Italy

Italia’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: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/italy

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


Italian Olive Market

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.


Russia

PTG’s escorted rail tours of Russia is for inquisitive travellers who are after the magic of Siberia and the Yamal Peninsula.

Russia, the largest country in the world, extends from eastern Europe to northern Asia. Its terrain is vast and diverse, covering Arctic tundra, Siberian coniferous forests known as Taiga, soaring mountain ranges and wide, grassy plains. One of the best ways to experience Russia is to embark on a train journey with PTG’s escorted rail holidays.

Siberia and the Yamal Peninsula are the focus of PTG. Starting in Moscow, our tour swiftly swaps the cosmopolitan capital with a series of quiet, remote Siberian towns, including an unforgettable journey on the world’s northernmost railway to the Yamal Peninsula, an area rich in natural gas reserves. After a few days in Siberia, we’ll fly to St Petersburg and visit its many glorious attractions, including the Winter Place, the Hermitage, the Children’s Railway (both northern and southern) and the Russian Railway Museum, to name but a few.

Yamal peninsula, Russia

New Zealand

Experience New Zealand’s rich rail heritage, unique Maori culture and natural wonders with PTG’s escorted rail tours.

New Zealand is a land of superlatives. Divided into two main islands – the North Island and the South Island – plus some 700 smaller islands, New Zealand’s biggest lures are its sprawling natural beauty and rich and unique wildlife, epitomised by the flightless kiwi bird.

PTG’s escorted rail holidays in New Zealand are developed by our local rail experts working in conjunction with regional tourist boards to highlight the country’s rail heritage (including trips to preserved railways), along with indigenous Maori culture and natural wonders. Our exclusive programmes also incorporate visits to transport museums and wineries. So if you’re after a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience, talk to PTG about a rail holiday in New Zealand today.

Auckland, New Zealand

Argentina

PTG’s escorted rail tours of Argentina include private charter trains through the plains of Patagonia.

From the snow-capped peaks of the Andes in the west to the lapping waves of the Atlantic Ocean in the east, Argentina offers something for every traveller. And for railfans who prefer to see the country at a leisurely pace, the rewards are even more immense.

PTG’s escorted rail tour of Argentina is about unearthing the hidden gems – in this case, journeying through the remote plains of Patagonia onboard the Old Patagonian Express, or La Trochita (which means ‘the little narrow-gauge’). The line, immortalised in the 1978 book of American writer Paul Theroux, is the last and longest 100% steam-operated railroad in South America. In this exclusive tour, PTG will charter a few trains that take you from San Carlos de Bariloche to Esquel, the southernmost stop of the legendary line, with an expert guide on hand to explain the history behind and take care of you.

Esquel, Argentina

Vietnam Train Experiences

Travel through some of the most breath taking scenery in south-east Asia, exploring different railways, including the spectacular Muong Hoa Mountain railway.

Currently PTG are inviting interest in this destination from it’s regular travelers and new travelers alike.

Once the frontline between the opposing cultures of free-enterprise and doctrinaire state control, Vietnam is very much now up-and-coming. We ride the main arterial railway from the Ho Che Minh to Hanoi using day-time trains.

Rail & Cultural Journeys In Vietnam



Saudi Arabia Train Experiences

Arid desertscapes and green oases together with the country’s rich cultural heritage make Saudia Arabi an irrisistable destination for the intrepid traveller.

Currently PTG are inviting interest in this destination from it’s regular travellers and new travellers alike.

Saudi Arabia has an incredible mix of advanced, high-tech cityscapes and traditional arabic ways of life. The currently proposed tour would take in arid desertscapes and green oases together with the country’s rich cultural heritage from the incredible Nabatean Tombs at Madain Saleh, mudbrick architecture at Ha’il, to the fortifications of Tarout Island Dammam.


Bhutan

Bhutan has long been overlooked due to its popular neighbours, but PTG highlights the Himalayan Kingdom.

Bhutan did not allow tourists until the 1970’s and continues to cap the number of annual tourists, making a visit to this Himalayan paradise a truly special experience. The lucky people that get to visit are welcomed with friendly locals and magical monasteries, the most popular being Tiger’s Nest nestled in the cliffside of the upper Paro valley. In this predominantly Buddhist nation, visitors will be taken back in time and overwhelmed with ultimate peace.

On the way to Bhutan, stops in Kolkata and Darjeeling are essential. In Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal State, tourists will be filled with gratitude at The Mother House, where Mother Teresa lived and served and is now buried. Beyond that, you can tour a railway museum featuring 150-year-old steam locomotives, carriages and saloon cars. In Darjeeling, the highlight is a 19th century steam train on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway set against the backdrop of Mt Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest mountain.

Rail & Cultural Journeys In Bhutan



Sweden

Ditch the idea that Stockholm is the must-see in Sweden, the old town grandeur of Sweden’s Dutch-style cities should not be missed.

The west coast of Sweden is home to two of the country’s largest cities, each offering a unique coastal experience. In the battle for supremacy, many Swedish cities are overlooked for Stockholm. But, Malmo and Göteborg put up a good fight, offering a less-touristy environment with a more relaxing experience. They are the perfect cities to enjoy a fika break to reconnect with friends, an important ritual in Swedish culture.

The PTG train dives down into the Öresund link from København and rushes out to expose you to Malmo – where you will find Sweden’s oldest Renaissance castle and Folkets Park which is the oldest public park in the world. From here, travel up the coast to Göteborg, where travellers can enjoy traditional Nordic seafood and tour the city’s extensive tram network.


Denmark

Come experience Danish “hygge” and learn why Denmark is repeatedly named one of the world’s happiest and most prosperous countries.

“Hygge” refers to “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality” that makes visitors feel content as soon as they step off the train. The colourful buildings lining the canal only add to the magic of this quaint city. Sightseeing in the capital city, København, is nearly endless. For example, guests can take boat trips around the harbour and snap pictures of the iconic Little Mermaid statue. For historians, Elsinore Castle is home to much of the action in Shakespeare’s, “Hamlet”, and the National Railway Museum and Danish Tramways Museum offer rich history for train enthusiasts.


Ecuador

The complete restoration of Ecuador’s major railways takes train tours to lengths like never before.

Ecuador has the most biodiversity per square kilometre of any nation, and PTG will show you all of it on the newly accessible railways. Train riders will see the lush green peaks of the Andes Mountains and experience the zigzagging ride up the Devil’s Nose, a mountain with almost perpendicular walls. This impressive engineering takes you on one of the world’s most adventurous train rides. During the Andes tour, you will pass by some of the world’s most famous volcanoes, including the world’s highest active volcano, Cotopaxi.

Once off the train, visitors can tour the capital city of Quito, the world’s first UNESCO World Heritage city nestled high in the mountains. The colonial centre boasts an impressive blend of European and Moorish architecture in the 16th century churches and plazas and is filled with vibrant nightlife.

Rail & Cultural Journeys In Ecuador