A Grand Return to Italy With La Dolce Vita Train

December 2021

Dream / Travel

150 years ago, Georges Nagelmackers turned a dream into a reality when he launched the first luxury Orient Express train.

Soon, Orient Express will head back on track to offer travellers an unforgettable journey through one of the world’s most beloved countries: Italy.

The Orient Express La Dolce Vita routes will welcome passengers starting in 2023 with 6 trains and several iconic itineraries. Guests will travel in luxury through a leisurely-paced tour from Northern to Southern Italy, across 14 regions, and beyond including 3 international destinations from Rome to Paris, Istanbul and Split. A magical stopover in Rome will feature the very first Orient Express Hotel, Minerva scheduled to open in 2024.

La Dolce Vita: A love affair with Italy

La Dolce Vita train offers travellers an extraordinary journey. The concept for the new trains pays tribute to “La Dolce Vita”, a historical period of great eclectic and artistic fervour in Italy during the 1960s. This was an iconic era when Italy enhanced its creativity in the fields of industry, art, entertainment and shared it with the world.

La Dolce Vita represents a legendary time. It is symbolic of a dream, a style, a deep-rooted desire, an inspiration many people share, namely a life of well-being, enjoyment and pleasure. It is a tribute to Rome, the «Città Eterna», the Eternal City, that honours the country’s cinema from Fellini’s famous film (“La Dolce Vita,” 1960) to the glamour of Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg and Gina Lollobrigida. It is an ode to Italian seduction, the flavours of Italian cuisine and the artistic competition that has forever been the source of vast imagination. It is the evocation of a unique art of living where a carefree attitude reigns. Travellers will soon have the opportunity to experience the timeless Orient Express La Dolce Vita train that aims to embody the essence of Italian joie de vivre.

© Photo by Marcello Geppetti

Discover the wonders of Italy

La Dolce Vita train invites travellers to embark on a journey through the beautiful Italian landscape while celebrating all things meriting the ‘Made in Italy’ stamp. An environmentally- friendly “slow tourism” adventure awaits where forgotten roads are explored, hidden treasures discovered and where architectural triumphs take centre stage. This new Orient Express train service marks the beginning of an exciting new frontier in the luxury hospitality market that highlights the beauty and worldwide appeal of Italy. From its warm Mediterranean climate to its stunning coastal towns, mountain villages, beaches, rolling countryside, historic sites, iconic art, and legendary gastronomy – the treasures of Italy never fail to delight. Travelling through Italy from north to south, the Orient Express La Dolce Vita train will crisscross the country via exceptional itineraries to surprise, delight, and transport travellers to the soul of their destinations. It is both a journey into the heart of nature, through its lakes, forests, sumptuous coasts and Alpine mountains and an immersion into the centre of cities that are international hubs of art and culture from Milan to Florence, Venice and Rome.

Connections to Legendary Cities

Reminiscent of the Golden Age of the Orient Express and its legendary route, La Dolce Vita train will connect the cities of Rome to Paris, Istanbul and Split. It is an invitation for bold adventurers to experience fascinating destinations and foreign cultural experiences.

Luxurious Travel by Dimorestudio

The epitome of excellence, the Orient Express La Dolce Vita train embodies the Italian art of living and all its beautiful traditions. Designed by Dimorestudio, the global architectural and design studio founded by Emiliano Salci and Britt Moran in 2003, the train’s sumptuous decor boldly celebrates the craftsmanship, design and creativity of the 1960s and 1970s.

From the inspirations of the masters of Italian design including Carlo Scarpa, Gio Ponti, and Ignazio Gardella to the great artists of the Spatialism movement that puts space and time at the centre of its compositions, such as Lucio Fontana, Agostino Bonalumi, and Enrico Castellani, La Dolce Vita train marries the golden age of Italian design with a more contemporary spirit of travel.

The design project of Orient Express La Dolce Vita was conceived to embody a flawless and understated balance between historical and contemporary, without losing its authenticity. The spaces are thoughtfully designed and well-curated without being ostentatious and always well-curated. Every element should feel like it has always belonged there, to create a sense of sophisticated depth and visual weights that can be interpreted as layers of exclusiveness. The subtle details complement each other and flow effortlessly.” – Britt Moran and Emiliano Salci.

© Orient Express La Dolce Vita renderings by Dimorestudio

Railways and Hospitality: A Sustainable Way to Travel

In Italy, there will be more than 16,000 km of workable railway lines, 7,000 of which are not electrified and are vestiges of Italy’s storied history. Thanks to a partnership with Trenitalia – Gruppo Ferrovie dello Stato and Fondazione FS Italiane, it will be possible to reach long-forgotten places through these off- the-beaten-track routes and enjoy a new way of experiencing the country.

Train travel represents the greener choice of transportation, enhancing trips to great cities as well as small-medium sized locations with appealing cultural sites and scenery. La Dolce Vita train will accelerate luxury rail tourism and will appeal to many passengers as a safe and eco-sustainable way of moving that protects the environment and allows them to rediscover the most fascinating places in our regions.” declared Luigi Corradi, CEO and General Manager of Trenitalia.

Luigi Cantamessa, General Manager of Fondazione FS Italiane, added: “Imagine being able to reach small countries and their vast green spaces via the most fascinating railways in Italy in historical locomotives and the most luxurious carriages. With La Dolce Vita train, now you can.”

With support from Accor, La Dolce Vita train’s official hospitality partner, a true commitment to responsible tourism and sustainable development will be demonstrated in part through the refitting of the historic Italian wagons. The use of green and innovative technologies such as hydrogen power will be explored to minimize environmental impact. The ultimate goal: to help shape the future of mobility in a positive and purposeful way.

Complementing this focus on sustainability, the country has also spearheaded the slow-travel movement, encouraging more sustainable and authentic experiences, and the ‘Made in Italy’ campaign, providing access to the best products from each region.

The Orient Express Executive Lounge at Roma Termini

At Rome Termini station, the centre of every route for the Orient Express La Dolce Vita train, a historical building owned by Fondazione FS will be completely refurbished. There, guests will enjoy a warm welcome and refreshments while awaiting their journeys in a convivial and elegant space, complete with dedicated services and staff to assist them.

5 Star Service

The elegant simplicity of Italian design and eclectic delicacies converge in the haute cuisine aboard Orient Express La Dolce Vita train. In collaboration with renowned local and international chefs and bartenders, travellers will experience award-winning Italian wines and exclusive recipes prepared by starred master chefs. On-board services will include fine dining, entertainment and a lounge bar, trained staff dedicated to providing the highest standards of luxury, reserved routes, and offers created “ad hoc” with exclusive locations and additional options: including ground services and key contacts in the territory, plus an integrated supply chain on and near the rails.

The Itineraries

Itineraries are designed to provide a highly emotional travel experience, appealing to all five senses. Most itineraries will be in Italy, where the Alps, bucolic hillside landscapes and paradise beaches of the South will take centre stage. In addition, three dedicated itineraries will connect Italy to Paris, Istanbul and Split, travelling across eight countries. This blend of different cultures is a part of a unique journey that will pass through beautiful and mysterious Venice to the romantic City of Lights and down to the ancient splendour of Split. Romance, adventure, and relaxation will come together in a single journey with reserved routes and onshore services in exclusive locations. Guests can spend between one and three nights in complete comfort in luxurious settings.

North, Centre and South

The North

Discover the diverse landscapes, culture, arts, and history of Italy’s northern regions, from the Italian Lake district to the Dolomites, and the Veneto. A cosy and luxurious journey exploring the secret marvels of Venice, the enchanting region of Langhe, and the unique beauty of the court of the Gonzaga’s in Mantova. The route includes remarkable mountain landscapes along the Vie del Barbaresco and Alba, where in November travellers will experience the first truffles and wine of the season or the snowing peaks of the Alps in Cortina. The varied regions landscape, rich history, and plethora of fine cities, offer something for any taste.

 

The Centre

An ode to slow travel and Italian lifestyle, guests will enjoy an unforgettable round trip through some of Italy’s finest landscapes. From Rome to the court of the Farnese family through the enchanted gardens of Ninfa and the romantic hills of Umbria. On the winding road up to Montalcino, the endless vineyards, olive orchards, and rolling hills dotted in red poppies will offer guests an immersion into beauty. Itineraries along the artistic treasures of Tuscany from Siena to Florence will invite travellers to experience a never-ending sense of awe and inspiration at every turn.

 

The South

A great emphasis will be placed on the Southern territories. In Sicily, the trip that winds along the west coast of the island along the Palermo-Trapani railway line, where history, flavour, and culture come together. On the island there will be an oenological itinerary designed to discover Sicilian wineries and beaches. The end of the trip will give travellers an opportunity to admire the beauty of Sicilian Baroque, with a stop in fascinating Syracuse, and the marvelous Mount Etna. The route climbs the “Bel Paese” to reach the Salento stretch along the Ionian coast, between the landscapes of baroque Lecce up to Matera and its signature stones. Dedicated itineraries will journey up to Campania to see the picturesque Naples, Pompei and Paestum. The South of Italy is a winning combination of three unique elements: the immense artistic and historic heritage, the best food in the world, and beautiful coastlines, all blended together in one of the most sought-after places to visit in the world.

Europe

Between Paris and Rome

A romantic journey to Paris through the Riviera. Following part of the historical route of the famous Rome-Express – a train launched by Georges Nagelmackers in 1883 and linking England to Italy via the Riviera – the Rome-Paris train kicks off with a rendezvous in the City of Lights. On the way back, the train heads to Rome and the future Orient Express Hotel, Minerva via Nice and the South of France along the French and Italian coasts.

 

Towards the Orient

Between the West and the East, from the splendours of Rome to awe-inspiring Venice, to sublime Istanbul. This unique journey celebrates cities of art and culture. The dreamy voyage begins in Rome, the perfect embodiment of La Dolce Vita, where travellers embark for beautiful Venice, in search of secret churches and palaces. Along the historic route of the Orient-Express, this train leads straight to Istanbul, a mythical and mysterious destination.

 

Rome-Venice-Split

A trip along the coastline, from Venice to Trieste, along the Dalmatian coast to Split. After admiring the beauty of the City of the Doges, La Dolce Vita train reaches Trieste and follows a portion of the historic Orient Express route. The journey continues along the Dalmatian coast, where passengers can gaze upon the seaside and islands of Croatia. Finally, the train arrives in style in Split, a city known for its fine art and culture.

Rome and the First Orient Express Hotel

The Orient Express La Dolce Vita train offers travellers the opportunity to share in the legend and the art of living of Orient Express. Guests are invited on a unique journey that follows the path of the mythical routes of the former Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits, having the chance to discover the first Orient Express hotel in Rome.

 

Rome, a Historic Stopover

In 1883, Georges Nagelmackers connected France to Italy for the first time. Thanks to the Rome-Express train (originally Calais-Nice-Rome), the world passionately discovered the history of ancient Rome and its wonders. The Italian capital became one of the most popular stopovers in the world. A beloved capital at the heart of Orient Express’ legendary history, Rome will be home to the revitalised brand’s first hotel: Orient Express Hotel, Minerva, opening in 2024. The city will also see the inauguration of an Orient Express exclusive private terminal in Rome Termini station, which will welcome travellers from all the corners of Italy and some European destinations, as far as the gates of the Orient.

 

The Orient Express Hotel, Minerva, The Soul of Travel

In the heart of Rome’s historic centre, in the Pantheon district, the first Orient Express hotel has a prestigious address: the Piazza de la Minerva. Alongside the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Orient Express chose the former Palazzo Fonseca, a 17th century palace, as its first hotel to celebrate Orient Express’ vast history and expertise in the art of living.

Behind its 17th century facade, this historic hotel with its lobby adorned with Roman columns and sculptures signed by Rinaldo Rinaldi, a disciple of Canova, is topped by a panoramic terrace where travellers can admire the dome of the Pantheon, the Sant’Ivo dome or the roof of the Quirinal. A stopover on the “Grand Tour” that took aristocratic youth, art lovers, collectors, churchmen and intellectuals across Europe, the hotel welcomed many notables figures over the years such as writer Herman Melville, an adventurer and globetrotter. Stendhal stayed there for a few months, a trip that inspired him to write his Roman Walks. George Sand also fell in love with Italy and spent a lot of time there in 1855. Later, the writer Thomas Bernhard stayed at the location with Murau, the character of his novel, Extinction.

 

About the Orient Express La Dolce Vita Train

Born from an association between Arsenale and Accor, the Orient Express La Dolce Vita trains will offer a luxury travel experience like no other where the journey becomes the destination. The train will offer multiple itineraries throughout Italy and the great capitals of the European continent and all the way to the gates of the Orient. This project confirms Arsenale’s development strategy. In addition to enhancing the value of prestigious Italian assets in the luxury sector alongside the largest international brands, the group integrates its capacity to create new cutting-edge hospitality at the highest level, ready to face the challenges in the tourism market of the near future.

 

Paolo Barletta, CEO of Arsenale S.p.A, explains: “It is a great honour and privilege to work with Orient Express, one of the most prestigious luxury brands in the world. This agreement marks a new stage for our La Dolce Vita trains – a mark of trust and esteem that enrichces the Italian tourist offer. We will take travelers to discover new itineraries, to unique places where they will be able to live a ‘Made In Italy’ experience with a warmth entirely our own. The journey itself becomes the destination and Italy has never been so close and sensational.

 

Sébastien Bazin, Chairman & CEO Accor, expresses: “At Accor, we consider it an immense privilege to re-launch the historic Orient Express brand for passionate and discerning travelers. These trains offer a new vision of luxury travel that is beyond our imagination. Our association with Arsenale Group has opened up new horizons in perfect harmony with the heritage and philosophy of Orient Express, and marks our constant desire to keep moving forward.”

 

Stephen Alden, CEO Raffles and Orient Express, Accor says: “It is thrilling to be bringing the refined nomadic spirit of Orient Express back to life for a new generation of travellers. The original train route was innovative in the way it paradoxically brought cultures together – the Occident with the Orient, history with modernity. As artisans of travel, we wish to revive this old-world, awe-inspiring ‘journey to elsewhere’ and reconcile certain paradoxes: a journey and a destination, astonishment and inspiration, movement and contemplation. Against the backdrop of breathtaking panoramas and a unique blend of cultures, we are convinced that travelers will have unforgettable experiences in Italy with Orient Express La Dolce Vita.

From left to right: Paolo Barletta, Sébastien Bazin, Stephen Alden

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