6 Breathtaking Rail Journeys in Italy:

Mountains, Valleys, and Seas Await

6 Breathtaking Rail Journeys
in Italy

Mountains, Valleys, and Seas Await

It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.

Just as Ralph Waldo Emerson rightly said, relishing the journey is as important as arriving at the destination. This philosophy comes alive as you step aboard Italy’s scenic trains, where the expedition itself evolves into a distinctive opportunity to marvel at ever-changing landscapes – from majestic mountains to lush valleys, traversing fields, and oceans.

These trains transcend their roles as mere modes of transportation; their windows serve as portals to breathtaking vistas all year round, crafting an unparalleled travel experience that will keep you captivated by the scenery. Whether you harbor a fondness for the sea or the mountains, a train tailored to your preferences is poised to spirit you away to iconic destinations. Be it vintage carriages or modern convoys, every route becomes a chance to discover Italy from a fresh perspective.

Leave behind your car and immerse yourself in an authentic and environmentally respectful journey. Discover the most exquisite Italian destinations to explore while basking in the comfort of scenic rail journeys. Uncover our curated selection of captivating train trips and relish the beauty of Italy’s landscapes.

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Rittner Bahn: Vintage Charm Amidst the Dolomites

Nestled amidst the Dolomites, the historic Rittner Bahn connects Collalbo and Soprabolzano in a brief 18-minute journey across the heart of South Tyrol. 

In operation all year round since its inauguration in 1907, this little train lets you travel in vintage carriages, enjoying the sight of the Dolomites emerging picturesquely from the woods. Moreover, the experience includes opportunities to savor local products at traditional farms, explore the Beekeeping Museum, and follow in the footsteps of Sigmund Freud along the dedicated walk to Collalbo.

Boarding the Rittner Bahn equates to embarking on a captivating journey back in time, immersing yourself in fairytale-like Tyrolean landscapes. Undoubtedly, it is one of the most splendid experiences to savor amidst the mountains of South Tyrol.

Rittner Bahn Scenic Trail: Train Amidst Woods and Landscapes

The Trans-Siberian Railway of Italy: Abruzzo and Molise Adventure

Traversing the picturesque landscapes of Abruzzo and Molise, the Trans-Siberian Railway of Italy links Sulmona (Abruzzo) and Castel di Sangro (Molise) along a captivating 128.7-kilometer route. This journey is a unique opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the natural and cultural splendors of these two enchanting Italian regions.

This railway owes its nickname to the abundant winter snowfall that transforms the landscape, creating a scenery reminiscent of the famous Russian Trans-Siberian. Along the route, you pass through two national parks and a nature reserve, offering breathtaking panoramas ranging from the majestic Apennine mountains to the spectacular karst plateaus and charming valleys.

However, the uniqueness of this journey doesn’t solely lie in the landscape. Aboard the train, you can travel in authentic carriages dating back to the 1920s and 1930s, creating an even more captivating and engaging experience. As you traverse bridges, aqueducts, and viaducts, you can listen to geographical descriptions of the territory through onboard speakers or get carried away by a pleasant soundtrack that amplifies the evocative atmosphere.

Inaugurated way back in 1897, this scenic train isn’t just a remarkable tourist attraction, it’s also a genuine masterpiece of railway engineering. This route offers an unmissable opportunity to immerse yourself in the wonders of a fascinating area, providing an experience worth relishing at least once in a lifetime. 

The Foliage Train: Vigezzina – Centovalli Railway

The Vigezzina – Centovalli Railway seamlessly connects the charming landscapes of Piedmont to the picturesque Swiss city of Locarno, stretching across a 52-kilometer route.

Starting its journey from Domodossola, a medieval city nestled at the gateway of seven alpine valleys, the train traverses this lush nature adorned with characteristic villages, ultimately arriving at Locarno. This lakeside city overlooks Lake Maggiore and is enveloped by spectacular panoramas. 

As the train leisurely meanders through this captivating route, unveiling stunning vistas amid deep gorges, untamed mountains, flowing rivers, and cascading waterfalls that punctuate the Centovalli and Valle Vigezzo landscapes, passengers are treated to an unforgettable experience. Valle Vigezzo, also known as the Valley of Painters due to its stunning autumnal palette, rightfully earns the title of the “Foliage Train” route.

For those seeking to fully savor the ambiance of these places, there’s even the enticing option to pause the journey, spending a night in one of the charming villages along the route before resuming your exploration the following day.

The foliage train offers a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in a multicolored atmosphere, unveiling astonishing panoramas and vistas that are nothing short of fairy-tale-like.

Scenic Foliage Train on Vigezzina–Centovalli Railway amidst vibrant autumn foliage.

Val D'Orcia Railway: Tuscan Tranquility and Historic Charm

The picturesque railway line connecting Asciano in the province of Siena to Monte Antico in the enchanting province of Grosseto offers an unforgettable landscape adventure through the splendid Val D’Orcia, a UNESCO-recognized and protected area, covering a total route of 51.2 kilometers.

For those who cherish the tranquility of the countryside and the gentle Tuscan hills more than the typical seaside or mountain scenery, this route is an authentic treasure to explore. A journey of around an hour and a half winds through cultivated fields lined with characteristic cypress trees, gently rolling hills and departing from inhabited centers. 

The route crosses Val d’Orcia Park, traversing the Brunello di Montalcino production areas and the captivating Crete Senesi before reaching the magnificent city of Siena. However, it’s during the transition from spring to summer that the landscape undergoes a breathtaking transformation: sunflowers in full bloom stretch as far as the eye can see on the slopes of Val d’Orcia, creating a mesmerizing and colorful panorama.

Beyond the captivating landscape, this railway provides a unique opportunity to journey aboard a historic train, equipped with a steam locomotive and vintage carriages from the 1930s. This experience serves as a genuine window into the heart of Tuscany, inviting you to immerse yourself in the natural and cultural splendors of this captivating region.

Bernina Express: Alpine Majesty and UNESCO Heritage

This railway line, also known as the Bernina Red Train, has been connecting the picturesque town of Tirano in Lombardy to the Swiss gem, St. Moritz, for over a century. Its carriages transport passengers across the Alps, meandering past mountain lakes, historic villages, and glaciers, on a three-hour journey that reaches its pinnacle at an altitude of 2,256 meters at the Bernina Hospice.

Whether it’s summer or winter, the Bernina Express recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2008, offers extraordinary views. During summer, passengers traverse vast mountain meadows, while in winter, the landscape is transformed into a captivating expanse of snow. An audio guide in four languages narrates the wonders of the places along the journey.

If regular carriages are insufficient, rest assured that you can reserve a spot in open-top carriages during the summer or panoramic ones with dome windows during winter, offering an even broader panorama. 

This journey seamlessly blends the allure of the past with modern comfort, providing awe-inspiring views that will linger in your memory. Step aboard the Bernina Express and discover the thrill of crossing the Alps in a truly distinctive and captivating manner.

Curious about exploring more of Italy’s diverse landscapes? Delve into our article on the best places to explore in the north of Italy to uncover the enchanting contrasts between these regions and complement your rail journey adventures.

Bernina Express railway journey: Red train traversing railway with mountain lake beside, framed by lush green mountains in the backdrop.

Little Green Train of Sardinia: Island Essence Unveiled

The Little Green Train offers a chance to swiftly discover the true essence of Sardinia. With the longest tourist railway network in Europe (438 km), the Little Green Train connects the heart of the island to the coast through five distinct routes.

Among these, the Palau-Tempio route, spanning 59 km, connects the sea to the mountains, traversing the captivating Gallura. Meanwhile, the Macomer – Bosa railway, covering 46 km, crosses the Campeda Plateau and reaches the azure sea of Bosa. The Mandas – Laconi route, described in David Herbert Lawrence’s book “Sea and Sardinia,” and the Mandas – Seui route, followed by Arbatax-Gairo, complete the picture.

These railway journeys offer a chance to slowly explore the enchanting landscapes of one of the Mediterranean’s gems: mountains, sea, and the authentic scents of the island intertwining in an unparalleled travel experience. For over 130 years, the Green Train has connected the island’s interior to the coast, revealing charming villages, breathtaking vistas, and the lesser-known face of Sardinia. Crossing territories rich with vegetation, bridges, gorges, and valleys, the Little Green Train unveils a hidden and unspoiled Sardinia.

With its five distinct itineraries, the Green Train provides an unforgettable experience to leisurely and authentically explore the authentic beauty of the island.

Little Green Train in Sardinia's Lush Woods: Enchanting Rail Journey amidst Nature's Beauty.

Italy’s scenic rail journeys are more than transportation; they are gateways to enchanting experiences. From vintage carriages to snow-clad panoramas, sunflower-studded valleys to Sardinia’s untamed beauty, these journeys are more than the destinations; they are moments to be etched into your memory. Step aboard and let landscapes script stories on your soul. Embrace these rail journeys, for they etch indelible memories onto your wanderlust-filled heart.

Final day in Italy and craving some scenic rail journeys without the burden of your luggage? Explore our app to locate convenient luggage storage options near you. Travel light and savor every moment of your unforgettable expedition.

Play Store

App Store

Download the Bags Parking app!

Find your closest luggage storage and leave your suitcases for as long as you need. Enjoy your journey without the weight of your baggage.

Download the Bags
Parking app right away!

Find your closest luggage storage and leave your suitcases for as long as you need. Enjoy your journey without the weight of your baggage.

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