Every year in Tuscany there’s a special date marked on the calendar for all those who love to travel slowly: it’s the nature train in and around Siena. From spring to autumn, these journeys involve an old steam train (or a vintage locomotive engine) that leaves Siena and chugs as far as the lovely little villages in the Tuscan countryside, where fairs and markets bring the narrow streets to life. Here are all the dates for spring 2015 and on the Terre di Siena website you can already take a quick look at the autumn calendar. We tried this experience for you and would like to share some tips that can help you organize your journey.
1. The nature train is an amazing experience for childrenTrains fascinate children, even more so if they are different from those they are used to seeing. Getting on a steam train is an experience that will enrich their knowledge and that they will remember for a long time. In addition, the steam train reminds them of the one that takes Harry Potter to Hogwarts!
2. Adults will enjoy it tooAdults can have as much fun as kids on the nature train... maybe more! Some people think back to their childhood, like the gentleman that I heard exclaiming: "This train is like the one I caught to go to school!" Others will remember some movie set in the Thirties. The good thing about this train is that it forces you to slow down and take time to look out the window and think while staring at the peaceful Tuscan countryside.
3. Bring something warm with youIn the carriages of the nature train there’s no heating because they already have a few years behind. Plus, there are 10 doors for each coach, so it’s rather draughty. Especially on cold days, make sure you wear comfortable, warm clothes so that you won’t suffer the cold.
4. If you want to sit comfortably... bring a cushion!On the nature train, instead of the plastic or cloth seats you find on today’s more modern trains, there are wooden benches with seats that are... slightly uncomfortable. If you want to be sit comfortably, bring your own cushion.
5. Respect the timetableThe nature train won’t wait for you: arrive with plenty of time at the station (Siena) and do the same at the return station after lunch. Once you arrive at the destination, you’ll have time to enjoy the village and its fair: don’t miss the train back to Siena!
6. You will have time to take picturesAmateur photographers are crazy about the nature train! During the journey the train makes a stop to take some pictures (actually, on some routes, the train makes a stop in order to allow the locomotive to be turned in the right direction!) or you can also shoot through the window of the train to capture the Tuscan countryside.
7. Taste the local foodAs I already mentioned, there is a fair combined with each nature train route and sometimes they are food fairs like the truffle festival in San Giovanni d’Asso and stalls with the pecorino cheese in Asciano. Moreover, the stop is at lunchtime: you can take advantage of the restaurants that serve the delicacies of the Terre di Siena area!
8. Add an activity to your experienceWhen I was in San Giovanni d’Asso, after the lunch break and before the train ride back to Siena, I had a couple of hours of free time. What did I do there? I visited the truffle museum and I took part in a truffle hunt with a bona fide truffle dog. It was great fun and a fantastic way to spend a few hours. You can do the same on the other routes and it’s always a good idea to read something about the place before going so you can have an idea of what to expect.
9. Bring a book with youIs the journey too long for you? If you don’t want to chat to the other passengers, bring a book with you and alternate the landscape with a good book... maybe a book set on a train!
10. Share your experience with the hashtag #TrenoNaturaTerrediSienaThere is a hashtag for your tweets and photos: #TrenoNaturaTerrediSiena. Why not use it to share your experience? For information and reservations: www.ferrovieturistiche.it/en/
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