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Grand Train Tour of Italy

Italy is a HOT destination! But of course, you knew that already.

Even if you haven't been, you're probably already quite familiar with its famous shape, many of its popular destinations, history, architecture, art as well as its fashion, food and wine exports. Especially its food and wine.

Regardless of where you go in Italy, or should we say Eataly, your taste buds will be celebrating! Let's take a look at some of the dishes you should sink your teeth in on this Grand Train Tour of Italy - made easy by Trenitalia.


Sarde in Soar

An archipelago of 118 islands, Venice is world famous for its canals, bridges and masks. A great way to explore the canals and numerous alleyways is via a Cicchetti crawl, where you'd taste various canapes and finger foods through the islands' cafes and bars (or bicari) washed down with ombra (a small glass of wine). Costing about 1 or 2 euros, popular items include calamari fritti (fried calamari), the different kinds of polpette (meatballs) and sarde in soar (sweet and sour sardines).

Route Venezia St. Lucia to Milano Centrale
Train Frecciarossa (every hour)
Duration  2h 25 min
Price   From $29



Risotto alla Milanese con Ossobuchi

Just 2hr 25min east of Venice is the world's fashion and design capital, Milan. Home also to some of the world's most important art collections including Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper mural in the Milano Cathedral, this city welcomes about 8 million visitors each year. Full of luxury hotels, Milan is also the fifth most starred city in the world by the Michelin guide, which means you need to taste everything! Well, if anything, the local favourite of Risotto alla Milanese con Ossobuchi is an absolute must. This traditional and hearty Lombardy dish of cross-cut veal shanks paired with an elegant serving of saffron risotto will have your mouth watering for days!

Route Milano Centrale to Genoa
Train Intercity (every hour)
Duration  1h 30 min
Price  From $26



Trofie al Pesto

A short 1hr 30min train ride south of Milan is the country's largest port city, Genoa. The capital of the Liguria region, this bustling city is also a key gateway to the Italian Riviera. Once tatty and boring, today, it's a revitalised port city boasting numerous trendy eateries. The town where pesto originated, a must-try dish when visiting Genoa is the Trofie al Pesto - a simple yet delicious pasta dish which heroes the pesto by marrying it with the trofie, a twisted, spiral-shaped pasta that is also native to Liguria. Foodies will note that the ribbed spirals perfectly pick up the pesto's fine consistency, resulting in the perfect bite.

Rail Plus hint: Optional ice cream trip in the Summer!
Nearby Genoa, specifically a 32min train and 18min bus ride away, is the colourful fishing village of Portofino. Here, not only will you go trigger-happy will selfies against the picturesque harbour peppered with pastel coloured buildings, you will also absolutely fall in love with their specialty, Gelato Paciugo, a local favourite that is an ice cream bowl mixed with whipped cream fresh fruits raspberries, blueberries and chocolate flakes. Good any day of the year, on an empty stomach or a full one!


Route Genova Piazza Principe to La Spezia Centrale
Train Frecciargento (every hour)
Duration  1h
Price  From $14


Cinque Terre

Pansotti in Walnut Sauce

Travelling along the Riviera south to Cinque Terre, where you'll enjoy a scenic 2hr+ train ride from Portofino, be sure to hold on to your jaws upon arrival, for the beauty of this string of villages will leave you oo-hing and aa-hing for days! Its five villages of Monterosso al Marre, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore along with the rugged coastline they sit upon and the surrounds make up the Cinque Terre National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its beauty aside, the local dish not to be missed here is Pansotti in Walnut Sauce, a triangle shaped ravioli, dressed in a rich and heart-warming sauce made with locally grown walnuts. Another must-have when visiting is to end your meal with the Sciacchetra Wine, a typical sweet wine of Cinque Terre.

Route La Spezia Centrale to Pisa Centrale
Train Frecciargento/Regionale (every 10-20 min)
Duration  38min - 1h 20min
Price  From $15




About 1hr30min south of Cinque Terre is Pisa, famous for its leaning city cathedral bell tower. A historically important and influential city, Pisa is one of the smaller cities in the Tuscan region that's full of character and interests. Food-wise, you cannot visit without indulging in some Panzanella, a much-loved traditional salad of chopped bread and tomato dressed with onion, basil, olive oil and vinegar. Sometimes, lettuce, anchovies, cucumber, tuna, olives and various popular salad ingredients are added, but that's much to the disapproval of Florentine traditionalists. It's all up to your preference, really! Another must-have after every meal here is Cantuccini, the region's typical crunchy almond biscuits, dipped in Vin Santo. Buonissimo!

Route Pisa Centrale to Firenze S. M. Novella
Train Regionale (every 20-30 min)
Duration  1h
Price  From $16



Bistecca alla Fiorentina

An hour's train ride inland from Pisa is the instaworthy city of Florence, capital of the Tuscan region and home to numerous masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture, including the photogenic Duomo cathedral with its terracotta-tiles and bell tower. Equally as iconic as the Duomo is its traditional dish of Bistecca alla Fiorentina, a 5-ingredient dish enjoyed by every Tuscan household. Well-seasoned, the steak is a either a T-bone or porterhouse from an ancient Tuscan breed of cattle called Chianina. Grilled over red-hot coals the dish is traditionally served rare, though medium-rare is also accepted by many traditionalists.

Route Firenze S. M. Novella to Bologna Centrale
Train Frecciarossa (every 15-30 min)
Duration  35min
Price  From $20



Tagliatelle with Ragu Bolognese Sauce

If you're up for a quick side trip to the home of the Bolognese sauce, then hop on a train up to Bologna, just 35mins away from Florence. The capital and largest city of the Emilia-Romagna region, Bologna is one of the wealthiest cities in Italy, given its an important agricultural, industrial, transport and financial hub. You will notice the higher quality of life here, that's for sure. For your taste buds, we highly recommend you head to FICO Eataly World where you can eat your heart out, tasting your way through the region and country's endless delicacies and specialties.

Rail Plus hint: An easy trip to one of the best restaurants in the World
21mins (from $9) northwest of Bologna is the ancient town of Modena, famous for its automotive industry where you'll find the factories of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Pagani, Maserati and De Tomaso. Super luxurious cars aside, this is also the origin of balsamic vinegar. And for high-end foodies, you'll no doubt want a dining experience at Osteria Francescana, the first Italian restaurant to rate in the World's 50 Best Restaurants. Featuring only 12 tables, be sure you book forever in advance at this 3-star Michelin venue for what would be the absolute highlight of your grand Italian train tour!


Route Bologna Centrale to Roma Termini
Train Frecciarossa (every 10-30 min)
Duration  2h
Price  From $37



Spaghetti Carbonara

No visit to Italy is complete without a stop in Rome, only 1hr 32min from Florence or 1hr 54min from Bologna. While you feast your eyes and brain on the history and stories of this city - and there is much to immerse yourself in - be sure you do not neglect your taste buds! A standout local tradition and utmost favourite dish is the Spaghetti Carbonara. Famous world over with numerous twists and variations, the traditional carbonara is made of pasta, pan-fried guanciale (cured meat from pork cheeks), raw eggs, pecorino cheese and lots of ground pepper. Yes, people, there is no cream involved!

Route Roma Termini to Napoli Centrale
Train Frecciarossa (every 10-30 min)
Duration  1h 10min
Price  From $33



Margherita Pizza Naples

Just over an hour's train ride south of Rome is the capital of Campania, Naples, one of the oldest continuously inhabited urban areas in the world. Home to Europe's largest historic city which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, historical sites nearby include the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum. As much as Pompeii springs to mind at the whisper of Naples, so does pizza. The birthplace of this beloved dish, know that the real Neopolitan pizza must be cooked in a wood-fired oven. And here's a fun fact: In 1889, pizzaiolo Raffaele Esposito created a nationalistic pizza in honour to Queen Margherita of Savoy, where the colours of the Italian flag were represented by the mozzarella (white), tomato (red) and basil (green). So now whenever you order the Margherita pizza, you'll know its origins! 

Route Napoli Centrale to Rome, Venice or Milan
Train Frecciarossa
Duration  Rome (1h 10min); Venice (5h), Milan (4h 40min)
Price  From $33


Rail Plus hint: Bonus pasta expedition
There is nowhere in Italy where there isn't pasta. However, did you know that the capital of pasta is only Gragnano? Yep! Just 1hr 20min south of Naples, this is the city that produces and exports the largest amount of pasta, especially macaroni. Celebrated the world over for its air-dried pasta, the reason the pasta produced here is delish boils down to a few factors. One, the land where the wheat is cultivated has the right mix of wind, sun, and humidity. Two, the durum wheat is mixed with the calcium-poor water of Monti Lattari. Finally, once the dough is shaped through rough bronze forms, the pasta is dried at low temperatures in the mountain air.

Eating your way through Italy is easy with an Italy Pass or Trenitalia point to point tickets. Check the prices for the entire itinerary here >>>

Supported by Trenitalia and Italian State Tourist Board in Sydney

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