We love it when people who work for us decide it’s “their time” to get a Rail Pass and travel to Europe. Danielle Perrone, who manages our public relations at Lou Hammond and Associates, dreamed of riding the rails through Italy. We gave her point-to-point tickets in Italy, as well as a voucher for a Rome sightseeing tour, plus a Swiss Flexi Pass. She was surprised to see how just a short train ride away one could be in a whole other country!
Danielle kept a blog of her travels, documenting as she calls it, “the romantic journey” of rail travel. Between tasting the “most amazing” lasagna in Brescia to watching Venice unfold outside panoramic windows, we hope you enjoy her firsthand account of *bellissima* Italy.
Train travel continues to be one of the most popular, convenient, and romantic ways to see Europe. Imagine departing Roma Termini, which is centrally located in the heart of Rome, aboard one of Trenitalia’s high-speed trains, heading to one of the most romantic cities in the world, Venice. As the train departs and begins to make its way through the rolling farmlands of Italy to Verona, an unexpected and surprising city that makes for a great day trip option via the train, a stop not reachable by flight.
As we begin our romantic journey, seats expand easily, giving passengers room to spare as they sit back while attendants make their way through the cabin, handing out complimentary newspapers and a welcome drink and snacks. Electrical outlets are provided, helping passengers recharge and stay connected during their travels. With just less than an hour to go, passengers catch up on current events and reading emails, or gaze outside the windows at the grassy green rolling landscapes passing by. Upon arrival in Verona, make a day of wandering around the city’s cobblestone corridors and passing some time by shopping or sitting alfresco at a local cafe or bar. Verona, known as the backdrop to Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” offers travelers an additional vacation destination option to truly experience the Romance of Italy.
Settled back in our leather seats aboard the train, we continue on a 35-minute journey to Brescia, to enjoy the most amazing lasagna I have ever tasted at a small place called Ristorante Al Frate. The lasagna alone is worth the stop but, before you know it, we are back aboard the train with another city experienced and only an hour and 45 minutes separating us for Venice. As the train approaches Venice, the Adriatic Sea emerges and sparkles through the panoramic train windows. We arrive at Venezia Santa Lucia station, which is situated right on the Grand Canal, where gondola rides for two await. What could be more romantic than that?
The best part about train travel is that you can get more trips out of one vacation. While recently visiting the Northern part of Italy, I decided to head across the border for a quick trip to Bellinzona, Switzerland. After a short hour and 35 minutes trip from Milan, the train emerges through the Swiss Alps to arrive in the stunning city in the Italian-speaking Ticino region. When exiting the train, don’t forget to pull the lever or hit the button to open the door, they are not automatic like in Italy! For a truly romantic lunch and to feel like royalty, head to the Grotto Castelgrande which offers incredible views over the city, the Alps and various other castles in the area.
After wandering the very “walkable” streets of Bellinzona and sampling the delicious white merlot indigenous to the region, take advantage of the Rail Europe Swiss FlexiPass, which provides unlimited travel and the Swiss Travel System including trains, buses and boats. Head to Zurich, Lucerne or Locarno. If you decide on Lucerne, enjoy lunch or dinner on a vintage paddle steamer before heading back to Milan after a restful and romantic vacation.