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Experience La Dolce Vita on the Orient Express: Journey to the Italian Riviera

Experience La Dolce Vita on the Orient Express: Journey to the Italian Riviera
COURTESY BELMOND

Guests will be pampered in vintage style but at a steep price.

(CNN) –Goodbye London; hello Italian Riviera.

Straight on the heels of Europe’s most iconic train route striking the UK capital from its list of destinations, the “Orient Express” has scheduled a trip to the Ligurian coastline for summer 2024.

The train – whose full mouthful of a name is the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, A Belmond Train, Europe – will pootle from Paris to Portofino across two days in June. In November, the company stopped running its British Pullman service which linked the Paris-Venice route to London.

Despite the name, this new route won’t go anywhere near Venice. The VSOE, as it’s known, will start in Paris at 3 p.m., wind through France past Dijon, Lyon, and Avignon, and then trundle along the Côte d’Azur, before crossing into Italy.

The end of the tracks will be in Santa Margherita Ligure, the gateway town to Portofino at 1 p.m. the following day. Guests will be transferred to Portofino and check in for two nights at the famous Splendido hotel – full name Splendido, A Belmond Hotel, Portofino.

After all that, it’ll be a jolt back into real life, because the train tickets are one-way. If you want to return on the rails, it’ll be a crowded regionale train back up to Genoa and Milan, before continuing back to Paris on the swish high-speed Frecciarossa.

Prices start from around $8,525 per person for the three nights, but this being Belmond, passengers will get a lot of swank for their buck. Menus are planned by Michelin-starred chef Jean Imbert, and any imbibing will be accompanied by either the resident pianist or a swing band in the evening.

For those wanting to really push the boat (or train) out, there are eight new suites onboard that debuted in 2023.

Leave your heart (and wallet) in Portofino

Meanwhile, at the Splendido – a 16th-century monastery overlooking Portofino’s famous harbor, complete with newly renovated rooms and a saltwater pool – guests will get a five-course tasting menu by Imbert (who’ll be there in person), followed by cocktails, on Friday night. On Saturday, they’ll get a private outdoor film screening on Portofino’s famous Piazzetta.

It’ll be the first time that the train has visited the Italian Riviera, but it won’t be the last. It’s planned to be an annual event, with 2025 dates to be confirmed.

For the rest of us, the trip can be replicated, with slightly less glamor, by taking the Frecciarossa from Paris to Milan, and then an Intercity to Santa Margherita Ligure. The Splendido is closed for the season until June 8, when the cheapest room will cost $3,124 per night. A midweek stay at the end of September, before its closure, is slightly more affordable at $1,927 per night. Meanwhile, the three-star Hotel Nazionale has doubles from $272, or from $437 with a sea view. For those not on a Portofino budget, it’s best to stay in Santa Margherita Ligure.

2024 will also see the debut of the Orient Express La Dolce Vita train in Italy – no relation to the Belmond’s, but a separate venture from Accor.

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Julia Buckley, Cnn