Is it possible to take a direct overnight train from Zurich to Venice? I've been scouring the Eurail, Rail Europe, DB, SBB sites with no luck. I found some trips with five hour layovers in Milan, very early in the morning- I don't know how overnight trains work exactly- can one stay on the train during the layover? Thanks!
What ever you do, you will change trains in Milan.
Overnight trains in and out of Italy generally go north/south or east/west. To come south from Zurich and then to the east to Venice, you will change trains. You may have seen the train out of Zurich with a train change in Innsbruck at 10:10pm and departing at 11:05 (55 minute layover). The first train is not a night train but the second train is part of the City Night Line network. It arrives in Venice at 6:38.
I'm with Larry - go back to SBB.ch. You might even consider an early train the next day; the trip takes 6.5-7 hours, and you could gather lunch supplies the day before, eat on the train, and arrive in early afternoon. Depending on the number of travelers, it could be much cheaper than a night train. And you may be MUCH more rested... Which date are you looking at? I can't find - even on RE LOL - anything with a 5-hour layover in Milan... The main thing you want to pay attention to is the number of connections - you don't want to have to stay up all night because you're changing trains every 2-3 hours :-(