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6 winter destinations in Southern Italy

Rail itinerary for winter 2022

Longing for your next adventure? Let us warm you up this winter by whisking you away to the best destinations in the south of Italy.

 

Explore the southern region by rail, far away from the usual tourist traps of the north, and see some of the most Instagrammable beaches, landmarks and Italian cuisine in La Dolce Vita.

 

Who can resist this exciting itinerary with the Interrail Italy Pass

Ellie Kingswell

Writer @Interrail

Southern Italy by rail itinerary

Your itinerary starts in the coastal city of Bari, easily accessible by train, plane or ferry. 

 

1. Bari 

2. Alberobello 

3. Taranto 

4. Crotone

5. Reggio Calabria

6. Tropea 

 

Note: From Reggio Calabria, you can take a short ferry ride to Sicily to continue your adventures. 

 

italy-bari-puglia-house-street

1. Start your rail trip in Bari

Puglia's capital and largest port is located on the southeastern coast of Italy, facing the Adriatic Sea and opposite Dubrovnik in Croatia. 

 

Take your time to get to know the old town nestled around Bari harbour, and enjoy an evening stroll down the impressive promenade - Lungomare Nazario Sauro. As you meander through the cobbled streets, you will be rewarded with a plethora of ancient buildings and churches - like the Church of San Sabino, Basilica of San Nicola or Castel Svevo (a Norman castle from the 1100s that provides a wonderful view of the city). 

 

Bari is the perfect base to start exploring the southern regions in Italy. Still not convinced?

 

Top 6 reasons to explore Southern Italy in winter: 

 

1. Italians love the holiday season, and there are lots of Christmas markets.

2. It's always sunny, and you can still enjoy lunch al fresco (be sure to wear layers). 

3. It's truffle season

4. Everything is cheaper.

5. You will discover some of the nicest beaches in Europe. 

6. You can enjoy spectacular sunsets with a glass of Fiano di Avellino (the Greeks nicknamed this region "The Land of Wine"). 

 

How to travel from Bari to Alberobello: 2h 6m by bus and regional train

 

italy-bari-harbour-sea-building

2. Alberobello by train

Dreaming of a picture-perfect town? Imagine cute white-washed huts made of drystone walls, with cone-shaped roofs, the smell of smoke billowing out of little chimneys. 

 

The charming town of Alberobello boasts the best-preserved Trulli-style buildings in all of Italy (according to our sources). People come to the enchanting district of Rione Monti to lose themselves in the maze of narrow streets and little shops. You'll be blown away by its beauty, with the highest concentration of around 1,030 houses. 

 

Hoping to find a less commercial corner of town? Head to the Rione Aia Piccola district to find approximately 590 Trulli houses (and the locals still inhabit most of them). Naturally, there are plenty of other sights with rustic charm waiting for you to uncover… 

 

Fun fact: the best photos can be taken on the observation deck next to the church of Santa Lucia.

 

How to travel from Alberobello to Taranto: 1h 25m, with a change in Martina Franca

italy-alberobello-rione-monti-trulli

3. Taranto

Don't overlook this ancient city in the Apulia region of Southern Italy. It was first inhabited by the ancient Greeks as a Spartan colony around 700 BC. You can still find remnants of these cultures and eras throughout the city. Explore the fantastic range of ancient buildings and monuments, and check out the exquisite beaches. 

 

You can't miss the Aragonese Castle! It's situated in the southeast corner of the island of Borgo Antico – the impressive fortress dominates the bay (imagine King's Landing in Game of Thrones). Parts of the castle were built when the Byzantines ruled the region in the 900s. However, most of the main walls that stand today were constructed in the late 1400s by Ferdinand II of Aragon

 

Explore a Byzantine cathedral, the Spartan museum, or walk across Ponte Girevole, an ancient swing bridge built in 1887. 

 

Fun fact: you can find remnants of the Temple of Poseidon still standing next to Palazzo del Comune (town hall).

 

How to travel from Taranto to Crotone: 2 hours by direct intercity train

italy-taranto-drone-shot

4. Crotone

Dreaming of an adventure on (or in) the water? Crotone is nicknamed the Pearl of Magna Grecia. It's also known as the world's largest open-air aquarium! You will find the protected marine reserve of Capo Rizzuto along this section of the Ionian coast. 

 

This area of extraordinary beauty covers 40 km of coastline (or 14,721 hectares), and the sea is a deep turquoise that changes to different shades of blue and green throughout the day. You can see the bottom of the seabed from a glass-bottom boat (or as you snorkel) in these unspoiled waters. Look for groupers, barracudas, little tunnies, and the occasional loggerhead turtle or dolphin. All of the species live undisturbed and are left to reproduce in this peaceful underwater sanctuary

 

Don't forget to check out the city's interesting blend of ancient and modern architecture before you leave. Crotone reveals a whole new splendour as you meander through the streets. 

 

Fun fact: Crotone is a well-hidden treasure, with rolling green hills on one side and the clear blue waters of the Ionian Sea on the other. 

 

How to travel from Crotone to Reggio Calabria: 3h 25m by direct intercity train (once daily), or about 4 hours with a change in Catanzaro Lido

italy-crotone-forst-blue-sea

5. Reggio Calabria

Dreaming of a city break that's away from the crowds? You'll be pleased to hear that most tourists find Calabria a stop too far! This makes for a more authentic holiday, and your money will go further, too. 

 

Reggio Calabria is one of the most impressive city's in Italy's southern region and shares a border with Sicily. You can also find some of the best beaches in the country: the sand is soft, white and luxurious to the touch, and the crystal clear water beckons you in... 

 

Beyond the beautiful beaches, you can stay warm by exploring the many museums, castles and churches. You'll be charmed by the local hospitality, and you won't be able to resist the Calabrian cuisine. The local food is rich and flavourful and perfect for anyone who loves pasta and seafood dishes. 

 

Fun fact: Spanish speakers can usually follow the local Calabrian dialect, but many Italian speakers cannot. 

 

How to travel from Reggio Calabria to Tropea: 1h 23m by direct regional train (once daily), or about 1h 50m with change in Rosarno

italy-reggio-calabria-panorramic-view-sea

6. Tropea

Dreaming of winter sun, the sound of the ocean and sand between your toes? Who could resist the Pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea? 

 

Located on the coast of the Gods and created by Hercules (according to legend), this seaside town is a year-round beach-lover's paradise. You will be captivated by the most beautiful beach in the whole of Italy. Imagine feeling the thick white sand under your feet and paddling in the crystal-clear water (you could take a swim if you're feeling brave).

 

Tropea has it all! Aside from a stunning beach and pristine waters, there’s a charming medieval town perched on top of a sheer cliff. There are impressive walls, gates, turrets and of course, lots of churches. The old town is located on a vantage point that overlooks the sea and faces the spectacular island which houses the Santuario di Santa Maria dell'Isola (Church of St Mary of the Island). 

 

Fun fact: the main cathedral has two unexploded bombs from WWII sitting outside the church door -so keep your distance! 

italy-tropea-sea-panoramic-shot

Italy is waiting for you!  

Take your time to explore this magical region of Italy by rail. From the comfort of the train, enjoy views of the sparkling blue sea on one side and the lush vegetation on the other. Don’t worry too much about punctual timetables! Just enjoy travelling on rustic regional trains as you snake around Italy’s boot and towards the eastern heel. 

italy-salerno-cilentan-coast
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