Italy’s beautiful, rich landscape is spread across 20 stunning regions, presenting travellers with the opportunity to experience unique historical, cultural and gastronomic wonders – no matter where they are in the country.

There’s an undeniable romance to Italy – an irresistible allure that entices visitors to return over and over in an attempt to rekindle their passion and embrace la dolce vita or the sweet life. With PTG Tour’s escorted rail holidays through Italy, you will see more and perhaps also gain a better insight into the culture, as your tour leader and local guides are readily available to explain the attractions and answer your questions. 

Italy at a glance

Capital: Rome
Language: Italian
Money: Euro
Travel advice:

A gratitude of 10-20% is often added to a restaurant bill. If not, it’s customary to tip 10-15%. In bars and cafés, customers usually round the change up to the nearest euro.

  • New Year’s Day – January 1
  • Epiphany  – January 6
  • Easter Sunday – date varies
  • Easter Monday – date varies
  • Liberation Day – April 25
  • Workers’ Day – May 1
  • Republic Day – June 2
  • Assumption Day – August 15
  • All Saints’ Day – November 1
  • Immaculate Conception – December 8
  • Christmas Day – December 25
  • St Stephen’s Day – December 26
  • Buongiorno  – good morning
  • Buonasera – good evening
  • Grazie – thank you
  • Prego – you’re welcome

Exploring Italy

Italy has 55 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, tied with China and they jointly take the lead as countries with the most UNESCO-listed sites. Many of these sites, like the historic city of Rome and romantic Venice are high on many a traveller’s bucket list, attracting millions of visitors each year. Others, like Urbino and San Gimignano, maybe less well-known in comparison to the heavyweight attractions, but their long and storied past is equally recognised and treasured.

Chances are, you’ll enjoy good food and wine while travelling through Italy by rail. Many dishes we are so familiar with today have their roots in this amazing country. With PTG Tour’s escorted rail tours through Italy, you’ll have many opportunities to taste the local variations, listen to the backstories, or even search for authentic Italian ingredients that you can’t get at home. On days when lunches aren’t provided, your guide will be happy to recommend places based on your preference.

Once upon a time, people outside of Italy only knew basket Chianti and Lambrusco as Italian wine, but the scene is quite different nowadays. Italy is now the world’s top wine producer and the world has woken up to its vast and diverse varieties (said to be around 350). Famous Italian red to try includes Barolo, Primitivo, Sassicaia, Valpolicella and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. If you prefer white, keep a lookout for Fiano, Greco di Tufo, Verdicchio and Vermentino. Of course, we must not leave Italy without drinking a few sparkling wines like Franciacorta, Prosecco and Trento.

Long, thin and shaped like a boot, Italy has a diverse climate with temperatures vary considerably from north to south, and from season to season. Generally, travellers like to go to Italy from April to June, and September to October, when the climate is mild and temperatures aren’t too extreme.

Due to the Alps, the northern part of the country has a mountain climate with cold winters and mild summers. To skiers’ delight, snow usually starts to fall in late November and may last till April.    

Below the Alps lies the Po Valley, a fertile region that runs from the Alps to the Adriatic Sea. The climate here is continental, meaning it can be cold and harsh in the winter while hot and humid in the summer. Cities in the Po Valley are Turin, Milan, Verona, Bologna, Venice and Ravenna. In Milan, the average winter temperature is 3°C while the average summer temperature is 25°C. 

Central Italy, comprising the regions of Tuscany, Umbria, The Marches and Lazio, has a Mediterranean climate along the coast, a humid subtropical climate as you move inland, then a continental climate in cities nestled in the Apennine Range, the backbone of peninsular Italy. Rome, being relatively close to the coast, certainly enjoys mild winters (8°C) and hot summers (25°C); while precipitation is pretty consistent from September to May. 

Southern Italy, along with the islands of Sicily and Sardinia, enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate, although the weather gets milder in the hilly interior. In Palermo, Sicily’s capital on the coast, June to August is warm and dry (22°C), while winter is very mild (9°C) and relatively wet. 

For the hotter months: light cotton or linen clothing, sunglasses, a sun hat, walking shoes, and some warm layers for the cooler evenings.

For the colder months: warm clothes, a hat, a scarf, gloves and waterproofs.

The UNESCO-listed Rhaetian Railway is recognised for its amazing engineering feats and also its impact on social-economic in the Central Alps. There are two lines under the Rhaetian Railway; one is the Albula line that serves Thusis and St Moritz, both destinations are in Switzerland, the other is the Bernina line that runs between St Moritz and Tirano, a charming town in Lombardy, northern Italy. The Bernina line is said to be the highest transalpine railway link and one of the steepest adhesion railways in the world.

Italy has quite a few fantastic railway museums including the National Railway Museum of Pietrarsa (near Naples), Piedmont Railway Museum in Savigliano (near Turin), and Railway Museum of Trieste Campo Marzio in northeast Italy.

  • A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
  • An Italian in Italy by Beppe Severgnini
  • Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall by Christopher Hibbert
  • Midnight in Sicily by Peter Robb
  • Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

Why choose PTG Tour’s escorted rail tours through Italy

  • Established in 1998, PTG has evolved into a leading tour agency offering rail-based holidays with a focus on culture and heritage.
  • You can choose from a diverse product range, based on your preference and budget.
  • Your escorted rail tour comes with a professional tour leader who will take great care of you, plus local guides when applicable.
  • All hotels and restaurants included in your package are vetted and approved by the local teams.
  • You can travel in confidence as all of our tours are ATOL and ABTA protected.