Wake up in the Dolomites on board Italy’s new sleeper train

From Pantheon to piste, Italy’s new state-run sleeper train, Espresso Cadore, connects Rome to the Italian Alps.

Sleeper trains are back in vogue, and they’re even harder to resist when their terminals promise après ski and alpine access. Mountain enthusiasts can now travel directly from Rome to the slopes of Italy’s UNESCO-listed Dolomites region on the Espresso Cadore night train.

Operated by train company FS Treni Turistici Italiani (TTI), a subsidiary of Italy’s state-run railway network, the new sleeper train is part of the country’s pledge to promote the pleasure of slow tourism and offer more eco-friendly ways to travel. Espresso Cadore departs late on Friday evenings from Italy’s capital city and arrives the following morning in the ski town of Cortina d’Ampezzo in the northeastern Alps. With repurposed 1980s and 1990s cars furnished with vintage framed photographs and retro red accents, and extra storage provided for ski and hiking gear, the sleeper train serves up style and function in equal measure.

TTI operated the route for the first time from 15 December 2023 through to late February 2024 and plans to reopen for Europe’s 2024 summer season. Espresso Cadore is currently the only state-run night train that deposits travellers directly at the gateway of the incredible Dolomites region. Other overnight routes on Trenitalia’s Intercity Notte train travel between the North and South of Italy to cities such as Milan, Palermo and Naples.

Espresso Cadore train arriving at Calalzo station Italy
Espresso Cadore arriving at Calalzo station © Archivio FS Italiane

How long does the Espresso Cadore overnight journey take?

The total journey takes just under 11 hours. The state-run sleeper departs on Fridays from Roma Termini station at 9:40pm and arrives at Calalzo Pieve di Cadore Cortina station at 7:57am the following Saturday. From here, an included coach service transports passengers to the centre of Cortina d’Ampezzo, which takes around 50 minutes.

What carriages and amenities are available on the Espresso Cadore?

The Espresso Cadore sleeper train offers a range of accommodation options in its beautifully refurbished vintage carriages. Travellers can book single or double private sleeping cabins, which both include a three-course dinner. As a more affordable option, four- or six-bunk shared couchette compartments are also available. All room fares on the Espresso Cadore include breakfast.

The Italian night train offers a restaurant car that stops serving dinner at 10:30pm and an all-night bar service. Dedicated storage areas allow passengers to safely stow luggage and outdoor equipment, including ski gear and bikes.

Sleeping cabin on the Espresso Cadore train
Vintage travel photos hang on the walls of the Espresso Cadore sleeping cabins © Archivio FS Italiane

How to book a place on the Espresso Cadore night train

Tickets for the Espresso Cadore train can be purchased directly from the FS Treni Turistici Italiani website. Search ‘Roma Termini’ to ‘Cortina d’Ampezzo’ in the itinerary search function. As the route runs seasonally in the summer and winter months, bookings will reopen before the 2024 European summer season.

Restaurant car on the Espresso Cadore
Dining car on the Espresso Cadore © Archivio FS Italiane

How much does the Espresso Cadore cost?

The state-run Espresso Cadore is a mid-priced rail journey with staffed, white-tablecloth dining services and high-quality amenities. While the sleeper train isn’t classified as a luxury locomotive, it is an elevated rail journey compared to Trentalia’s standard day services. One-way tickets start at around €150 for a bunk in a couchette cabin, a single sleeping cabin will cost around €385. However, prices may vary according to the booking period and demand.

 ski town of Cortina d’Ampezzo in the Italian alps
Espresso Cadore arrives at the ski town of Cortina d’Ampezzo in the Italian alps © Adobe Stock

Where is Cortina d’Ampezzo?

Known as the ‘queen of the Dolomites’, Cortina d’Ampezzo is a ski town in the alps of northeastern Italy. It hosted the 1956 Winter Olympics and is set to be the main grounds for the 2026 Winter Olympics.

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