Treasures of Southern Italy

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Treasures of Southern Italy

from £3,522 excluding flights

  • 16 nights
  • Year round
  • Multi-destination
  • Rail
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italy looking across amalfi coast and positano istk

Treasures of Southern Italy

from £3,522 excluding flights

  • 16 nights
  • Year round
  • Multi-destination
  • Rail

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Highlights

In pictures
italy duomo cathedral milan istk

See Milan’s artistic masterpieces, from the duomo to The Last Supper

italy pompeii street bay of naples istk

Explore Herculaneum, Pompeii and Vesuvius with a private guide

italy looking toward positano village amalfi coast istk

Take an optional boat trip to Capri and sail into Positano

italy trulli buildings in alberobello apulia region astk

Tour Apulia with a private guide, visiting Alberobello’s trulli district

italy basilica di santa croce in lecce istk

Experience the Baroque splendour of Lecce’s cathedral

switzerland aerial view over limnat river zurich istk

Bookend your rail odyssey with visits to Milan, Bologna and Zurich

Why this trip...

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On track and flight free

Slow travel from London to the classic towns and cities of Europe with your rail tickets and accommodation taken care of

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Euro culture

Experience a wealth of history and heritage exploring the fascinating heart of Europe

canada forest trail istk well researched route white

Carefully planned

This itinerary has been thoughtfully designed to provide the experiences and places you'll enjoy at a comfortable pace

Overview

Travelling by rail from London, via Paris and Milan, there is so much to look forward to on this in-depth, yet relaxed, journey to Southern Italy. Also known as Mezzogiorno – the ‘land of the midday sun’ – it’s the home of Mediterranean cuisine, with wonderful seafood, aromatic herbs, vine-ripened tomatoes and plump olives. Rich in Romanesque and Baroque architecture, its towns and cities are some of Europe’s most fascinating and vivacious, while the archaeology of Southern Italy is a veritable treasure trove of Roman and Greek ruins.

Add the glittering coastlines of three azure seas – the Adriatic, Ionian and Tyrrhenian – plus dramatic landscapes ranging from volcanoes and limestone hills to citrus plantations and the stunning Amalfi Coast, and you have all the ingredients for an unforgettable journey of discovery.

Milan and Tuscany

Travel in comfort on the first stage of your scenic rail journey from London, via Paris, to Milan, where you have a couple of nights to soak up the city’s stylish ambience, feast your eyes on da Vinci’s The Last Supper and marvel at the elaborate Rooftops of the cathedral. Continue south through Tuscany, weaving past vineyards, cypress-studded hills and terracotta villages… then on through the province of Lazio and Rome before arriving in Campagna and the sleepless city of Naples.

Bay of Naples

Herculaneum and Pompeii – Italy’s most revealing Roman ruins – are brought vividly to life on private guided tours. You will also have time to delve into the wonderfully chaotic, head-spinning swirl of Naples. The city’s compact centre is an enticing maze of streets and piazzas, dotted with palaces, churches and iconic landmarks like the 13th-century Castel Nuovo and handsome glass-roofed arcade of Galleria Umberto I.

Sorrento, Capri and the Amalfi Coast

After Naples, enjoy the relaxed atmosphere in Sorrento and the beginning of your adventure along the Amalfi Coast. Arrive at the colourful cliffside town of Positano. Dimpled with hidden coves and offering breathtaking views at every turn, the southern flank of the Sorrento Peninsula unfurls along the Amalfi Coast. Pastel-hued villages tumble down vertiginous slopes to the sea; villas and chapels dot the forested mountain slopes, while the famous Path of the Gods offers the perfect vantage point from which to take it all in.

Matera and Apulia

Travelling east across the instep of Italy’s boot, you enter the little-visited region of Basilicata – a land of hill towns, sun-baked fields and dry ravines. One of Italy’s most fascinating towns lies at its heart. You’ll have three nights to fall under the spell of Matera – its lower Sassi district riddled with such an extraordinary collection of cave dwellings that it was declared a UNESCO World heritage Site in 1993. The neighbouring region of Apulia (or Puglia) is next on your itinerary. Travelling down the heel of Italy, you will experience Italian architecture at its most diverse – from the conical, whitewashed trulli houses of Alberobello to the Baroque flamboyance of Lecce’s cathedral. Returning to the UK, your rail odyssey follows the Adriatic coast north to Bologna, before threading through the Alps to Zurich and on to Paris and London.

Itinerary

Day 1 London - Milan

Depart London in the morning and travel by Eurostar to Paris Gare du Nord. Transfer to Gare de Lyon in time for lunch before embarking on your journey to Milan. Following two nights in Milan.

Depart London in the morning and travel by Eurostar to Paris Gare du Nord. Transfer to Gare de Lyon in time for lunch before embarking on your journey to Milan. Following two nights in Milan.

Day 2 Milan

Stylish Milan is eye-catching at every turn – whether you’re perusing designer labels in the trendy fashion district of Quadrilatero d’Oro or staring in awe at Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece The Last Supper, which graces Santa Maria delle Grazie. With a full day to explore the city, you will also have time to admire the vaulted glass shopping arcade of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and the glorious Gothic pile of Duomo di Milano, Italy’s largest cathedral. As well as craning your neck at the colonnaded interior, it’s actually outside, on the Rooftops, that this extraordinary building really takes your breath away, with no fewer than 135 spires bristling with statues and gargoyles. Overnight Milan.

Stylish Milan is eye-catching at every turn – whether you’re perusing designer labels in the trendy fashion district of Quadrilatero d’Oro or staring in awe at Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece The Last Supper, which graces Santa Maria delle Grazie. With a full day to explore the city, you will also have time to admire the vaulted glass shopping arcade of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and the glorious Gothic pile of Duomo di Milano, Italy’s largest cathedral. As well as craning your neck at the colonnaded interior, it’s actually outside, on the Rooftops, that this extraordinary building really takes your breath away, with no fewer than 135 spires bristling with statues and gargoyles. Overnight Milan.

Day 3 Milan - Naples

From Milan, enjoy a relaxing five-hour rail journey south through Tuscany and Rome before arriving in Naples for the next two nights. You might want to start your sightseeing at Caffé Gambrinus, famed for the city’s best gelato and pastries. Strolling along the canyon-like Spacconapoli (a pedestrianised street that literally ‘splits Naples’) you’ll discover authentic pizzeria, cafés and shops selling masks, clay nativity scenes and pasta. Historic sites include Castel Nuovo (its ramparts offering views across the Bay of Naples to Mt Vesuvius), the Royal Palace of Palazzo Reale, the San Gennaro Catacombs and the peaceful garden-framed cloister of Santa Chiara. Overnight Naples.

From Milan, enjoy a relaxing five-hour rail journey south through Tuscany and Rome before arriving in Naples for the next two nights. You might want to start your sightseeing at Caffé Gambrinus, famed for the city’s best gelato and pastries. Strolling along the canyon-like Spacconapoli (a pedestrianised street that literally ‘splits Naples’) you’ll discover authentic pizzeria, cafés and shops selling masks, clay nativity scenes and pasta. Historic sites include Castel Nuovo (its ramparts offering views across the Bay of Naples to Mt Vesuvius), the Royal Palace of Palazzo Reale, the San Gennaro Catacombs and the peaceful garden-framed cloister of Santa Chiara. Overnight Naples.

Day 4 Naples

Join your private guide for a tour of Herculaneum, destroyed in the same eruption that sealed the fate of Pompeii. Buried under a deep pyroclastic flow, the buildings and mosaics at Herculaneum were better preserved than those at Pompeii. Walking around the compact grid of streets, you’ll gain a vivid sense of Roman life, abruptly snuffed out nearly two millennia ago. Highlights include the Hall of the Augustales (a meeting place for the emperor’s priests) and the House of Neptune and Amphitrite (with its wine rack, wooden balcony and wall mosaics). In the evening, back in Naples, relax over a traditional Neapolitan meal, such as pizza margherita or spaghetti alle vongole with clams, garlic and olive oil. Overnight Naples.

Join your private guide for a tour of Herculaneum, destroyed in the same eruption that sealed the fate of Pompeii. Buried under a deep pyroclastic flow, the buildings and mosaics at Herculaneum were better preserved than those at Pompeii. Walking around the compact grid of streets, you’ll gain a vivid sense of Roman life, abruptly snuffed out nearly two millennia ago. Highlights include the Hall of the Augustales (a meeting place for the emperor’s priests) and the House of Neptune and Amphitrite (with its wine rack, wooden balcony and wall mosaics). In the evening, back in Naples, relax over a traditional Neapolitan meal, such as pizza margherita or spaghetti alle vongole with clams, garlic and olive oil. Overnight Naples.

Day 5 Naples - Sorrento

Spend the day exploring Mt Vesuvius and Pompeii with your private guide. Walk up to the crater rim of the infamous volcano, enjoying far-reaching views along the coast, then spend time exploring Pompeii. Your guide will explain what happened on that fateful day in AD79. Such was the ferocity of the eruption, it petrified the town under 6m of pumice and ash. Excavated ruins have uncovered everything from cart tracks and carbonised bread to temple remains and – most poignant of all – the human figures of victims cowering under the volcanic onslaught. Both sobering and spellbinding, few places offer a more startling glimpse into life in Roman times nearly 2,000 years ago. After the tour, your guide will transfer you to the beautiful coastal town of Sorrento for a two-night stay.

Spend the day exploring Mt Vesuvius and Pompeii with your private guide. Walk up to the crater rim of the infamous volcano, enjoying far-reaching views along the coast, then spend time exploring Pompeii. Your guide will explain what happened on that fateful day in AD79. Such was the ferocity of the eruption, it petrified the town under 6m of pumice and ash. Excavated ruins have uncovered everything from cart tracks and carbonised bread to temple remains and – most poignant of all – the human figures of victims cowering under the volcanic onslaught. Both sobering and spellbinding, few places offer a more startling glimpse into life in Roman times nearly 2,000 years ago. After the tour, your guide will transfer you to the beautiful coastal town of Sorrento for a two-night stay.

Day 6 Sorrento

Spend the day exploring Sorrento – a compulsory stop on the ‘Grand Tour’ immortalised by the poet Byron. The famous resort hugs plunging cliffs, its fine hotels and villas facing the sparkling expanse of the Bay of Naples. Wander through Piazza Tasso, stopping to enjoy a cup of coffee or an ice-cold limoncello; visit the old town and the cathedral – or alternatively join a cookery class to learn the secrets of authentic Italian cuisine, either privately or in a small group (additional cost). Overnight Sorrento.

Spend the day exploring Sorrento – a compulsory stop on the ‘Grand Tour’ immortalised by the poet Byron. The famous resort hugs plunging cliffs, its fine hotels and villas facing the sparkling expanse of the Bay of Naples. Wander through Piazza Tasso, stopping to enjoy a cup of coffee or an ice-cold limoncello; visit the old town and the cathedral – or alternatively join a cookery class to learn the secrets of authentic Italian cuisine, either privately or in a small group (additional cost). Overnight Sorrento.

Day 7 Sorrento - Positano

Transfer to Positano by car or take an optional boat tour via the Island of Capri, where you will have a private guide to introduce you to this beautiful island. From Roman nobles to celebrities in super yachts, the idyllic island of Capri has long been an irresistible beauty spot.

Arrive at this legendary town, famous for its dramatic, cliffside setting – row upon row of pastel pink and yellow houses seemingly stacked one on top of the other. Steep, narrow streets and stairways lead you to restaurants, cafés, boutiques and galleries. Following three nights in Positano.

Transfer to Positano by car or take an optional boat tour via the Island of Capri, where you will have a private guide to introduce you to this beautiful island. From Roman nobles to celebrities in super yachts, the idyllic island of Capri has long been an irresistible beauty spot.

Arrive at this legendary town, famous for its dramatic, cliffside setting – row upon row of pastel pink and yellow houses seemingly stacked one on top of the other. Steep, narrow streets and stairways lead you to restaurants, cafés, boutiques and galleries. Following three nights in Positano.

Days 8-9 Positano

With two full days to enjoy Positano, you’ll have time for a mixture of sightseeing and relaxing – with an iconic hike thrown in for good measure. In Positano itself, visit the beautiful church of Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta with its majolica-tiled dome and 13th-century Byzantine icon of the Virgin Mary. Positano’s ancient history is revealed in the Museo Archeologico Romano, while the town’s beach – Spiaggia Grande – is a hotspot or celebrities.

On one of your days, we recommend exploring the Amalfi Coast. A coastal road snakes along the mountainside, offering spectacular views of cliffs, hidden beaches and fishing villages. You can travel with a private guide or take a scheduled bus from the main road. Visit fashionable Praiano and the main resort of Amalfi before reaching Ravello, which has the best views along the entire coastline – especially from the gardens of Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo.

You can also stretch your legs on the Amalfi Coast by hiking the Path of the Gods – a rewarding way to appreciate the breathtaking scenery. Walk up the 1,600 steps from Positano to Nocelle to reach the starting point of the hike, or take a local bus or taxi. The trail takes you high into the mountains with glorious views of the Tyrrhenian Sea. When you reach Bomerano, enjoy a well-deserved drink and lunch before heading back (downhill) to Nocelle. Allow 3-5 hours for the round trip. Although there are some steep uphill sections, the hike is suitable for anyone of average fitness. Both nights in Positano.

With two full days to enjoy Positano, you’ll have time for a mixture of sightseeing and relaxing – with an iconic hike thrown in for good measure. In Positano itself, visit the beautiful church of Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta with its majolica-tiled dome and 13th-century Byzantine icon of the Virgin Mary. Positano’s ancient history is revealed in the Museo Archeologico Romano, while the town’s beach – Spiaggia Grande – is a hotspot or celebrities.

On one of your days, we recommend exploring the Amalfi Coast. A coastal road snakes along the mountainside, offering spectacular views of cliffs, hidden beaches and fishing villages. You can travel with a private guide or take a scheduled bus from the main road. Visit fashionable Praiano and the main resort of Amalfi before reaching Ravello, which has the best views along the entire coastline – especially from the gardens of Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo.

You can also stretch your legs on the Amalfi Coast by hiking the Path of the Gods – a rewarding way to appreciate the breathtaking scenery. Walk up the 1,600 steps from Positano to Nocelle to reach the starting point of the hike, or take a local bus or taxi. The trail takes you high into the mountains with glorious views of the Tyrrhenian Sea. When you reach Bomerano, enjoy a well-deserved drink and lunch before heading back (downhill) to Nocelle. Allow 3-5 hours for the round trip. Although there are some steep uphill sections, the hike is suitable for anyone of average fitness. Both nights in Positano.

Day 10 Positano - Matera

A private transfer this morning takes you east through the remote and wild region of Basilicata to the intriguing town of Matera where you spend the following three nights. Perched on the edge of a ravine, Matera has a split personality: the upper, bustling district of Barisano and the lower, ‘silent’ neighbourhood of Sassi, renowned for its cave-dwelling heritage. You will have two full days to explore this extraordinary place, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and declared European Capital of Culture in 2019.

The unique complex of cave dwellings carved into the river canyon at Sassi di Matera was home to people for thousands of years. From as early as the 8th century, monks are thought to have taken refuge here from the Byzantine empire. Chapels were carved out of the rock and many cave dwellings gradually evolved into fine houses and convents. By the mid-1950s, however, poverty led to Sassi’s inhabitants being rehoused and the district fell silent. Some of the dwellings have now been either preserved as museums or renovated as restaurants, hotels and small shops. Overnight Matera.

A private transfer this morning takes you east through the remote and wild region of Basilicata to the intriguing town of Matera where you spend the following three nights. Perched on the edge of a ravine, Matera has a split personality: the upper, bustling district of Barisano and the lower, ‘silent’ neighbourhood of Sassi, renowned for its cave-dwelling heritage. You will have two full days to explore this extraordinary place, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and declared European Capital of Culture in 2019.

The unique complex of cave dwellings carved into the river canyon at Sassi di Matera was home to people for thousands of years. From as early as the 8th century, monks are thought to have taken refuge here from the Byzantine empire. Chapels were carved out of the rock and many cave dwellings gradually evolved into fine houses and convents. By the mid-1950s, however, poverty led to Sassi’s inhabitants being rehoused and the district fell silent. Some of the dwellings have now been either preserved as museums or renovated as restaurants, hotels and small shops. Overnight Matera.

Days 11-12 Matera

On your first full day in Matera, explore the cave settlements of Sasso Caveoso and the Sasso Barisano, where rock-hewn palaces, caves and churches form terraces that act as roofs for the building below. Learn about the history and archaeology of Sassi di Matera’s subterranean world and how people adapted to cave life through the centuries.

Your second day, perhaps visit the Palombaro Lungo, a huge water cistern gouged from the rock in the 16th century directly beneath Piazza Vittorio Veneto. To understand the old way of life in Matera, visit Casa Grotta del Barisano, a preserved cave dwelling that was inhabited until 1960. Both nights in Matera.

On your first full day in Matera, explore the cave settlements of Sasso Caveoso and the Sasso Barisano, where rock-hewn palaces, caves and churches form terraces that act as roofs for the building below. Learn about the history and archaeology of Sassi di Matera’s subterranean world and how people adapted to cave life through the centuries.

Your second day, perhaps visit the Palombaro Lungo, a huge water cistern gouged from the rock in the 16th century directly beneath Piazza Vittorio Veneto. To understand the old way of life in Matera, visit Casa Grotta del Barisano, a preserved cave dwelling that was inhabited until 1960. Both nights in Matera.

Day 13 Matera - Alberobello and Lecce

Join your private guide on a tour of Apulia. Tucked into the heel of Italy, this fascinating region of rocky limestone hills, olive groves, orchards and vineyards is full of surprises. Perhaps the most arresting sight is Alberobello’s swathe of over 1,000 trulli – tiny, conical-roofed houses sprouting from narrow streets like stone toadstools. Passing the wonderful hill-top town of Locorotondo with commanding sweeping views across the Valle d’Itria, you'll arrive in the dazzling ‘White City’ of Ostuni with its whitewashed houses and the labyrinth of narrow streets in Cisternino. At the end of the tour, your guide will transfer you to the city of Lecce where you spend the following two nights.

Join your private guide on a tour of Apulia. Tucked into the heel of Italy, this fascinating region of rocky limestone hills, olive groves, orchards and vineyards is full of surprises. Perhaps the most arresting sight is Alberobello’s swathe of over 1,000 trulli – tiny, conical-roofed houses sprouting from narrow streets like stone toadstools. Passing the wonderful hill-top town of Locorotondo with commanding sweeping views across the Valle d’Itria, you'll arrive in the dazzling ‘White City’ of Ostuni with its whitewashed houses and the labyrinth of narrow streets in Cisternino. At the end of the tour, your guide will transfer you to the city of Lecce where you spend the following two nights.

Day 14 Lecce

Dubbed the ‘Florence of the South, Lecce boasts some fine architecture. Today, you will want to explore the old town centre, admiring the bishop’s palace (Pallazzo Vescovile) and adjacent cathedral (Santa Croce) – adorned with a stunning rose window surrounded by intricately sculpted columns and friezes. Don’t miss the ancient Roman amphitheatre and a chance to sample the famous ice cream and pastries at Gelateria Pasticceria Natale. In the early evening, join local families on the traditional Italian passeggiata, when streets, cafés and bars fill with people enjoying the cool evenings and meeting up with friends. Overnight Lecce.

Dubbed the ‘Florence of the South, Lecce boasts some fine architecture. Today, you will want to explore the old town centre, admiring the bishop’s palace (Pallazzo Vescovile) and adjacent cathedral (Santa Croce) – adorned with a stunning rose window surrounded by intricately sculpted columns and friezes. Don’t miss the ancient Roman amphitheatre and a chance to sample the famous ice cream and pastries at Gelateria Pasticceria Natale. In the early evening, join local families on the traditional Italian passeggiata, when streets, cafés and bars fill with people enjoying the cool evenings and meeting up with friends. Overnight Lecce.

Day 15 Lecce - Bologna

Begin your homeward trip north by taking the train to Bologna. The seven-hour journey is a chance to relax and reflect as you follow the Adriatic coast, passing historic Puglian ports like Bari and Trani. On through the provinces of Abruzzo and Le Marche, still hugging the Adriatic, you pass close to San Marino before heading inland to Bologna. Wander into the city’s historic centre where grand piazzas are flanked by churches and palaces. Overnight Bologna.

Alternatively, fly back to the UK from Bari or Brindisi.

Begin your homeward trip north by taking the train to Bologna. The seven-hour journey is a chance to relax and reflect as you follow the Adriatic coast, passing historic Puglian ports like Bari and Trani. On through the provinces of Abruzzo and Le Marche, still hugging the Adriatic, you pass close to San Marino before heading inland to Bologna. Wander into the city’s historic centre where grand piazzas are flanked by churches and palaces. Overnight Bologna.

Alternatively, fly back to the UK from Bari or Brindisi.

Day 16 Bologna - Zurich

Continuing to Zürich, via Milan, today’s 6.5-hour train journey passes through some of Europe’s most beautiful mountain and lake scenery. In Zurich, stroll along the River Limmat, soaking up the history and culture of the old town, where you will also find an excellent choice of restaurants and bars. Overnight in Zurich.

Continuing to Zürich, via Milan, today’s 6.5-hour train journey passes through some of Europe’s most beautiful mountain and lake scenery. In Zurich, stroll along the River Limmat, soaking up the history and culture of the old town, where you will also find an excellent choice of restaurants and bars. Overnight in Zurich.

Day 17 Zurich - London, via Paris

The rail journey from Zurich to Paris takes just over four hours. Upon arrival in Gare de Lyon take the Paris PER to Gare du Nord where you have time for lunch or an afternoon snack before boarding the Eurostar back to London St Pancras.

The rail journey from Zurich to Paris takes just over four hours. Upon arrival in Gare de Lyon take the Paris PER to Gare du Nord where you have time for lunch or an afternoon snack before boarding the Eurostar back to London St Pancras.

Accommodation Options

We will recommend accommodation for this holiday, but with a vast choice available, we can adapt to suit your personal preference mixing different grades and styles in different cities.

Discuss your options with our Travel Specialists.

Prices and Departures

Price from £3,522 excluding flights

This itinerary is based on rail travel from the UK, so flights are not required.

What's Included

  • Accommodation in rooms with private bathroom
  • Breakfast throughout
  • All rail travel
  • All compulsory seat reservation fees on high-speed and international trains
  • Private tour of Herculaneum
  • Private tour of Mt Vesuvius and Pompeii with a transfer to Sorrento
  • Transfer from Sorrento to Positano
  • Transfer from Positano to Matera
  • Transfer from Matera to Lecce, including a visit to Alberobello and Ostuni
  • 24 hour emergency assistance from our team during your holiday
  • No surcharge guarantee
  • Full financial protection

From prices per person

Based on two sharing a twin room with private facilities and breakfast. Prices may vary depending on departure date. Please contact us for a detailed quote based on your preferred travel dates.

Departure Duration Twin Price Train / Flight
Year Round 16 nights £3,522 Round trip by train
Year Round 14 nights £2,940 Fly back on Day 15 - price excludes flights*

*Please note that flights are not included in the price, but will be quoted at the time of booking.

This itinerary is flexible and the number of nights at each of the overnight stays can be extended or reduced.

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nordic team eric shadbolt bw
One of our specialists
Meet Eric

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