By Katie Shaw
23 August 2019
To celebrate experiences that bring Italy to life, here are a few of our favourite unique activities that truly take you to the heart of this beguiling country.Read more
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
World-class art, architecture and gastronomy; Italy needs little introduction. Uncover spellbinding history from Florence, the 'Jewel of the Renaissance', to the centuries of art and culture tucked away in the sacred halls of Vatican City. Of course, there's perhaps no greater way to uncover the culture of a destination than through its food, and dining here is a real treat. Think crispy, woodfired pizza, creamy gelato, and deliciously fresh pasta, perhaps accompanied by a crisp Pinot Grigio or fruity Chianti.
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.
Effortlessly captivating and endlessly inspiring, Italy does everything with flair - and we discover it in the most romantic way possible, from its wonderful network of railways.
Picturesque, peaceful and perfectly placed for our visits to Verona and Venice, the lakeside town of Desenzano forms the ideal base for a wonderful holiday with a delightful setting on the shores of tranquil Lake Garda - one of Italy's best-loved lakes.… see more
Experience the very essence of Italy as we discover stylish Milan, the Eternal City of Rome, the tiny yet powerful Vatican City, graceful Renaissance Florence, the labyrinthine port of grand Venice, and iconic Pisa with its unmistakable Leaning Tower, with comfortable rail travel and 4-Star hotels throughout.… see more
13 daysView tour details >
Soak up the sights of Tuscany, on a charming rail holiday in the heart of the Italian countryside. Sample fine wines, explore Renaissance Florence, see the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa and discover Leonardo da Vinci's picturesque birthplace.… see more
On this spectacular tour we stay on the shores of dazzling Lake Como, enjoy boat excursions to Varenna and Bellagio, take a stunning scenic journey on the iconic Bernina Express, and visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Bellinzona.… see more
Tantalise your taste buds and awaken your senses to the delightful scenery and revered gastronomy of the Italian Piedmont region. We take in the delights of attractive Cuneo, marvel at the delicacies and verdant vistas of the Langhe region, and experience all the class and architectural aplomb of tremendous Turin.… see more
8 daysView tour details >
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.… see more
Sojourn on the shores of delightful Lake Levico, on a rail tour
that soaks up a collection
of favourite Italian attractions. Explore incomparable Lake Garda, collect snapshots of the Dolomites as you travel through the mountains, and discover the charms of Trento, on this unforgettable holiday.
Known as the 'Pearl of the Lake', picture-perfect Sirmione is perched on a peninsula on the southern shore of Lake Garda. On this exceptional tour we visit Mantova, the Sigurtá Gardens, and iconic Venice, for a guided tour of this incredible 'Floating City.'… see more
From our stunning location overlooking beautiful Lake Maggiore in the picturesque town of Stresa, we explore this magnificent region of Italy. We cross Lake Maggiore to explore the Borromean Islands, taste the wines of the Monferrato region, visit enchanting Lake Orta and travel into Switzerland on the scenic Centovalli Railway.… see more
From its ancient and classical cities to its hillside villages and dramatic coastline, Italy offers something for all visitors. On this incredible adventure we travel the length of this attractive country, taking in iconic sights such as Venice, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Pompeii, and lesser-known places like Tuscan Siena.… see more
16 daysView tour details >
From the incredible beauty of Lake Maggiore in one of Italy's most naturally spectacular spots to the breathtaking wonder of Switzerland, with superb rail journeys through majestic scenery to Zermatt, at the foot of the iconic Matterhorn.… see more
9 daysView tour details >
Experience exclusive excursions that simply would not be possible with a larger group, on an intimate tour that takes you around Sicily's most beautiful sights. From private tours of beautiful gardens and palaces, to tastings of incredible Sicilian wine, enjoy this magnificent taste of Italy on this incredible Italian island.… see more
8 daysView tour details >
Discover the fantastic railways of Italy. It should come as no surprise that we love railways and we know many of you do too! That's why our tours feature some of the most iconic railways and trains on the continent.
Italy enjoys an exceptional rail network, with rail still a popular method of travel for thousands of Italians daily. Routes run up and down the country and rail offers the perfect way to experience the wonderful Italian countryside, from the rolling vineyards of Tuscany to the cliffs of the southern coast.
A selection of heritage trains also still operates in Italy. One notable example is the Centovalli railway which trawls through the trees, alongside the lakes and over the mountains of northern Italy. The railway's name means 'One Hundred Valleys', which is taken from the many valleys that the line crosses and passes through on its route.
Italy's cuisine needs little introduction; most travellers 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.
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 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. As such, waterproof clothing is not required and can be kept to a minimum.
Italian is the original Romantic language, with its roots in the Latin, which preceded it as the language of Italy. Nowadays, Italian is fast-paced, expressive and fascinating to listen to. Helpful Italian expressions include 'buongiorno' meaning 'good morning', 'buona sera' meaning 'good afternoon' and 'grazie mille' which means 'thank you very much'. 'Buongiorno' is pronounced 'bwon- jor-noh', 'buonasera' is pronounced 'bwon-ah-ser-a' and 'grazie mille' is 'graz-ee-eh mee-lay'.
Many festival days have their origins in the Catholic faith. One example is the Epiphany which is celebrated on the 6th of January, intended as a day for the birth of Jesus Christ. This day marks the end of the Christmas season and in many ways has similar festivities to Christmas, including children receiving presents from the Befana, a magical old lady. A particular event to watch out for is the Venice Carnival.
This incredible carnival of masks and beautiful costumes happens just before Lent, and features parades and festivities across the city. In restaurants across Italy, a service charge is normally added to the bill which then goes to the staff. A small tip of €2 or €3 is always appreciated, however.
Italian people are open, passionate and talkative. The city population can tend to be more temperamental and reserved while the country people are often more friendly and welcoming.
Helping you plan your holiday to Italy