Of Corsica And Sardinia
OCTOBER 1-17, 2023
Think of the Douro Valley in Portugal—though here in Sardinia the narrow-gauge lines are longer and the best sections are still open for tourist trains and charters.
Our tour of Sardinia gives you the chance to travel over every open railway line on the island, both standard and narrow gauge, and includes the two tramway systems.
Corsica, the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean is also called “The island of beauty”; a veritable mountain in the sea and an island of strong character. Just look at the wild and rugged natural environment and the island’s tumultuous history. We start our tour in Pisa and tour the sights before traveling to Corsica and its narrow-gauge lines.
Day 1 Sunday October 1: (D)
Arrive in the Italian city of Pisa and transfer yourself to the hotel for check-in. Welcome dinner.
Day 2 Monday October 2: (B)
Pisa straddles the River Arno just before it empties into the Tyrrhenian Sea. Although known worldwide for its Leaning Tower, the city of over 90,000 residents contains more than 20 other historic churches, several medieval palaces and various bridges across the River Arno. Much of the city’s architecture was financed from its history as one of the Italian maritime republics. We have a guided tour of the main sites in the morning leaving the afternoon free for your own exploration.
Day 3 Tuesday October 3: (B)
We travel by charter bus to Livorno where we board a Corsica ferry for the four hour crossing from Livorno to Bastia and hotel check-in.
Day 4 Wednesday October 4: (B)
Bastia is the principal port of the island and the city center is mainly composed of the “Citadelle”, the stronghold, also called Terra-Nova, the Genoese Governor’s Palace, the old port and its popular quarter and the market plaza. In the morning we have a guided tour. The afternoon is free.
Day 5 Thursday October 5: (B)
Today we travel by train to Calvi, so covering the upper branch of the Corsica railway. From Ponte Leccia the train goes up a dry and uninhabited valley but soon we have a view of the sea in the distance and before long we are traveling alongside the sea stopping at seaside villages. In Calvi we have a guided tour of the city, built on a promontory in a beautiful bay. We have time for a lunch break before taking our charter bus back to Bastia through the Balagna which is considered to be the most pleasant region of the island.
Day 6 Friday October 6: (B)
Today we travel by service train from Bastia to Ajaccio, the Corsican capital city. The train crosses the island, winding round the mountains, crossing some superb bridges and passing through magnificent forest before reaching the tropical atmosphere of the Gulf of Ajaccio, one of the most beautiful locations in Corsica. Leaving Bastia at 8.55am we arrive in Ajaccio in time for lunch and a free afternoon exploring this pretty town.
SOME OF THE FREIGHT EQUIPMENT IN CORSICA
Day 7 Saturday October 7: (B)
We transfer by coach to Bonifacio stopping in Sartene for a short visit. Time to visit Bonifacio old town built on a promontory of white rocks. We board the 5:00pm ferry for the one hour crossing of the Bocche di Bonifacio strait to Santa Teresa di Gallura on Sardinia. Coach transfer to our hotel in Palau and check-in.
Day 8 Sunday October 8: (B-D)
A free day to relax by the sea or to enjoy any of the various natural attractions around Palau such as La Maddalena or Capo d’Orso.
Day 9 Monday October 9: (B)
The coast in the vicinity of Palau is famous for its bizarre weather-beaten rocks, some of which we will see from our narrow gauge loco-hauled vintage train over the line from Palau to Tempio Pausania. Lunch by the Nuraghe Majori after which we have a guided tour of this, the most important and well-known nuraghe in Gallura. Night in Sassari at the Hotel Vittorio Emanuele located in the heart of the city.
THE COLORFUL TRAINS OF SARDINIA
Day 10 Tuesday October 10: (B)
There are options today. Enthusiast option: Visit the Sassari workshop. Free time to ride the Sassari tram system end-to-end and after lunch travel the lines to Porto Torres Marittima and the Sassari to Sorso narrow-gauge branch. Cultural Option: Our bus and a professional guide will take us to Santissima Trinità di Sarcargia, the most important Romanesque site on the island and dating from 1116. We return to Sassari and have a 2-hour guided city tour. Free time for lunch. In the afternoon the whole group travels by rail along the branch line to Alghero, a pretty city on the seaside. We stay at Hotel Alma di Alghero for two nights.
Day 11 Wednesday October 11: (B)
A free day to relax by the sea or to visit Alghero old town and its natural attractions such as the Grotta di Nettuno.
Day 12 Thursday October 12: (B)
Transfer by road southwards along the spectacular coastal road to Bosa Marina, dominated by an imposing medieval castle, where we board another loco-hauled narrow-gauge train to Sindia and then by bus to Macomer, a junction with both the FS standard gauge railway and another FdS narrow gauge line to Nuoro, the largest city in the interior of the island. Our train consists of diesel loco type LDe in brown livery with a parcels coach and a beautifully restored “bauchiero” coach dating from 1913 made from varnished wood. The journey starts virtually “on the level” along the coast for a while and then twists and turns for a considerable distance to gain height, still giving splendid views of the coast. Lunch will be in a local restaurant in Macomer. Then we board a charter train train to Nuoro where our bus will take us to Arbatax, stopping to visit the Arbatax Red Rocks before going to the Hotel La Bitta for our overnight stay.
Day 13 Friday October 13: (B-L)
Some of the old railway line from Arbatax to Mandas has unfortunately been abandoned. But during the summer months a train operates on the most spectacular section from Arbatax to Gairo (we will travel on another section tomorrow). We will have lunch at Turri and a guided tour in Giara Park, the realm of the last wild horses in Europe. We return to Arbatax for a second night at the Hotel La Bitta.
Day 14 Saturday October 14: (B)
Today we are able to ride on another fine section of the Arbatax to Mandas line. The line from Gairo to Seui is abandoned (due to major rock slides and unsafe bridges) but we can still ride from Seui to the junction station at Mandas. Our tour bus takes us onwards to Cagliari where overnight accommodation for the next three nights is in the 4 star Hotel Regina Margherita. Cagliari has been the capital city of Sardinia for over 2,000 years; today, it has a still-busy, working port and a large student population, grand boulevards, neo-Gothic palaces and art-nouveau cafés.
Day 15 Sunday October 15: (B-D)
There are two railway museums in Cagliari, the FdS and FS, but the FdS (narrow gauge) museum is closed to the public due to serious damage. We therefore start today with a visit to the FS (or standard gauge) museum and afterwards ride the FS lines in the area, using service trains Cagliari – Carbonia – Villamassargia – Iglesias – Cagliari. We arrive back at Cagliari station in time to join the guided city tour. The Culture group in the morning will visit the archaeological site of Nora, 25 miles from Cagliari. Nora is an ancient Roman town located on a peninsula and the ruins function as an open-air museum with mosaics and the remains of the amphitheater and several buildings. We return to Cagliari for lunch and then a guided tour of the old city with a professional local guide.
Day 16 Monday October 16: (B-L)
After breakfast, our bus takes us to Mandas where we board a diesel loco hauled train. We take the old narrow-gauge line which used to stretch as far north as Sorgono. Nowadays we can only go as far as Laconi as beyond there the line is completely abandoned. We have time to enjoy lunch so we have arranged a full rural meal with the typical local dishes at Laconi. We return on our train to Mandas, take our bus to Dolianova from where we take a service train to Cagliari Montserrato then our bus to the hotel. Enthusiasts have the option to ride the new tram system on their own.
Day 17 Tuesday October 17: (B)
We take the FS service train from Cagliari to Golfo Aranci, a four hour ride from the south to the north of the island, then take the tour bus from Golfo Aranci to Olbia airport for the evening flights back home.
ALL PRICES ARE PER PERSON
DOUBLE ROOM OCCUPANCY$3,995
SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT$895
DEPOSIT TO HOLD SPACE$1,000
FINAL PAYMENT DUE BY JULY 1, 2023
TOUR CONDITIONS **PLEASE READ CAREFULLY**
Tour Price: All tour prices are subject to change without notice, at any time. All prices based on double room occupancy. Those people that use a credit card for payments a 3% conveyance fee will be added to the tour price. We reserve the right to change tour prices if necessary without prior notice.