Italy, being in Europe, is easy to get cheap flights to Italy. And once there you have a fantastic rail network at your disposal. Tren Italia is responsible for running the trains here and they are generally quite good. What’s hilarious is that if anything does go wrong, the Italians are the best people in the world at over-dramatically complaining. For example: the air-conditioning breaks on a short train journey along the coast to Milan. The Italians flap their tickets in their faces and put hands to foreheads and look as if they might faint at any moment. When the ticket inspector comes round, they almost mob him until he writes magical words on the back of the ticket, which allow everyone to have their ticket refunded. Not often in the UK would you be privy to a scene like that.
It’s easy to travel between the main cities in Italy by train in the space of a two-week holiday. See the crumbling Coliseum and Sistine Chapel in Rome and the Vatican Museum and Saint Peter’s Basilica, probably the best Basilica in the world. Marvel at the immense wealth of the Catholic Church. Then travel to Florence to see the dome on Florence Cathedral and the Uffizi Art Gallery, an art historian’s dream. Head to the canals in Venice and take a gondola underneath the Bridge of Sighs. Read Romeo and Juliet in Verona, and read JG Ballard’s last, slightly creepy, short story about The Leaning Tower of Pisa, The Dying Fall, in Pisa.
It is also pleasant to take the train along the East coast. Stop in Loreto, mentioned in Webster’s Jacobean tragedy The Duchess of Malfi and a place of pilgrimage for many centuries. Loreto is truly breathtaking and the hostel up on the hill is as clean and comfortable as any good standard room in a hotel. You might even catch the odd religious procession going into the church here. The patrons carry green and orange lanterns and it’s really something.
Recommended also is the seaside town of Porto San Giorgio. Every Sunday Porto San Giorgio has a market, which sells clothes and handbags, and er, other stuff too. You can get a cheap pair of Levis here (authenticity disputed). In fact, you can walk away coated in denim if you wish. Porto San Giorgio is like the Bournemouth of Italy, this is where Italians go on holiday. You’ll see them promenading along the promenade at dusk in their tight jeans, wearing shirts with sweaters tied around their necks like you see ‘preppy’ boys doing in American movies.
The gelato here is fantastic, the pizza here is outstanding and you’ve got a great beach. From here there are numerous buses, which can take you to local hilltop villages, many of which hold spectacular food festivals during the summer months. You have the Roman town of Fermo and the pasta-making town Campofilone to name two. When you have really experienced Italy, take the train back to the city you flew into to fly home.
About the Author
She’s travelled over rails in the UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia and loves how train travel gives a sense of distance and changing landscape.
This post was supported by Fly.com.