Riding the Foliage Train from Piedmont to Switzerland

| Thu, 09/24/2020 - 00:00
The Foliage Train riding amid fall colors and woods

A train ride on a historic route amid mountains, villages and the fall colors: it’s the so-called ‘Foliage Train,’ which runs along a line that, since 1923, has connected Piedmont in northern Italy with Switzerland. 

The Foliage Train itinerary is 52 km long, crosses 83 bridges and 31 tunnels in just under two hours with spectacular views. It runs October 17 to November 15, 2020, when the foliage in the area is at its peak. Lonely Planet has described this train route as the most scenic in Italy. 

The historic railway is also known as the ‘Centovalli’ (100 valleys) because of the many valleys that the train passes by during its ride. It winds its way through fascinating landscapes of dense forests, mountains and green valleys, deep gorges carved by streams, waterfalls. You can admire all this natural beauty thanks to the train’s large panoramic windows.

The ride begins at Domodossola in Piedmont and ends in Locarno, Switzerland (you can also take it in the opposite direction). 

The train ticket is valid for one or two days and includes a return trip, with the possibility to make an intermediate stop on the outbound or return journey, so you can visit one of the beautiful places that dot the railway route, such as Domodossola itself, with its Piazza Mercato and historic buildings, or Locarno, a delightful Swiss town overlooking Lake Maggiore with a beautiful historic center and an elegant lakefront.

There are also interesting destinations along the way, such as the Sanctuary della Madonna del Sangue, dedicated to the Virgin Mary and built on the site where a miracle is said to have occurred, or Santa Maria Maggiore, considered one of the most beautiful villages (borghi) in Italy. 

New as of 2020, the train ticket includes (for each adult passenger) a voucher of 5 Swiss francs to collect a gift at the small local market that takes place every day from 10 am to 5 pm at the Locarno train station.

Given the usually high turnout and the limitations on the number of seats available, advance reservation is required. Visit the dedicated website.