The latest high-speed Frecciarossa service travels from Milan to Rome in under 3 hours! By car, the journey would be much longer and by plane just getting to and from the airports would altogether take longer! Trains are well maintained and on the crème de la crème of high-speed trains reservations are necessary therefore there is no overcrowding and you are often served a meal. I remember once, having to travel from Milan to Bologna, and I travelled on one such service which felt like being in the first class section of a plane; newspapers were available and a delicious hot meal and drinks were served. I was really most impressed!
Travelling by train always reminds me of my early days in England and the first time I left Italy in the late 1960’s. Travelling by plane in those days was prohibitive and most people on a budget took the train. The journey home to Italy was a long one beginning from London Victoria to the UK port of Dover, the channel ferry crossing across to France before boarding the night sleeper and arriving in Milan the next day.
I loved the feeling of the train whizzing past the French countryside and the first glimpse of the Swiss Alps in the early morning made me very excited as I knew I would soon be in my beloved Italy. The atmosphere on those trains was amazing as most people were travelling home for holidays, so even if I was travelling alone, I was never alone – people chatted, laughed & joked, shared their food with you and after so many hours of travelling together you felt you were lifelong pals!
As we arrived at the impressive Milano Centrale station and the aroma of freshly made espresso and brioche hit you, some people parted, some went with me to board the train south to Naples and beyond. Thirty plus hours later, I arrived home. It certainly was some journey, but for me, unforgettable memories I will always treasure.
We are certainly lucky these days with a multitude of airlines who can fly us cheaply, quickly and directly to any part of Italy, but there is something about travelling by train which is rather romantic. It also gives you a sense of distance and you can relax and enjoy the views from the comfort of your seat.