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.
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|
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|
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.
|Route||Genova Piazza Principe to La Spezia Centrale|
|Train||Frecciargento (every hour)|
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|
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)|
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)|
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.
|Route||Bologna Centrale to Roma Termini|
|Train||Frecciarossa (every 10-30 min)|
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)|
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|
|Duration||Rome (1h 10min); Venice (5h), Milan (4h 40min)|
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