- 12 Days
- From £1,399
- London to Italy via Freiburg and the Gotthard Route through central Switzerland.
- The historic city of Parma
- Regional capital Bari, stunning Alberobello and Baroque Lecce in Puglia
- A night in Milan en route back to the UK
- Decide when you would like to travel
- Adapt the route to suit your plans
- Upgrade hotels and rail journeys
- Add extra nights, destinations and/or tours
- Standard class rail travel with seat reservations
- 11 nights’ handpicked hotel accommodation with breakfast
- Clearly-presented wallets for your rail tickets and hotel vouchers
- All credit card surcharges and prompt delivery of your travel documents to your home
Take a Eurostar across to Brussels this morning and connect with a German InterCity Express (ICE) train through to Frankfurt, Germany’s financial hub. Here, change onto another fast train through the south west of Germany to Freiburg im Breisgau on the edge of the Black Forest.
On arrival, it’s a short distance to the Novotel am Konzerthaus (or similar) where you have an overnight stay. Why not head into the old town area of Freiburg for a late dinner?
Today you take the civilised mid-morning train that runs direct from Freiburg to Milan. This enters Switzerland after around 40 minutes at Basel, and proceed through the Alps via the Gotthard Base Tunnel, that opened in 2016. The scenery both before and after the tunnel is spectacular as you pass lakes Lucerne and Lugano along the way.
Once you reach Milan, you have time for a coffee while you wait for your evening train to Parma, approximately 85 miles south of Milan and your home for the night. Check in at the NH Hotel Parma (or similar) for an overnight stay.
You have a morning to explore Parma, perhaps taking a visit to the 12th-century cathedral or the Teatro Regio Opera House in this delightful corner of Emilia-Romagna.
At lunchtime, board a Eurostar Italia Frecciabianca which takes you comfortably along the east coast of Italy and into Bari, Puglia’s capital, in time for dinner. Check into the Palace Hotel Bari (or similar) for a 2-night stay.
Your first stop in Puglia is in its maritime capital, Bari. Known as a strategic port for onward travel to Greece or Montenegro, Bari also has a charming medieval Old Town, known locally as Bari Vecchia which sits atop a peninsula between two harbours. Not to be missed here is the Basilica of Saint Nicholas with its gilded ceiling, floor mosaics and the tomb of Saint Nicholas (otherwise known as Santa Claus).
Elsewhere, the Romanesque cathedral and Swabian Castle (Castello Svevo) are also well worth a visit. The castle now hosts regular temporary exhibitions.
Enjoy another free morning in Bari and perhaps take a wander along the seafront promenade in the stately Murat Quarter. After an early lunch, return to the station and catch a regional train through the countryside of Puglia, sharing the scenic journey with locals as you change at the small town of Putignano. Here, a connecting bus will take you to Alberobello, the home of the famous Trulli houses.
On arrival, make your way to the Palazzo Scotto (or similar) , where you’ll be staying for the next 2 nights.
Alberobello is best-known for its trulli housing, a fascinating feature of this part of Puglia. A construction with conical roof put together without mortar. Alberobello is designated a UNESCO world heritage site – as its collection of over 1,500 trulli in an townscape environment is unique. Some of the trulli are now used as shops, restaurants, and accommodation, although many are still lived in by locals.
As you would expect, Alberobello is popular with tourists, but not overrun, thanks to its relative remoteness compared to the more touristy western Italian coastline.
Catch a Trenitalia bus this morning for a 20-minute ride to the small town of Martina Franca, where you are back on the rail network. From here, take a regional train through to Lecce, right at the southeastern tip of the ‘heel’ of Italy. On arrival here check in at the Risorgimento Hotel (or similar) for 3 nights.
Lecce is often known as the Florence of the South thanks to its impressive collection of Baroque architecture including a stunning cathedral with a five-floor belfry.
You have two full days in Lecce to explore at your own pace. The town has two main focal points, the Piazza Sant’Oronzo and Piazza del Duomo. The Piazza Sant’Oronzo boasts an interesting mix of modern and historic architectural styles, including the town’s Roman amphitheatre, half of which is still underground.
Lecce is also a great base for exploring the Salento Peninsula – the stunning coastal towns of Gallipoli (pictured) and Otranto are 90 minutes away by local railway and in 2½ hours you can reach Leuca, right on the ‘tip of the heel’.
Today you take a comfortable and air-conditioned Eurostar Italia Frecciargento or Frecciablanca right up the spine of Italy, via the Apennine Mountains to Milan.
Here, check in for an overnight stay at the Starhotels Anderson (or similar) conveniently located near the main station. Spend an evening exploring the centre of Milan and perhaps stop at one of the tempting restaurants for dinner. We can also add extra nights in Milan for you if you would like to extend your stay here.
It’s a fairly early start today, so make sure you are up early for breakfast in your hotel before making your way to Milan Garibaldi station for a direct TGV service to Paris. There’s a bar buffet car on the train where you can buy lunch or you might prefer to stock up on supplies in Milan before you leave.
In Paris, cross over to the Gare du Nord and catch the Eurostar for a quick journey under the Channel to London.
Typical hotels on this itinerary
The Novotel Freiburg am Konzerthaus is situated next to the city’s major Concert Hall and offers easy access to the historic old town as well as the station, which is just 100 metres away. The hotel also boasts an indoor pool, a spa area, a restaurant and a bar where you can enjoy drinks and snacks in the evening.
Located within an architectural complex which also houses Parma’s main railway station, the NH Parma Hotel is also in easy reach of the city centre. The modern bedrooms are all sound-proofed with air-conditioning and free Wi-Fi internet access. Enjoy a drink in the bar or an Italian meal in the hotel’s stylish restaurant.
The Palace Hotel is situated in a central location, close to the seafront and the Castello Svevo. Bedrooms are furnished in a unique style with a combination of period furnishings and contemporary art works. There is also a rooftop restaurant with a garden overlooking the Old Town as well as a well-equipped gym.
The Palazzo Scotto occupies an historic building in the centre of Alberobello. The hotel boasts individually designed suites and also features a panoramic rooftop terrace with hot tub and sun loungers. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel.
Located in Lecce’s historic centre, the Risogimento Resort offers modern and comfortable air-conditioned bedrooms in an historic building. The hotel also boasts a rooftop restaurant with stunning views, a bar where you can relax with a drink and snack, and a tranquil spa area.
The Building Hotel is a modern property overlooking the Aurelian Walls, close to Rome Termini rail station. As well as comfortable, well-appointed bedrooms, there is also a restaurant, a spa with hot tub and sauna, a gym and a 24-hour reception desk.