Orient Express La Dolce Vita: luxury train travel in Italy from 2023

Orient Express, or Orient-Express with a hyphen, has been a byword for luxury and exoticism for 150 years. Now a new venture is (re)introducing the Orient Express to Italy from 2023.

“More than 150 years ago, Georges Nagelmackers turned a dream into a reality when he launched the first luxury Orient Express train”, the Instagram account says. “In association with Arsenale S.p.A., and complete with interior design by Dimorestudio, in 2023 we will welcome passengers aboard the all-new Orient Express La Dolce Vita trains, embodying the Italian art of living and all its beautiful traditions with a contemporary spirit of travel.”

That sounds nice, doesn’t it? But also it doesn’t tell anything firm. 

Orient Express.

The Sweet Life

There’s more of that. “The Orient Express La Dolce Vita routes will welcome passengers starting in 2023 with six trains and several iconic itineraries. Guests will travel in luxury through a leisurely-paced tour from Northern to Southern Italy, across forteen regions, and beyond including three international destinations from Rome to Paris, Istanbul and Split. A magical stopover in Rome will feature the very first Orient Express Hotel, Minerva scheduled to open in 2024.

“La Dolce Vita train offers travellers an extraordinary journey. The concept for the new trains pays tribute to “La Dolce Vita”, a historical period of great eclectic and artistic fervour in Italy during the 1960s. This was an iconic era when Italy enhanced its creativity in the fields of industry, art, entertainment and shared it with the world.”

“La Dolce Vita represents a legendary time. It is symbolic of a dream, a style, a deep-rooted desire, an inspiration many people share, namely a life of well-being, enjoyment and pleasure. It is a tribute to Rome, the ‘Città Eterna‘, the Eternal City, that honours the country’s cinema from Fellini’s famous film (‘La Dolce Vita‘, 1960) to the glamour of Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg and Gina Lollobrigida. It is an ode to Italian seduction, the flavours of Italian cuisine and the artistic competition that has forever been the source of vast imagination. It is the evocation of a unique art of living where a carefree attitude reigns. Travellers will soon have the opportunity to experience the timeless Orient Express La Dolce Vita train that aims to embody the essence of Italian joie de vivre.”

“La Dolce Vita train invites travellers to embark on a journey through the beautiful Italian landscape while celebrating all things meriting the ‘Made in Italy’ stamp. An environmentally-friendly ‘slow tourism’ adventure awaits where forgotten roads are explored, hidden treasures discovered and where architectural triumphs take centre stage.”

This new Orient Express train service marks the beginning of an exciting new frontier in the luxury hospitality market that highlights the beauty and worldwide appeal of Italy. From its warm Mediterranean climate to its stunning coastal towns, mountain villages, beaches, rolling countryside, historic sites, iconic art, and legendary gastronomy – the treasures of Italy never fail to delight.” 

Travelling through Italy from north to south, the Orient Express La Dolce Vita train will crisscross the country via exceptional itineraries to surprise, delight, and transport travellers to the soul of their destinations. It is both a journey into the heart of nature, through its lakes, forests, sumptuous coasts and Alpine mountains and an immersion into the centre of cities that are international hubs of art and culture from Milan to Florence, Venice and Rome.

Trenitalia

In Italy, there will be more than 16,000 km of workable railway lines, 7,000 of which are not electrified and are vestiges of Italy’s storied history. 

“Thanks to a partnership with Trenitalia – Gruppo Ferrovie dello Stato and Fondazione FS Italiane, it will be possible to reach long-forgotten places through these off- the-beaten-track routes and enjoy a new way of experiencing the country.

“Train travel represents the greener choice of transportation, enhancing trips to great cities as well as small-medium sized locations with appealing cultural sites and scenery. La Dolce Vita train will accelerate luxury rail tourism and will appeal to many passengers as a safe and eco-sustainable way of moving that protects the environment and allows them to rediscover the most fascinating places in our regions”, declared Luigi Corradi, CEO and general manager of Trenitalia.

Luigi Cantamessa, general manager of Fondazione FS Italiane, added: “Imagine being able to reach small countries and their vast green spaces via the most fascinating railways in Italy in historical locomotives and the most luxurious carriages. With La Dolce Vita train, now you can.”

Trenitalia’s Red Arrow.

Accor

The Orient Express La Dolce Vita is linked to the Accor hotel group. The website says:

“With support from Accor, La Dolce Vita train’s official hospitality partner, a true commitment to responsible tourism and sustainable development will be demonstrated in part through the refitting of the historic Italian wagons. The use of green and innovative technologies such as hydrogen power will be explored to minimize environmental impact. The ultimate goal: to help shape the future of mobility in a positive and purposeful way.”

The cookie consent web page also refers to Accor. Accor includes brands such as Raffles, Faena, Banyan Tree, Delano, Fairmont, Emblems, SLS, SO Sofitel, Sofitel Legend, Sofitel, Rixos, One Fine Stay, Mantis, M Gallery, 21C Museum Hotel, Art Series, Mondrian, Pullman, Swissôtel, 25h, Angsana, Mövenpick, Grand Mercure, Mercure, The Sebel, Adagio, Adagio Access, Adagio Premium, Mantra, Novotel, Mama Shelter, Tribe, Break Free, Ibis, Ibis Styles, Ibis Budget, Greet, Thalassa, Jo & Joe, Hotel F1 and Huazhu Hotels

Sofitel Bayerpost Munich.

Redesigned

Redesigned Orient Express, rendering by Dimorestudio.

Contrary to Belmond, which run the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (VSOE) with close to completely accurately restored Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits (CIWL) coaches, the Orient Express La Dolce Vita hired Dimorestudio to rethink train luxury.

“The epitome of excellence, the Orient Express La Dolce Vita train embodies the Italian art of living and all its beautiful traditions. Designed by Dimorestudio, the global architectural and design studio founded by Emiliano Salci and Britt Moran in 2003, the train’s sumptuous decor boldly celebrates the craftsmanship, design and creativity of the 1960s and 1970s.”

“From the inspirations of the masters of Italian design including Carlo Scarpa, Gio Ponti, and Ignazio Gardella to the great artists of the Spatialism movement that puts space and time at the centre of its compositions, such as Lucio Fontana, Agostino Bonalumi, and Enrico Castellani, La Dolce Vita train marries the golden age of Italian design with a more contemporary spirit of travel.”

“The design project of Orient Express La Dolce Vita was conceived to embody a flawless and understated balance between historical and contemporary, without losing its authenticity. The spaces are thoughtfully designed and well-curated without being ostentatious and always well-curated. Every element should feel like it has always belonged there, to create a sense of sophisticated depth and visual weights that can be interpreted as layers of exclusiveness. The subtle details complement each other and flow effortlessly”, Britt Moran and Emiliano Salci say.

OELDV does have seven original coaches which are for hire for private functions. 

Press release

There is a press release.

“From the luxury rail tourism project signed by Arsenale S.p.A., now in association with Orient Express of Accor Group, comes the Orient Express La Dolce Vita which will welcome its first passengers in 2023.”

Paolo Barletta, CEO of Arsenale S.p.A explains: “It is a great honour and privilege to work with Orient Express, one of the most prestigious luxury brands in the world. This agreement marks a new stage for our La Dolce Vita trains – a mark of trust and esteem that enrichces the Italian tourist offer. We will take travelers to discover new itineraries, to unique places where they will be able to live a ‘Made In Italy’ experience with a warmth entirely our own. The journey itself becomes the destination and Italy has never been so close and sensational.”

Sébastien Bazin, chairman and CEO Accor, expands: “At Accor, we consider it an immense privilege to re-launch the historic Orient Express brand for passionate and discerning travelers. These trains offer a new vision of luxury travel that is beyond our imagination. Our association with Arsenale Group has opened up new horizons in perfect harmony with the heritage and philosophy of Orient Express, and marks our constant desire to keep moving forward.”

Stephen Alden, CEO Raffles and Orient Express, Accor says: “It is thrilling to be bringing the refined nomadic spirit of Orient Express back to life for a new generation of travellers. The original train route was innovative in the way it paradoxically brought cultures together – the Occident with the Orient, history with modernity. As artisans of travel, we wish to revive this old-world, awe-inspiring ‘journey to elsewhere’ and reconcile certain paradoxes: a journey and a destination, astonishment and inspiration, movement and contemplation. Against the backdrop of breathtaking panoramas and a unique blend of cultures, we are convinced that travelers will have unforgettable experiences in Italy with Orient Express La Dolce Vita.”

On night trains

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