We chose to see Italy by train for our three-week honeymoon. It was the perfect choice. And we chose Italy because it is one of the oldest and most culturally rich countries in the world and we wanted to take our time. So, with our train passes, and our appetites, we ate our way from the sophisticated northern city of Bologna and zig-zagged all the way down to the soul of southern Italy, Naples.
The medieval city of Bologna is the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, so we put on our walking shoes and explored. The more than 40 Porticoes of Bologna (covered walkways) allowed us to explore much of the city without worrying about rain or snow. Bologna is one of easiest cities in Italy to explore on foot. The food was wonderful. This region introduced lasagna, pasta alla Bolognese, tortellini and other classic dishes to the world.
Tuscany, in the heart of the of Italy, is the birthplace of the Renaissance and is the most visited region in Italy. We recommend splitting time between the capital city of Florence, and a smaller countryside town like Lucca. In Florence, tour the famous Uffizi Gallery, see the Duomo square, walk and shop on the Ponte Vecchio and eat gelato every day. In Lucca, walk the wall that surrounds the historical city centre. Easy day trips by train from Florence include Pisa, Siena and the Chianti wine region. Tuscany’s olive oils, wines, truffles, steaks and cheeses allow the region to also contend for culinary supremacy.
Avoid the loud, over-priced and jammed tourist areas and stay in one of the wonderful inner city neighbourhoods. Prati, Trastevere, Camp dei Fiori, Testaccio and Celio boast some of the city’s best restaurants, bakeries and shopping. Spend time near the Trevi fountain and Spanish Steps. Visit the Pantheon, the Forum, the Colosseum, the Vatican and Saint Peter’s Basilica. Walk from site to site in Rome and discover its true beauty.
Naples is a little gritty, a little chaotic and a lot corrupt, and yet its charm and character are unmatched. We recommend taking a side trip to historic Matera, and spending a few days travelling along the breathtaking Amalfi Coast to relax. Visit the Capella San Severo, Mount Vesuvius and the National Archaeological Museum. Explore the Lungomare, the city’s historic city centre, and the famous outdoor markets. Easy day trips by train from Naples include Pompeii, Herculaneum, the island of Capri, and all of the towns along the Amalfi Coast. We are saving those for a return trip!
For more information about seeing Europe by train, contact raileurope.ca
Originally published in Today’s Bride magazine, Spring/Summer 2016.