Italy by Train with Planet Rail’s Grand Tour of Italy
The Grand Tour of Italy – Discover Italy by Train: An Authentic Italian Experience by First Class Rail
There’s something extra special about Italy. Tucked beneath France, Switzerland and Austria, Italy’s infamous boot extends into seas of southern Europe, its Mediterranean coastline extending across an impressive 7,600km. Playing host to some of the most beautiful cities in the world, including Rome, Venice and Florence, it is a hub of continental culture. Ask anyone to name their favourite European destination, and chances are it’ll be an Italian hotspot. Discovering Italy by train is therefore of course one of our most desirable and requested holiday destinations.
As the of the home of the Renaissance and the heart of the Roman Empire, Italy’s artistic and historical vigor cannot be matched. This cultural superpower boasts 51 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, offering the likes of the Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica. Its galleries also play host to some of the world’s greatest masterpieces, including Michelangelo’s David, Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, and of course da Vinci’s The Last Supper. The country’s artistic aptitude isn’t just limited to its monuments and galleries, however: a short stroll down city streets will also demonstrate the style and elegance that makes Italy a powerhouse of fashion.
It’s impossible to conjure images of Italy without considering its cuisine. Having produced wine for the past 2800 years, and with over 2000 varieties of grape, no visit to Italy is complete without sampling some vino fantastico. Italians also take their food very seriously: ingredients are wholesome and fresh, meat and fish are cooked to perfection, and every family boasts a recipe for special sauce! When it comes to Italian food, there’s more than hearty pasta dishes or your favourite pizza. Italy’s cuisine is one of its most famous assets, impressing visitors, bringing families together, and making people fall in love with the country over and over again.
A feast for the eyes as well as appetites, Italy also showcases a diverse scenery that can certainly be compared to the masterpieces in its galleries. Glorious glacial lakes and ice capped mountains make for a magical northern region, while the mainland offers babbling streams and luscious hills, which eventually roll into rugged volcanic scenes of the south.
The fourth most visited country in the world, Italy is an extraordinary banquet of art, fashion, food and landscapes. Rivalled by few and adored by the masses, it’s the perfect place for both short breaks and extended stays, no matter the season. When you holiday with Planet Rail, you can enjoy this fascinating country with ease, taking in the sights and sounds of Europe’s cultural champ without the stresses of busy airports and traffic jams. When you travel by First Class Rail, the whole experience can be focused purely on exploration and indulgence…
The Journey Begins: Discovering Italy by Train
The Italian adventure begins at St Pancras, where you’ll board the Eurostar to Paris. A quick transfer to Gare de Lyon leads you onto the high-speed service that’ll whisk you onwards through the French and Swiss countryside, terminating in the impressive global city of Zurich.
Zurich: Italy by train
After a night spent on the banks of the Limmat River, our holidaymakers can spend the morning exploring Zurich. This stunning lakeside city offers a charming historic center n and a handful of iconic churches, but do bear in mind that it’s one of the most expensive places in the world for travellers! We recommend a stroll through the Old Town, where you can pop into quirky little stores and then relax in a cosy bar. If time allows, climb a tower of Grossmunster, where you’ll be greeted by the most impressive panoramas of the city.
Next stop, Milan! After your morning in Zurich, you’ll return to the station and hop aboard the next train. Winding through the Swiss Alps, you will enjoy the dreamlike scenes that make Switzerland so unique, before crossing the border into Italy and heading on into Milan. Though time here is fleeting, our travellers are able to steal a first glimpse of Italian architecture in the city’s major station, Milano Centrale, which blends a range of styles including Art Deco and Liberty.
A three hour journey aboard the Eurostar Italia Frecciabianca will transport you to Venice, and here’s where the fun really begins.
Venice: Italy by train
117 tiny islands, punctuated by canals and connected by bridges, make up this coveted city. Our holidaymakers enjoy two full days in magical Venice, which allows plenty of time to soak up the sights and the atmosphere that’s made it such a popular setting in plays, novels and films over time.
Your days here can be spent admiring striking architecture and historical sites. The piazza San Marco is particularly worthwhile, allowing you to view three of Venice’s most notable attractions from one spot – Basilica di San Marco, Doge’s Palace, and Torre dell’Orologio. Embrace the cliché and jump aboard a gondola, journeying down the city’s famous waterways and appreciating views from a totally different perspective.
Art lovers will not be left disappointed after their time in Venice. The city’s grand masters include Titian, Tintoretto and Tiepolo, all of whom can still be appreciated today. The biggest reflection of Venice’s art heritage is the Accademia gallery, so if you’re strapped for time, be sure to head straight there to get your Renaissance art fix.
Florence: Italy by train
Our holidaymakers’ time in Venice comes to an end when they board the Eurostar Italia Frecciargento once again, this time heading to Florence. We wholeheartedly recommend travellers experience this magical city by foot, as all of the major sights are within easy walking distance. Strolling through the cobbled streets and squares will also present you with plenty of cafés and wine bars, so you can refuel and relax after a morning of exercise and artwork!
Florence is one of the best places to enjoy traditional Tuscan cuisine, and you’ll be spoilt for choice when tummies start rumbling. Mouth-watering steaks, crunchy salads, hearty stews and creamy pastas will leave you torn when it comes to ordering, though with two days here, our travellers have plenty of time to sample a variety of dishes. Be sure to end your meal with a sweet bake and Tuscan dessert wine – you won’t be disappointed.
Rome: Italy by train
The Eternal City is the next stop on your tour, and for many, this is the highlight of their Italian holiday. Rome is a sprawling, bustling capital that promises excitement and adventure.
Its ancient ruins assert the city’s former power, while reflecting the cultural influence it still holds over the globe today. Impressive museums offer a glimpse into Rome’s rich history, while its range of architecture – from Imperial, Gothic and Medieval, to Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical – prove just how diverse the epicentre of the Roman Empire really is. A visit to Vatican City is a must, where you can admire St Peter’s Square, enjoy the stunning city gardens, and then marvel at the masterpieces within the Museums, including Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel.
Continue your theme of fabulous Italian food by indulging in pizza, pasta and risotto… not forgetting gelato! As with every major city, be wary of the tourist traps. We advise holidayers to steer clear of eateries on the main streets, and instead wander into quieter areas to enjoy a more authentic and reasonably priced meal.
Lake Geneva and Montreux: Italy by train
The final days of Planet Rail’s Grand Tour of Italy are spent in Montreux, where you’ll be treated to a stunning lakeside location and the breathtaking backdrop of the Alps. Discover the charming streets of this pretty town, enjoy a tour of the vineyards, or simply sit back, relax, and take in the views.
The mild Mediterranean climate encourages picturesque scenery, presenting you with colourful blooms, pines and palm trees. Impressive sculptures and belle-époque architecture line the promenade, providing the perfect setting to sip a glass of wine and reflect on your holiday.
The adventure draws to a close as you head back to Paris, before climbing aboard the Eurostar for the final leg of the journey. The Grand Tour of Italy is truly magical, allowing visitors to explore one of Europe’s most beautiful countries in the comfort of first class rail. To find out more about this holiday, or the other holidays on offer at Planet Rail, please get in touch with one of our friendly experts on 01347 825292.