The most evocative itineraries for an unforgettable travel experience.
27 Jan 2020
Travelling by train is like travelling twice at least. When you travel by train, the trip is underway before you get near your destination: it starts the second you get into the carriage, stow your bags or suitcases in the luggage rack and then sit down in the company of a good book or TV series. Train travel can be an opportunity to visit an entire region, or to take a pleasant day-trip and get out of town.
To ride a train in Italy is slowly to enter a realm of beauty, stop after stop. Look out of the window at a landscape that never ceases to surprise. What routes do we recommended by train in Italy? Here are four to experience and enjoy by train.
A scrumptious journey along the Florence – Viareggio regional route.
To explore the Tuscan region, our first piece of advice is to leave the hustle and bustle behind and enjoy the view, sunflowers and all. Take advantage of a “slow” journey where it isn’t the miles that count, it’s the stops, each and every one an opportunity to discover a locality and taste a dish or product from local cuisine. Along the Florence – Viareggio route, allow yourself to be tempted at S. Maria Novella station in Florence by La Norcineria, a famous store packed with hams, cheeses, fresh meats, vegetable pickles, wines and many other Tuscan delicacies, which can be consumed at the next-door trattoria. Another tasty stop in Prato Centrale is 900 metres from the station where we find La vecchia cucina di Soldano, an institution among the city’s trattorias, offering excellent main dishes like fried rabbit and Florentine T-bone steak. Our Tuscan train taster ends at Viareggio, where the place to hit is the Patalani pastry shop: stock up on excellent confectionery, including their not-to-be-missed baked doughnuts with Chantilly cream.
Where to stay in Florence.
If you’re leaving from Florence, Gruppo UNA offers elegant and modern rooms at UNAHOTELS Vittoria Firenze, furnished by well-known architect Fabio Novembre. If rather than town you prefer the Tuscan hills, your best bet is UNAHOTELS Poggio dei Medici Toscana, a magical place for an unforgettable stay at its spacious rooms and suites, in a luxurious building with its own golf course, wellness and fitness centre.
A volcanic tour on the old narrow-gauge Circumetnea Railway train (Sicily).
One of our top four train rides has to be this tour around Etna, Europe’s highest volcano. Travelling by train round these parts is unique, beautiful and enormously invigorating. Leaving Catania, the train ambles through a number of small Sicilian towns, all of which are worth exploring. Wine lovers can look forward to sublime tastings at every stop. Among the small towns worth exploring are Adrano, Bronte, the Municipality of Etna Park and Nebrodi Park, Randazzo, Giarre, Riposto, Biancavilla, Misterbianco and Belpasso, and they’re just some of the small Sicilian worlds to discover.
Sleeping in Catania
To experience this tour at its best, we advise starting from Catania: Palace Catania | UNA Esperienze, authentic Sicilian elegance located in the heart of the city, with breathtaking views of Mount Etna from its large terrace. This historic luxury hotel has been faithfully restored to offer a comfortable stay without sacrificing its true identity.
Walking towards Lecco and/or Bergamo starting from Milan
For lovers of trekking or even simply a brisk walk, we suggest taking a look at Civate to San Pietro al Monte, in the province of Lecco. It’s a perfect route for a day-trip, ideal on a sunny spring weekend. It’s easy to reach by train thanks to the Lecco-Molteno-Monza-Milan Porta Garibaldi line, which stops in Civate. From here you can reach the Benedictine complex at San Pietro al Monte, where expansive green views make for a perfect out-of-city relaxing break. The walk takes about an hour, interspersing stretches in the plains with more challenging hill sections.
Another walking route easy to reach from Milan by train crosses the Via dei Terrazzamenti di Bergamo, a stunning 15 km long walk that can be completed in about 5 hours (one way).
Leaving from Milan, where to stay overnight?
Gruppo UNA offers many solutions for a happy stay in Milan. From Maison Milano | UNA Esperienze, located in the centre of town in an elegant historical building, to UNAHOTELS Century Milano, a hotel a few steps from the strategic Porta Nuova. For those looking for a more practical and convenient situation, the group also offers UNAHOTELS Malpensa, near the airport, or the Linea Uno Hotel & Residence Milano, a short distance from the main railway stations.
From the Eternal City on a day-trip to Orvieto
If you haven’t fallen in love with Rome, then you must have never seen the place. The Eternal City is an open-air film set, the cradle of culture and one of those places that never ceases to amaze travellers and residents alike. But the surprises extend beyond the Roman walls. Not far from the capital are other wonders visitors should not miss. Easily reachable by train, they make the perfect day-trip. Among these, we recommend a trip to Orvieto, which can be reached from Rome by train in less than an hour. Known as “the high and strange city” because when you look at this hilltop town from below it seems to hang in the sky, a tour around its architectural wonders is a real pleasure. Make sure you don’t miss the Chapel of San Brizio and the Duomo Museum.
Sleeping in Orvieto
If your short break in the beautiful Umbrian town last more than a day, a few kilometres from the centre you’ll find the modern, charming 4-star UNAWAY Hotel Fabro, which in addition to comfort and hospitality, also offers a tasty culinary experience at the renowned Umbrian-style Osteria La PortAccanto.