A Coastal Train Adventure in Southern Italy and Sicily

Sicilian Sunsets A Coastal Train Adventure in Southern Italy

Embark on an all-encompassing exploration of Southern Italy and Sicily from charming home bases. From thriving metropolises to secluded coastlines, this flight-free trip will be a delight.

From the rustic charm of trulli in Puglia to ancient temples in Sicily, southern Italy offers an unforgettable experience for every traveler. Learn about Renaissance art in Florence, 28 centuries of history in Rome and delicious pizza in Naples as you relax among the coasts and mountains of this sun-drenched region.

Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast, or Costiera amalfitana, is one of Italy’s most breathtaking coastal regions. This dazzling UNESCO World Heritage Site showcases an unsurpassed blend of Mediterranean beauty and historic charm with picturesque villages that seem to hover above the sea. The area is home to 13 cities and towns, each with its own unique personality, from the fabled resort town of Positano with its elegant hotels and private villas clinging to steep cliffs to the charming fishing village of Cetara.

A visit to the Amalfi Coast is a feast for the senses, with its vibrant colors creating a mesmerizing canvas that captivates all who witness it. The enchanting scenery is not only an artistic delight, but also a source of spiritual solace and a reminder of the island’s rich cultural heritage.

The dramatic coastline is a popular summer vacation destination with its pristine beaches, fragrant lemon groves and fresh seafood. It’s also a mecca for hikers, with trails winding through lush forests and along ancient Roman pathways. The Amalfi Coast is a destination that must be experienced in person to truly understand its enchantment.

For the best Sicilian sunset views, head to the hilltop villages perched above the rocky cliffs. The village of Amalfi is a must-visit, with its quaint alleys and shops and the impressive Amalfi Cathedral. The “first pearl of the Amalfi Coast,” Vietri sul Mare is another highlight, with its beautiful ceramic work and its houses that seem to be suspended in time.

While it’s possible to experience the Amalfi Coast in a day, we recommend staying at least four nights to really explore its many charms. Spend the first three days in Positano or Amalfi, then add a night in Ravello and perhaps another night in a different village for a complete picture of this memorable part of Southern Italy. Sip an extra Aperol Spritz on the hotel terrace overlooking the soothing ocean, taste that third gelato flavor, and take your time to savor every enticing moment of this memorable part of Italy.


The postcard pretty seaside town of Cefalu is one of Sicily’s most popular destinations – and for good reason. A former fishing port, this picturesque coastal location has a whole host of things to do for tourists, from the historic ruins on the hilltop castle, to the majestic cathedral and stunning beaches. But the real charm of Cefalu lies in its charming old center, or “centro storico.” A walk through this medieval quarter will feel like you’ve traveled back centuries to Sicilian medieval times. The streets are lined with narrow alleyways, dotted with beautiful authentic houses and great restaurants, as well as small Sicilian shops. It’s the perfect place to escape from the tourist throngs and see what lies behind the scenes.

The highlight of any visit to Cefalu is undoubtedly the awe-inspiring Cathedral of Santa Maria e del Carmine (here on Google Maps). The cathedral’s imposing, pyramid-shaped façade, and its apses – adorned with carvings of saints and angels – is arguably the most impressive in the region. It’s also believed to be the oldest catholic church in Sicily. The cathedral’s interior is just as impressive, with a large altarpiece depicting Christ giving the Eucharist to souls in purgatory and a magnificent organ loft.

There are plenty of other attractions and things to do in Cefalu, from the sweeping views of the ocean and the city from the Rocca di Cefalu to the rocky coves that pierce the coastline. The port is a popular spot for water sports, and there are also boat excursions that explore the nearby sea caves.

If you’re looking for some culture, the Parco della Rocca di Cefalu has a number of historical ruins and archaeological excavations. Among the most interesting are the Temple of Diana dating to the 4th century BC, as well as the Romanesque Church of St Anne and the ruins of a wash house that were used by the locals to rinse their clothes.

The best time to visit Cefalu is May-June, when the weather is still warm and sunny but not too hot yet. The best thing about this period is that it’s not as busy as the peak summer months, so you can enjoy the beach and the historic sites without fighting the crowds.


Unlike its sister islands in the Egadi archipelago, Favignana is more lively and offers visitors a variety of things to do. In addition to swimming and snorkeling at its beautiful beaches, it’s also home to some of the best restaurants in the area as well as great hotels. It’s also super easy to reach as it is just a 30 minute boat ride from the port in Trapani, making it one of the best day trips that you can take from here.

People like to liken the shape of Favignana to that of a butterfly, thanks to its two curved arms embracing the sea. Its coastline is an unfinished jigsaw puzzle of alluring coves and sparkling, multitoned water. Inland, its low macchia scrub explodes with heady herbal aromas and is dotted with wildflowers in spring.

The main town of Favignana is lined with a wide array of bars, restaurants, ice cream parlors and rental services as well as supermarkets. It’s also the perfect place to sample some of Sicily’s best seafood dishes, including couscous alla Trapanese (spicy couscous with a rich seafood broth seasoned with cinnamon and bay leaves) and busiate pasta with pistachio pesto. You’ll also want to be sure to try pane cunzatu, a peasant dish that literally means seasoned bread and is made by taking a hunk of crusty local bread, drizzling it with extra virgin olive oil and layering it with mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, salt, pepper and oregano with sardines or anchovies on top.

It’s also worth heading to the Castello di Santa Caterina, which is a centuries old castle that overlooks the harbor and offers some truly incredible views out over the Egadi Islands, Trapani and even Marsala. English guided tours are available, but you can also just visit the garden which is free of charge and is filled with countless exotic plants that nobody ever believed could grow in such an unforgiving climate.

The waters that lap Favignana are part of the Marine Protected Area of the Egadi Islands and are home to a huge number of protected or vulnerable species. The rich fauna includes sperm whales, monk seals, dolphins and a myriad of fish, including bluefin tuna.


The most dramatic of the Aeolian Islands, Stromboli is a constantly active volcano that rises massively from the sea. It’s a mesmerising sight and draws visitors from the other islands and mainland Sicily for day trips. The island is home to a few small settlements, including the main port of Stromboli, and attracts day-trippers as well as celebrities (former Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and fashion designers Dolce and Gabbana own villas here).

Summer is the best time of year to see Stromboli in all its volcanic glory, as you can lie on the beaches, swim, and take boat trip excursions to witness the lava show. Sicily in the summer is often uncomfortably hot, but the Aeolian Islands are a few degrees cooler than the mainland.

Your first afternoon on the island should be devoted to enjoying Stromboli’s stunning beaches, most of which are made of shimmering black sand and are backed by rugged cliffs. Those with energy to burn can hike up to the crater viewpoint at L’Osservatorio, which overlooks the Sciara del Fuoco, but you must be properly equipped and accompanied by an expert guide for this option.

If hiking is not for you, a visit to Stromboli is still worth it for the nighttime lava shows. Every evening, giant plumes of red molten rock shoot across the dark sky. This is a spectacular, almost hypnotic spectacle, and the only way to experience it is to climb to the top of Stromboli at sunset, before the lava-spewing action begins.

As dusk falls, scores of people assemble by the church in the square out front of San Vincenzo and don their walking gear to be led up to the crater viewpoint at L’Osservatorio for an up close and personal look at the fiery eruptions. If you’re not able to hike, a sunset cruise is another memorable way to see the spectacle of Stromboli at play.

If you want to stay on the island, only residents can drive motorised vehicles here and there are no buses, but a few electric taxis will whisk you from one end of the town to the other at modest rates. The scarcity of cars is actually quite pleasant, allowing you to enjoy the sense of isolation that the Aeolian Islands are known for.

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