Train Journeys in Italy, Southern Europe
If any country in the world has a reputation for romance it is Italy. Steeped in history and at the heart of Europe’s cultural past, ‘The Boot’ -so named after its unusual shape on the map – is an ideal destination for a quick city-break or a more relaxing extended tour.
One of the best ways to enjoy the wide range of destinations that the country has to offer the discerning tourist is to travel Italy by train.
Nowadays, with the wonder of the Euro-star, you can start your train journey to Italy from London st Pancras International, travelling through France and The Alps to Italy itself.
One of the most popular destinations for a train tour in Italy is Lake Garda, the country’s largest lake; be sure to check out the town of Sirmione, which, like many places in the country, has some magnificent ancient Roman ruins, including the Grotte di Catulloa special site that is the remains of the largest Roman villa in Italy.
The town is also famous for its thermal springs, which have a long history of drawing visitors from all over the region for their reputed health giving properties, and also for the wonderful example of a 13th century Italian castle, Rocca Scaligera, which, with a little imagination, instantly transports you back to another era.
The ideal way to enjoy Lake Garda is to take a cruise around its beautiful waters, seeing the amazing views of the huge cliffs that run almost the entire length of the lake, as well as the picture-postcard scenes of the villages dotted between the mountains and the lakeside shore.
The location is also perfect for exploring further afield, with many visitors choosing to take the train to the unique city of Venice, the ‘floating city’.
The Basilica of St. Mark’s and the Bridge of Sighs are two of its world-famous cultural and historical highlights and are ‘must-do’ destinations, as of course is a trip on the canals.
From the Grand Canal itself to some of the more intimate and meandering backstreets it is the only way to get a real idea and feel of the wonderful city.
Back at Lake Garda, travelling north a short way from its eastern shore, you will find Malcesine, where the lake almost transforms into classic Norwegian fjords.
An exceptionally narrow stretch of water sees impressive cliffs rise vertically from the water’s edge. At the town the imposing Scaligeri Castle dominates, as it has done since the 14th century.
If you are feeling a little adventurous, you can travel by cable car up to the summit of Monte Baldo, which at over seventeen-hundred metres is Lake Garda’s highest mountain.
As you reach the top the cars slowly revolve to give an amazing panoramic view of the lake, the mountains surrounding it and the Val d’Adige, which is the valley of the river that flows through Verona.