Great Rail Journeys invites you to join us on an unforgettable rail tour of one of the most romantic, beautiful, culturally-rich and gastronomically exciting countries in Europe. Italy flaunts its history and heritage at every turn, and offers something to surprise or inspire every guest. Exploring Italy by train is by far and away the easiest and most comfortable way to see this historic country thanks to an extensive rail network that offers fast and reliable services to the majority of Italy's most desireable destinations. Plus, of course, many of Italy's railways afford a relaxing opportunity to admire Italy's wonderful landscapes.
We've created a collection of Italian rail holidays that cater for every taste, whether your preference is to admire the architecture that has made cities such as Rome famous, or you wish to escape to the beautiful Italian lakes.
Of course, it's perfectly possible to do both if you desire, as our comprehensive 'Top to Toe' rail tour of Italy charts an unforgettable course from Turin in the north east to the Sicilian city of Catania, which resides in the shadow of Mount Etna. Italy is like an inexhaustible all-you-can-eat buffet of the most exquisite dishes; it's only when your appetite for remarkable sights and experiences has been sated by Rome's Colosseum, Vatican City, the Sistine Chapel, Piza's legendary Leaning Tower, Venice's canals, and masterpieces by Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Boticelli that you realise that these are merely the appetisers.
From the restful beauty of Lake Como on a summer's day to the colourful costumes and excited buzz of Venice's winter carnival, Italy is a destination for all seasons and all visitors, and a joy to explore by rail.
Known as the 'Pearl of the lake, picture-perfect Sirmione is perched on the tip of a peninsula on the southern shore of Lake Garda. On this tour, we visit many of the lake and surrounding region's finest attractions, from the Renaissance city of Mantova to historical Verona and iconic Venice, where we enjoy a fantastic meal in a striking palace on the Grand Canal.
Picturesque, peaceful and perfectly placed for our visits to Verona and Venice, the lakeside town of Desenzano forms the ideal base for a wonderful and relaxing holiday. The delightful scenery and attractions of Lake Garda and northern Italy are just some of the highlights on this marvellous tour.
Breathtaking coastline and picture-perfect towns - the Amalfi Coast and its islands make up one of the most visually stunning regions in the whole of Europe. Starting in the ancient city of Rome, and then based in Sorrento, we visit magnificent Capri and the alluring lost city of Pompeii.
Discover the true colours of this acclaimed region on a tour of the highlights of Tuscany. Ochre and terracotta hill towns linked by winding white roads, interspersed with fields of poppies and sunflowers contrast with the magnificent architecture of the great Renaissance cities.
Experience the very essence of Italy as we discover stylish Milan, the Eternal City of Rome, graceful Renaissance Florence, the labyrinthine port of Venice and iconic Pisa with its unmistakable Leaning Tower.
Immerse yourself in culture on the unspoilt 'heel' of Italy, a rugged, rural and breathtakingly beautiful area. We tour the ancient city of Rome before travelling through the olive groves, vineyards and almond trees of a region referred to as 'the breadbasket of Italy' on a wonderful adventure exploring Puglia & Basilicata.
Unwind in the lakeside Savoy Palace Hotel in Gardone Riviera, savouring the fresh air and mild climate, with sparkling Lake Garda as a backdrop. Discover delightful Venice, a vintage rail journey along Lake Iseo and a meal at an 'agriturismo' on this fantastic rail holiday packed full of experiences.
Colourful villages cling to the dramatic coastline of the Italian Riviera, with the glittering Mediterranean forming picture-postcard vistas in every direction, and glamorous yachts clamouring for attention alongside quaint fishing boats in idyllic harbours.
Alluring Lake Como has been attracting visitors to its beautiful shores for more than 200 years. On our spectacular tour based around the lake, we take in pretty Italian towns, lake steamers, mountain scenery and historic mansions. We also enjoy an enthralling journey into Switzerland on the Bernina Express, a stunning railway line with UNESCO protection.
Board the legendary Venice Simplon-Orient-Express to step back in time to a world of romance, indulgence and adventure. This wonderful tour takes in seductive Paris, vibrant Milan and Venice - the most beguiling of cities.
Discovering Italy with Great Rail Journeys
Each of our many and varied rail tours in Italy offers an exciting itinerary of guided tours and excursions designed to offer a broad introduction to the many treasure that this enchanting country holds.
It is our aim to provide an experience of Italy that is rewarding, pleasurable and memorable whilst offering the best possible value for money. The cost of your Italian rail holiday includes all train and other travel costs, hotel accommodation, an extensive programme of sightseeing trips and activities and a selection of meals.
We appreciate that the standard of accommodation is an important factor in your enjoyment of any Italian rail tour, and so we only use hotels that benefit our guests with a convenient location and provide excellent value, facilities and comfort. By choice we often select reputable family-run hotels which extend our guests a greater degree of personal service and a more relaxing environment.
For your further comfort and reassurance, each of our rail tours of Italy is escorted by a professional and friendly Tour Manager who can address any issues or queries you may have and provide information and assistance for the duration of your trip.
Useful information when travelling to Italy
The narrow country of Italy, famously likened to a boot kicking the island of Sicily for its curved shape, is located in Southern Europe. Italy's northern border, from west to east, connects the country with France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia, whilst its west coast faces the Tyrrhenian Sea, its east coast the Ionian Sea.
Historically, Italy can justifiably claim to be the seat of Western civilization thanks to the rise of the Roman Empire which, at its height, encompassed large regions of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Educated and cultured, the Romans influenced every society they conquered, leaving a rich legacy of written and spoken language, architecture, legal principles and inventions including thermal heating, sewage systems and a formula for cement that is little changed today. The European Renaissance, a cultural movement that lasted from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century is said to have originated in Florence. Some of Italy's greatest and most famous works of literature, architecture and art were produced during this period and can still be seen by our guests today in locations such as Florence's Cathedral and Uffizi Gallery, Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome, and the Basilica di Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, where Leonardo da Vinci's famous mural, The Last Supper, is located.
Thanks to a Mediterranean climate, Italy largely enjoys hot, sunny summers and mild, wet winters where snowfall is relatively rare with the exception of mountainous regions such as the Italian Alps and the Dolomites. Inland summer temperatures usually average between 28 and 33°C (82 and 91°F), whilst sea breezes lower the temperature slightly along Italy's coasts. Early autumn brings brief thunderstorms but temperatures remain warm and rainfall is short-lived.
Italy's cuisine needs little introduction; most guests on our rail tours will be familiar with classic Italian creations such as pizza, spaghetti Bolognese, salami and minestrone soup. As with other countries, however, Italy's food varies greatly between regions which have different traditions and styles of cookery. In general terms, Italian cuisine stems from the simple combination of fresh and flavoursome produce to create colourful dishes that preserve the identity of individual ingredients yet harmonise flavours perfectly. Pasta, polenta and risotto rice are staples of Italian cuisine and to these a variety of meats, fish, vegetables, herbs and sauces can be added to create simple yet utterly delicious meals. These can be accompanied by Italy's famous and excellent wines which include the white Pinot Grigiot, and the red Chianti.