This morning, we woke up to the sounds of church bells ringing in Venice as it was a Sunday. The serenity of the streets, the melodious ringing of the bells along with the sounds of waves along the canal makes it one of my best mornings in Europe! There was a small breakfast room at the lobby, though choices of food are limited given the small scale of the establishment. However the food quality was good, which shows that quality trumps quantity any time! I helped myself to toasts and scrambled eggs along with a cup of coffee and some pastries. With a filling breakfast we were recharged and ready to head back to the train station via the vaporetto. However due to our tickets passing the 24 hour mark, we had to purchase new one way tickets. No matter, as the queue was relatively short and there wasn’t much crowds on the vaporetto. On the trip back to the train station, I had more space to take photos as during the arrival, the water bus was really packed for me to move around freely. The second half of the Grand Canal was as spectacular and we also passed through the original Casino di Venezia! Apparently, one of the old Palazzos has been converted to a Casino.
Upon arrival at the train station, we went about finding the platform to board our train to Rome. For Eurail pass holders it should be noted that reservations are mandatory for train rides in Italy, but the Eurostar Italia doesn’t disappoint with its comfortable seating arrangements! We were quite early and thus I had the chance to catch some of the other trains in Venice, including the famous Venice-Simplon Orient-Express luxury train!
One great feature of the Eurostar Italia is the availability of luggage compartments on the ends of each train compartment. This meant there was space to store luggages, however due to the large number of tourists departing Venice, it is best to be early if you want to store larger suitcases since by the time we boarded and stored our suitcases, the space was full and several other tourists boarding the compartment had difficulty storing their suitcases. It was around 80% full for our compartment and thus it was also difficult to get extra space to store one’s suitcase on any empty seats. This could be due to the presence of a tour group from Taiwan who had filled their luggages with shopping bags from Louis Vuitton and Gucci. By the time the train departed there was suitcases blocking part of the walkway which can be quite a bit of a bother for the snack cart service. It should also be noted that Eurostar Italia has seats that face each other, though I wasn’t able to choose seats during the reservations phase.
The service onboard the Eurostar Italia got to be the best ever amongst all the train services in Europe thus far. Choices of snacks from biscottis to sweets as well as soft drinks and juices are provided as compliments for first class cabin passengers. Extra helpings were also permitted. This was served an hour out of Venice, and I got a pack of nice Italian biscotti and a cup of fruit punch. Half an hour after the snack service, the train arrived at Bologna Centrale, before heading again towards Firenze or commonly known as Florence. After the stop at Firenze Santa Maria Novella, there was another round of snack service, though a round of beverages was also offered between Bologna and Firenze. From Firenze, the train seems emptier by a lot as most of the people disembarked, and it was another hour or so before our arrival at Rome.
The segment of the railway journey between Firenze and Rome has some spectacular valley sights as we travel across the region of Tuscany. We could also observe some vineyards and classical Italian villas dotting the landscape. Perhaps this is one reason why people visit Italy for! Our approach to Rome is less spectacular, though we passed by some areas of Roman ruins, signalling our entry into the Eternal City.
This train journey is perhaps my favourite kind of train journey with stylish seats, modern carriages, tasty snacks and rapid service across splendid scenery! I am not sure how budget air travel could compete with such a great service in Italy, and its no wonder Alitalia was bought over.