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Where Italy's new 'tourist trains' can take you in 2024

The Local Italy
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Where Italy's new 'tourist trains' can take you in 2024
A passenger waits for a train at Manarola, Cinque Terre. Italy's rail network is set to expand to include special 'tourist train' routes. (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP)

New rail routes are planned to take visitors from Italy's major cities to smaller destinations under a scheme aimed at making tourism in the country more sustainable.


Though some passengers may have not-too-distant memories of run-down trains trundling through the Italian countryside, national rail services have improved significantly overall in the past two decades and journeys are becoming faster and more comfortable.

For visitors, rail travel is already seen as a generally reliable and efficient way to tour Italy's major destinations, and trains are expected to play a bigger part in Italy's tourism industry from next year.

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The Italian state-owned railway company Ferrovie dello Stato (FS) has announced plans to introduce several new tourist-focused services, known as Treni Turistici Italiani, employing ‘luxury’ trains and reconditioned vintage locomotives on some popular routes as well as with lesser-known itineraries.

The initiative comes as Italy struggles to manage overtourism: the issue of too many visitors cramming into popular destinations, such as Rome or Venice, at one time.

The number of international tourists visiting Italy is only expected to keep rising, with an estimated 75 million in 2023 up from 56 million the year before, according to FS.

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The new tourist train services, which appear to be aimed at Italians as well as foreign visitors, are hoped to encourage more people to travel beyond the major cities and best-known tour destinations, encouraging a more sustainable form of travel which supports local economies in lesser-visited areas, FS says on its website.

The new lines were first announced shortly after FS launched a special direct service this summer linking Rome with the ancient archaeological site of Pompeii, a journey which previously required changing to a local stopping service.

Though there’s no information yet about exactly when in 2024 the other planned services will be launched, or how much tickets will cost, the announcements so far give an idea of what passengers can expect.

FS says it plans to run three different types of services – from luxurious international services to slower-paced regional lines – each aimed at making the train journey “an integral part of the vacation".


The Lusso (Luxury) services will be fronted by the Orient Express La Dolce Vita fleet, with a total of six trains, each featuring “deluxe cabins” and a fine-dining restaurant, travelling across 14 Italian regions and regularly crossing national borders to reach Paris, Istanbul or Split, Croatia.

Meanwhile, the Espresso (Express) division will employ late 20th-century trains restored to modern standards, with sleeper cabins, restaurant cars, and storage areas for bikes and skis. These will link Rome, Milan, and potentially other large cities to popular seaside or mountain destinations.

The first of these will be launched in mid-December 2023, linking Rome with the popular ski resort of Cortina d'Ampezzo in the Dolomites.

The Omnibus category will include slower (and lower-priced) regional services, with itineraries aimed at exploring lesser-known regions and their natural landscapes.


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