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Even if the 2023 summer tourist season has been somehow penalised by high prices, Italy nonetheless remains an extremely popular destination with international visitors, with a growing number of tourists travelling by train.
Italy is the most beautiful country in the world, and this is certified by the number of UNESCO World Heritage sites, which has no equal. Our beautiful landscapes, history, culture, and food and wine make Italy a favourite destination with tourists from all over the world, and this summer 2023 was forecast to be a record season for Italian tourism. The definitive figures are not in yet, but those expectations have been at least partially downsized by spiralling prices, as a result of which many Italians were unable to take a summer holiday, or chose less expensive destinations.
Record-breaking season or not, however, Italy certainly remains a popular destination, as demonstrated by the data of the Italian Observatory on Domestic and International Tourism Flows, presented in Venice on September 1st. These data show that Italy is the fourth most popular destination for European tourists, who invested 12% of total tourism-related spending in our Country. July saw the highest growth in spending on hotels in Italy, exceeding even the totals for Spain and the UK. The largest numbers of foreign visitors to Italy come from Germany, Switzerland, USA, UK and the Netherlands, and travellers are increasingly choosing to travel around by train.
The train is one of the most popular means of transport in Italy
Trains are an increasingly popular choice for travelling across Italy, because of the fast, convenient, widespread rail network that combines efficiency and sustainability, and is often a more affordable option than others.
In the first five months of 2023 alone, Trenitalia transported 24% more passengers than in 2022.
Summer brought an impressive 75 million tourists onto the trains of the Italian state rail network. More than half of this figure was recorded in August, with a rise of 15% compared to August 2022. This result is a reward for the efforts made by Trenitalia to guarantee fast, convenient rail links to reach holiday destinations.
This return to rail travel also regards younger travellers, with 3.5 million under-15s travelling on Frecciarossa, Intercity and Regional trains, also thanks to the promotional offers aimed at families. One of the services that has proved most popular is the Family Area, which can be found on Intercity trains: a carriage for the whole family, where kids can enjoy dedicated entertainment during the journey, making it part of the holiday experience, rather than just a means of transport to their destination.
This philosophy is shared by True Italian Experience, the digital tourism hub of which Trenitalia is the main partner, and which promotes gentle, sustainable experiential tourism.
The summer’s most popular Italian destinations
For trips lasting more than five days, Italian seaside and mountain locations proved most popular in 2023, with Trentino Alto Adige, Veneto and Liguria the Italian regions that registered the most significant increases in visitors, compared to 2022.
A positive trend compared to 2022 was also recorded in Campania, Puglia and Emilia-Romagna, with Rimini topping the list of seaside destinations, especially for family holidays.
Major tourist flows were also registered in areas renowned for their natural beauty, such as the Dolomites, Lake Garda and the Langhe wine region, while the top three destinations Italian for city holidays remain Rome, Naples and Florence.
The main Italian cities reached by train by the highest number of travellers were Rome, Milan, Naples, Turin and Bologna, with the Apulian cities of Bari and Lecce among the most popular in Southern Italy.