TABLE 620: Bologna – Roma

(Part 4)

In March we have been looking at Table 620 for Bologna – Roma. Having travelled through some beautiful Italian landscapes we now make our final journey into the capital city via the pretty Cliffside medieval town of Orvieto.

Dominated by its Gothic cathedral, Orvieto has many cobbled lanes, medieval piazzas and churches to explore but it also hides a labyrinth of caves and tunnels beneath the city. The secret underground city of more than 1200 tunnels was used by wealthy families as a means of escape from the elevated city during times of siege and is now open to view through guided tours. The wonderful Duomo of Orvieto is the main ‘must-see’ sight in this town. Constructed in the 13th and 14th centuries, the black and white striped building in mixed Romanesque and Gothic styles, is one of the world’s greatest cathedrals.

After Orvieto the railway follows the River Tiber downstream to the capital, stopping first at Tiburtina station before the much larger Roma Termini. Rome’s transportation mecca boasts countless amenities and connections for Italy’s rail passengers. There are 32 platforms and daily service to cities all over Italy as well as elsewhere in Europe making this station one of the busiest in Europe. The rather limited Roman metro system goes around rather than through the city, it’s two lines A (red) and B (blue), cross at Termini Station with services approximately every 7-10 minutes. With above-ground transport being highly congested, the metro is often the best option for exploring the sites. As one of the world’s most romantic and inspiring cities, Rome has plenty of well-known tourist attractions but with the Colosseum being among the world’s most visited tourist destinations it can also be overwhelming. Make sure to reserve a whole day to explore the sights of Vatican City, the world’s smallest fully independent nation-state.  If there isn’t enough to occupy you there are also several day trips that can be taken away, such as to the ruined city of Pompeii and mainland Europe’s only active volcano – Vesuvius.

(Part 3)

This month we are switching our attention to Italy. Table 620 in our timetable shows timings for Bologna – Roma a journey of 413 kilometres through the beautiful Tuscan countryside of central Italy.

Having passed through the bustling Italian cities of Bologna and Florence we depart Firenze Santa Maria Novella into the Tuscan countryside to see some smaller but none the less beautiful cities. Try to get a seat on the left of the train for the next section up the Arno Valley to Arezzo to see some spectacular views across the river. It is worth a stop to explore Arezzo’s medieval old town set on a hilltop, it boasts some fine Renaissance architecture and museums as well as a Roman Amphitheatre and a cathedral. The main railway station is at the base of the city and though the walk is about 1 km all up hill, if you take it easy you can enjoy the entire city. From Arezzo the railway crosses into Umbria, stopping at 3 stations around the shores of Lake Trasimeno. Ferries operate to the islands and across the lake, particularly in the tourist season and there are plenty of activities for those that enjoy walking, water sports or cycling.

The next major stop is another hill-top city, Perugia, the capital of Umbria, famous for chocolate production. The train station is in the valley, a few kilometres from the centro storico (historic center) of the city. Most major attractions are at the top of the hill which is a very steep walk so most visitors will use either the Mini Metro railway, a local bus or a taxi from the station. Or for something a bit different take the escalators from the lower town which lead up through the remains of Rocca Paolina which was a 16th-century fortress. Little now remains of the fortress itself but when you come out into the daylight at Piazza Italia you will go through some of the medieval streets on which the fortress was built. One of the best things to do in Perugia is to wander through the narrow streets and along the walls at the edge of town for fine views of the valley.

It’s a short 4km  ride onto the next interesting stop of Assisi, famous as the birthplace of St Francis which remains a major pilgrimage centre as well as a World Heritage site. The town is dominated by two medieval castles as well as the monastery but there are also plenty of medieval churches and magnificent fresco’s for sightseers to enjoy.

(Part 2)

This month we are switching our attention to Italy. Table 620 in our timetable shows timings for Bologna – Roma a journey of 413 kilometres through the beautiful Tuscan countryside of central Italy.

Continuing our look at this slower route through central Italy, we depart Bologna Central on an Intercity train along the Porrettana line through the Apennines and our first stop is Prato, Tuscany’s second largest city. Prato is home to many museums and other cultural monuments with a lovely historic centre founded on textile production; the city is also where biscoti were invented.

After Prato it is a short hop to the beautiful city and World Heritage Site of Florence (Firenze) which attracts millions of tourists each year. Firenze Santa Maria Novella is main railway station and one of the busiest in Italy, Situated in the city centre, it is conveniently close to all the major tourist attractions. From here you can also catch connections onto another major tourist hub – Pisa. You could spend several days exploring Florence and still not fit everything in, with museums, churches, piazzas and bridges, artisans workshops, boutique shops and local markets to explore there is plenty to see and do. Florence is best explored on foot so if time is limited it may be worth joining a guided walking tour to allow you to pack in as many of the main sites as possible!

(Part 1)

This month we are switching our attention to Italy. Table 620 in our timetable shows timings for Bologna – Roma a journey of 413km through the beautiful Tuscan countryside of central Italy.

There is a high-speed service from Bologna Centrale which would take you to Roma in just under two hours, but as it runs mostly through tunnels and would turn the scenery into a blur, we are instead focusing on the local trains shown in Table 620 with an average journey time of just over 4 hours. These trains trace a quintessential Italian route, with stations set at the foot of medieval castle towns and enchanting lakeside resorts so there are many options for sight-seeing stops along the way with at cities such as Orvieto, Arezzo and Florence.

Bologna Central is Italy’s fifth-busiest station with regard to passenger traffic and has connections to neighbouring countries, with service to and from Austria, Germany and France. There is plenty to see and do in Bologna’s large historic centre which boasts a number of attractive Piazza, historic buildings, streets and statues. Among them, you should visit the Town Hall in the Palazzo d’Accursio, the beautiful Palazzo del Podesta and the gothic Basilica of San Petronio. Nearby is the Piazza del Nettuno where you’ll find the famous Fountain of Neptune and don’t forget to sample the city’s most famous gastronomic export – Bolognese sauce!

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