Italy by Rail: Venice, Rome and the Amalfi Coast

Laura

When my husband and I were planning our honeymoon, Italy was right at the top of the list. It ticked off everything we were after – great food and wine, warm weather, and a mix of sightseeing and relaxation. Two weeks gave us just the right amount of time to cover off two cities and then head to the coast for a beach break. We opted to travel around by train – neither of us had driven abroad before, so we didn’t fancy navigating around central Rome or negotiating the hairpin bends on the Amalfi Coast. Here’s how our trip panned out.

Week One – Venice and Rome

Gondola on the Venice Lagoon

We arrived in Venice on a post-wedding high, ready for three days of canalside walks and Prosecco-fuelled lunches. We gazed up at the golden mosaics inside St. Mark’s Basilica, followed in Casanova’s footsteps on the Bridge of Sighs, and bagged front-row seats on a vaporetto (water bus) along the Grand Canal. Santa Croce and Dorsoduro were fantastic sestieri (districts) to wander around, with pretty bridges, quiet canals, and café-edged piazzas. They were far less crowded than the areas around St. Mark’s Square, too.

From Venice, we headed down to Rome. Our high-speed Frecciargento took three hours and 40 minutes to travel from Santa Lucia station to Roma Termini, passing through the beautiful countryside of Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany and Lazio. Along the way we stopped at Florence, where we got a glimpse of the famous Duomo through the window. The seats were spacious and comfortable, and as they’re all assigned, there’s no worry about not finding seats together. There’s plenty of space to store suitcases, and upcoming stations are displayed on electronic boards and announced a couple of minutes before arrival, so you’ve got plenty of time to get your bags together when it’s your stop.

Once we’d arrived at Termini, we walked to our hotel, but there are plenty of taxis and buses available, and you’re on both lines of the metro.

The Trevi Fountain In Rome

It wasn’t our first visit to Rome (it’s one of our favourite cities), so we spent our few days here seeing old favourites (the Pantheon, St. Peter’s Basilica, Castel Sant’Angelo) and discovering new ones (Borghese Gardens, Church of Sant’Ignazio di Loyola). The Trastevere neighbourhood was a great place to spend a rainy morning, with lots of little cafés to duck into for a cioccolata calda (hot chocolate). And, of course, we threw a couple of euros into the Trevi Fountain to make sure we’d be back someday.

Week Two – Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast

For our second week, we made our way to the coast. We booked seats on an intercity train out to Napoli Centrale, which took a little over two hours and cost just €9. From our arrival platform at Naples, we followed the signs downstairs to the Circumvesuviana, the line which travels around Vesuvius to Sorrento. We bought tickets at the station easily and were on board a train within half an hour. The trains are a bit older than the long-distance ones, and ours was packed with commuters when we boarded – luckily it emptied out after 20 minutes or so. Sorrento is the last stop on the line, and the station is right in the centre of town, so it’s easy to get to most hotels.

A Group of resturants by the harbour side Sorrento

Sorrento is a lovely, laid-back town, with cafés, restaurants and hole-in-the-wall boutiques lining the narrow backstreets. Some of my highlights included people-watching in Piazza Tasso, buying made-to-measure leather sandals in a tiny shoe shop, and walking down to Marina Grande for a seafood supper overlooking the water. We also spend a day exploring the ruins at Pompeii, an easy train ride from Sorrento station.

Our final stop was Positano, a town that’s graced the cover of hundreds of Italy tourism brochures. Houses and hotels painted in pastel shades cling to a steep cliffside, leading down to a course-sand beach. The main shopping street is shaded by a pergola, and is edged with boutiques selling lace clothing, hand-painted bottles of limoncello and lemon-scented products. Aside from an afternoon exploring Amalfi and Ravello (you can travel by bus or boat), our time here was all about relaxing – and enjoying these views!

A view of the beach & houses of Positano

Like the sound of this trip? Chat to one of our Italy Experts to create your own itinerary, or check out some of our favourite multi-centre holidays.

 

Photo credit: Sometime Traveller