Deals Of The Week: Italian rail travel; Ferry to France; fly to Slovakia

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The Independent Travel

Driving in Italy is only for the very good or the very misguided


Driving in Italy is only for the very good or the very misguided. Rail travel, however, is fast, safe, comfortable and cheap. If you are planning a lot of train travel in Italy, the Trenitalia rail pass ticket is probably the most economical option. It buys between four and 10 days travel in a two-month stretch. Four days in second class costs £125, while 10 days in first class is £250. A saver pass for two to five people travelling together cuts around 10 per cent from these prices. Supplements are payable for overnight accommodation, and for Eurostar Italia high-speed services.

You can book in advance through Trains Europe (0900 195 0101, 60p per minute, refundable against confirmed bookings); the pass can also be bought at main stations in leading tourist cities, including Bologna, Florence, Milan, Naples, Rome (both Termini station and Fiumicino airport) and Venice.


Boulogne is back in favour this summer, even though a proposed ferry link from Dover has failed to start as promised. SpeedFerries, the company that said it would have five sailings each way every day this summer, now says that, "A launch date will be announced on 8 August". Since this will mean the high season has effectively been missed, I would not hold your breath waiting for it to start.

Meanwhile, P&O Ferries has teamed up with National Express to offer a bus link from London via Chatham, Maidstone, Canterbury and the Dover-Calais ferry, to Boulogne. Fares for a day return start at £15.90 for Dover, £18.90 from Canterbury and £23.90 from London. Book through National Express on 08705 143 219 (you may need to quote "P&O Port Services") or online at


You wait a century for direct air links between the UK and Slovakia, and then two come along at once - at least in theory. On Friday, Sky Europe (020-7365 0365, is due to start flying three times a week between Stansted and Bratislava. The lowest fares I have managed to find are £49 return; there is no penalty for booking by phone, rather than online, which is just as well because the website has not been working perfectly.

A rival carrier, Air Slovakia, is planning to introduce services linking Heathrow and Birmingham with the Slovak capital, starting around the end of July.

Bratislava will be the featured city in "48 Hours" in the travel section this Saturday.