Hearkening back to the golden age of travel, when the point was really the journey and not the destination, the Italian railway company Trenord has created a gourmet itinerary, typical of the regions which its train traverses.
Il Treno dei Sapori (Train of Tastes) carries passengers inside two diesel-electric coaches that have been refurbished to evoke the train-travel experience of the early 1900s. The train travels through northern Italy, setting off from Brescia through Franciacorta and around Lake Iseo, before climbing into Val Camonica and into Edolo.
Against the backdrop of the Italian countryside, up to 75 passengers have the choice of dining in a lounge bar and tasting area, or one of the three dining rooms in the two carriages. Day-long excursions are themed around wine and cheese tastings, pumpkin festivals and wild boar feasts, and continue into October.
The wines served on the train are sourced from Azienda Agricola Il Dosso, located in the municipality of Corte Franca in the province of Brescia. The six hectares of this vineyard are the subject of “almost obsessive care” by the winemaker, Luca Archetti, who claims to “know every single plant.”
Archetti's wines include a red and a white, both called Il Dosso Terre di Franciacorta D.O.C. (the denominazione di origine controllata laws set out geographical limits of wine zones) and a sparkling Zero Archetti Franciacorta V.S.Q. (vino spumante di qualità, or, quality sparkling wine). The red is a blend of cabernet, merlot, barbera, and nebbiolo, whereas the white is 100 percent chardonnay, as is the sparkling.
Meanwhile, perhaps the most evocative and luxurious rail service of all, the Orient Express, operates journeys throughout Europe spanning London to Istanbul. On the British Pullman train in the United Kingdom, a sample menu from the "Golden Age of Travel" is a throwback to dining cars of old. It includes dishes such as a salmon and crayfish parcel with a lemon and mustard dressing, and slow-cooked Rhug Estate organic beef with roasted winter vegetables and dauphinoise potatoes.
Tickets for Il Treno dei Sapori are around €54 ($66).
- AFP with additional reporting by Wine-Searcher staff