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I Chose a Slower and Older Train Route through Italy’s Countryside — Here’s Why It Was Worth It

When it comes to train travel, I’ve always had a soft spot for older, slower, and more charming trains. While high-speed trains are convenient, I believe they can sometimes take away from the experience of exploring smaller towns and countryside landscapes. That’s why when I heard about Italy’s heritage train program, I immediately knew I had to try it out.

Preserving Italy’s Railway Heritage

The Fondazione FS Italiane, a nonprofit organization that manages Italy’s historic railways, offers a variety of itineraries across the country. Known as Binari Senza Tempo or “Timeless Tracks,” these routes take passengers through territories of great natural or archaeological value. This initiative has helped preserve 400 historic vehicles, some dating back to the age of steam, at the National Railway Museum of Pietrasara in Naples.

Choosing the Scenic Route

Instead of opting for a popular high-speed train, I decided to take a day-long excursion from Turin to the village of Canelli in Piedmont. This route promised a leisurely ride through the wine country, with tastings along the way.

A Journey on the Centoporte Train

Departing from Turin’s central railway station, our train was hauled by a half-century-old diesel-electric locomotive, adorned in the colors of the Italian flag. The real beauty, however, was the four centoporte passenger cars. These vintage carriages, known for their unique design with a hundred doors, were in operation from the late 1920s to the 1980s.

Exploring Piedmont’s Wine Country

As we made our way through the picturesque countryside of Piedmont, we passed green fields, orchards of hazelnut trees, and terraced hills lined with Muscat grapes. The journey allowed us to immerse ourselves in the region’s rich wine culture.

Tasting Asti Spumante and Exploring Canelli

During a stop in the sparkling wine town of Asti, sommeliers treated us to tastings of Asti Spumante, the region’s signature sparkling wine. We also had the opportunity to visit Canelli’s underground wine cellars, known as “underground cathedrals,” where bottles of Spumante are stored. The day concluded with a leisurely alfresco lunch showcasing Piedmontese specialties.

A Different Perspective

What made this trip truly special was the slower pace of the journey. Unlike high-speed trains, the centoporte train allowed us to lower the windows and truly connect with the landscape. As we traveled back to Turin, we waved at children who emerged from trackside farmhouses, creating a sense of camaraderie and connection with the local community.

A Refreshing Alternative

discover the beauty of italy's countryside, from rolling hills to picturesque vineyards, and experience the charm of a traditional italian lifestyle.

While modern high-speed trains have their advantages, exploring Italy’s countryside on an older, slower train provided a refreshing alternative. It allowed me to immerse myself in the local culture, savor the natural beauty, and forge connections with the people along the way. So next time you plan a trip to Italy, consider taking the scenic route and experiencing the country at a leisurely pace.

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By Maya Di Maria

Hello, I'm Maya, a 39-year-old Travel Agent. I specialize in creating unforgettable travel experiences for my clients. With my expertise and attention to detail, I ensure that every trip is tailored to meet their unique needs and preferences. Let's turn your travel dreams into reality!