Historic Cities, Fabulous Food & Art Tours: Central Italy Train Holiday
Venture across country on this two-week central Italy train holiday which takes you from Cinque Terre to the historic heart of Rome. Along the way, enjoy sunny sailing trips, visits to handsome historic cities and a unique tour of Rome in a vintage car.
Itinerary at a Glance:
- Soak up the sea breeze in Nice
- Sail along the Cinque Terre coastline and tuck into a tasty lunch onboard
- Explore the historic city of Lucca en route to art-filled Florence
- Celebrates the tastes of Tuscany in a private cooking class
- Experience Umbria's laidback lifestyle on a vineyard tour
- Wander the winding medieval streets of Assisi and Perugia
- Enjoy a private Vatican tour and a vintage car ride in Rome
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When To Travel
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Day 1: The Adventure Begins
Your central Italy train holiday begins today as you make your way to London St. Pancras to board an early-morning Eurostar train to Paris. After approximately three-and-a-half hours, arrive in the French capital and transfer across town to Gare de Lyon to catch your afternoon train to Nice.
This leg of the journey takes roughly six hours so get comfy and enjoy the views as you wind through pretty French countryside en route to the sunny south coast. Your accommodation for the next two nights is a stylish hotel complete with sea views and a beautiful rooftop pool, the perfect hideaway to hunker down in after your long journey. Enjoy a tasty meal in the restaurant then retire to your room ready for your first full day of exploring tomorrow.
Day 2: Sunny Strolls in Nice
After a bountiful breakfast at your hotel, set off to explore Nice at your own leisure. As the capital of the French Riviera, Nice offers a brilliant blend of vibrant culture and a gorgeous coastal location.
If it's a laidback beach day you fancy, there are pretty promenades to stroll along, beach loungers beckoning and a shimmering sea to swim in.
Away from the seafront, wind your way through the charming streets of the Old Town where you'll find a number of excellent galleries (Nice was a popular holiday spot among the likes of Picasso, Renoir and Matisse) and a high concentration of lovely local restaurants and food markets where you can tuck into delicious fresh fare.
Come evening, nothing beats a cool cocktail as you watch the sun set and toast to the first full day of your central Italy train holiday.
Day 3: Rail to Italy
It's another travelling day today as you catch an early-morning train from Nice to Framura, a small coastal town in the north-west of Italy. With the railway line hugging the coast, the six-hour journey is guaranteed to be a beautiful one so sit back and enjoy the ride.
On arrival to Framura this afternoon, make your way to your hotel where you will be staying for the next two nights. Set on a hill overlooking the old town of Framura, this is the ideal tranquil base from which to explore the area. The afternoon is yours to spend as you wish. Relax at the hotel with a dip in the pool and a pampering session in the spa followed by dinner and evening drinks on the sunny terrace.
Day 4: Set Sail in Cinque Terre
Today, on the fourth day of your central Italy train holiday, hop on the train and travel 20 minutes to the pretty seaside town of Monterosso, one of the five villages in the Cinque Terre coastal area.
From here, you'll be setting off on a boat tour which takes you south along the enchanting coastline from Monterosso. Along the way you'll sail past Guvano beach, a popular naturist spot since the 1970s, and a scattering of beautiful villages that cling to the cliffs.
At the most south-eastern point of the Cinque Terre National Park, you'll have the chance to enjoy a refreshing dip and a spot of snorkelling followed by a delicious lunch prepared by the crew. Tuck into tasty local dishes from succulent seafood cooked over the barbeque to bruschetta with anchovies, all washed down with a crisp glass of white wine, before setting sail back to Monterosso.
Day 5: Florence via Lucca
Wake up bright and early and enjoy an al fresco breakfast in the sun before heading to the station to catch your early-morning train to Florence.
En route, you'll be stopping off to explore the handsome historic city of Lucca in Italy's Tuscany region. Tucked behind high Renaissance walls, the city is home to pretty piazzas, charming cobbled streets and shady promenades. Explore on foot and stop for a bite to eat in one of the many excellent restaurants (we can recommend the top ones to try) before continuing on to Florence, arriving in the late afternoon.
You'll be spending the next three nights in a beautifully restored 15th century villa set within tranquil gardens. After checking in, enjoy a relaxing evening with a dip in the pool, a session in the spa and a traditional Tuscan dinner in the restaurant.
Day 6: Walking Tour of Florence
Florence, the capital of Italy's Tuscany region, is the focus today as you set off on a private half-day walking tour of the city.
Your guide will meet you at your hotel and take you around some of the city's highlights including the Duomo - the city's beautiful cathedral - and the neighbouring Giotto's Bell Tower, as well as a number of picturesque piazzas. We can recommend some wonderful restaurants for lunch then the afternoon is yours to continue exploring at leisure.
Day 7: A Cooking Class and Culinary Treats
Today, at the halfway point of your central Italy train holiday, you'll get a taste for the region's mouth-wateringly good cuisine as you enjoy a guided tour of the market followed by a cooking class.
Your guide will meet you at your hotel and take you to Mercato Centrale, the city's historic food market, where you will purchase fresh ingredients ready for your cooking class which takes place in the wine cellar of the nearby Da Pinocchio restaurant.
During the class, you'll make (and taste) a variety of regional recipes such as bruschetta (roasted bread with chopped tomatoes) and fresh pasta (either ravioli or fettuccine) topped off with a sinfully sweet dessert… bliss!
Day 8: Andiamo to Assisi
It's another early start today as you catch a two-and-a-half-hour morning train from Florence to Assisi, a beautiful hilltop town in Umbria.
After checking in to your hotel, a handsome historic property where you will be spending the next two nights of your tailor-made train tour of Italy, you'll be privately transferred to a nearby wine estate where you'll enjoy a relaxing picnic in. The perfect introduction to the laidback lifestyle in Umbria, you'll get the chance to tour the sunny vineyards with the owners, taste some of their wine varieties and then tuck into a delicious lunch with the best fresh local produce.
We've left the afternoon for you to spend at leisure. We recommend popping into Assisi to wander along the winding medieval streets, enjoy a moment of peace and quiet in the pretty piazzas and age-old churches and break for a drink or a bite to eat in one of the many charming cafes.
Day 9: Day Trip to Perugia
After a sunny al fresco breakfast at your hotel, catch a 20-minute train to Perugia, Umbria's beautiful historic capital, for a private walking tour.
Beginning at the Rocca Paolina - an impressive Renaissance fortress - the tour takes you along Corso Vannucci, Perugia's main street, to the magnificent Fontana Maggiore fountain and then on to the Palazzo dei Priori and San Lorenzo Cathedral. After the tour, you'll have the chance to continue exploring at your own pace before breaking for lunch - we can recommend the best tables to try the tasty local cuisine.
Return to Assisi for a relaxing evening at your hotel and a glass of wine in the pretty gardens before retiring to your room for a good night's sleep ready for another travelling day tomorrow.
Day 10: Rail to Rome
Wave goodbye to Umbria today as you catch a morning train to Italy's beautiful capital, Rome, arriving in the early afternoon. Drop off your things at the hotel and get settled in because you'll be here for the next three nights of your central Italy train holiday.
Set in the heart of the city, your hotel is the perfect base to explore on foot so after unpacking, we recommend using the rest of the day to get your bearings. The Spanish Steps are a stone's throw away and the handsome historic centre is ideal for wandering around at your own pace, ducking into elegant shops and busy bakeries along the way.
For the evening, we'll book you a table at one of the many excellent eateries and can recommend some brilliant bars to visit afterwards for a nightcap before heading back to your hotel for the night.
Day 11: Vatican Tour
Rise and shine this morning for an early tour (without all the crowds) of the Vatican City. Accompanied by an art historian, you'll get the chance to visit the Sistine Chapel for an intimate look at Michelangelo's breathtaking frescos; the Vatican Palace where you'll see some of the world's most famous Renaissance paintings and sculptures; St. Peter's Basilica; and St. Peter's Square for a peek at the Swiss Guards.
We've left the afternoon free for you to continue exploring at your own pace. If you fancy more culture, there's the iconic Colosseum - the world's largest amphitheatre which was built during the Roman Empire - and the historic Roman Forum. Alternatively, head across the river to the city's bohemian Trastevere district where you can relax and watch the world go in one of the wonderful trattorias or pizzerias.
Day 12: Vintage Car Cruising
Continue exploring Rome in style today as you are driven around the city in a vintage car. Your driver, who knows the city inside out, will take you along ancient alleyways and into the secret nooks of the city that are rarely visited by tourists.
Along the way, you'll get the chance to stop at some of the city's lesser visited sites including Parco del Coelio; Aventine Hill - one of the Seven Hills on which ancient Rome was built - the tiny Tiber Island which is connected to the rest of the city by beautiful bridges; and the historic Jewish Ghetto.
Day 13: Home Time
Today, on the penultimate day of your central Italy train holiday, you'll begin your leisurely journey home. After a tasty breakfast at your hotel, catch a mid-morning train to Milan, arriving in the early afternoon.
Your next train doesn't depart until the late evening so you'll have some time to stretch your legs in Milan. We'll arrange for your luggage be securely stored, giving you the chance to squeeze in a spot of culture with a private tour with an art historian to see the historic Last Supper painting among other works by Da Vinci. After a potter around the city and a late dinner, cosy up on a sleeper service to Paris.
Day 14: Arrive Home
On arrival into Paris this morning, make your way to Paris Gare du Nord station to board your Eurostar train back to London, arriving in the early afternoon.
Kate L is our expert for this itinerary and, as a seasoned traveller, has the inside track on the most memorable adventures.