In a far away land there lives a young boy named Giovanni. His life is different then that of his peers, for his father is gone, presumed on a fishing trip in the North, and his mother is ill. Giovanni works at the local print shop before and after school each day to make money for his household. His peers make fun of Giovanni because he can not play after school, that is, except for his friend Campanella.
On the night of the Festival of Stars, the kids from Giovanni's school again make fun of him, so he runs away from the town common into the countryside. It is there that something odd occures, a train appears from the sky, a train which is on the Galactic Railroad.
Giovanni boards the train, and is soon joined by his friend Campanella. Together they meet many interesting people who are also riding the train and they see many sites as they travel towards the edge of the universe.