Italian Ways: On and Off the Rails from Milan to Palermo by Tim ParksThe best-selling author of Italian Neighbors returns with a wry and revealing portrait of Italian life—by riding its trains.
Tim Parks’s books on Italy have been hailed as so vivid, so packed with delectable details, [they] serve as a more than decent substitute for the real thing (Los Angeles Times Book Review). Now, in his first Italian travelogue in a decade, he delivers a charming and funny portrait of Italian ways by riding its trains from Verona to Milan, Rome to Palermo, and right down to the heel of Italy.
Parks begins as any traveler might: A train is a train is a train, isn’t it? But soon he turns his novelist’s eye to the details, and as he journeys through majestic Milano Centrale station or on the newest high-speed rail line, he delivers a uniquely insightful portrait of Italy. Through memorable encounters with ordinary Italians—conductors and ticket collectors, priests and prostitutes, scholars and lovers, gypsies and immigrants—Parks captures what makes Italian life distinctive: an obsession with speed but an acceptance of slower, older ways; a blind eye toward brutal architecture amid grand monuments; and an undying love of a good argument and the perfect cappuccino.
Italian Ways also explores how trains helped build Italy and how their development reflects Italians’ sense of themselves from Garibaldi to Mussolini to Berlusconi and beyond. Most of all, Italian Ways is an entertaining attempt to capture the essence of modern Italy. As Parks writes, To see the country by train is to consider the crux of the essential Italian dilemma: Is Italy part of the modern world, or not?
How to Travel Italy by Train: It’s Easy, We Promise
We visited Italy in July We had Italy rail passes. We got good value but made a couple of mistakes which you should avoid. We did not know you can use your Italy train pass for that. The second mistake we made was with Eurorail. It is better to go directly to the Italian rail website but I tried that and it was very user unfriendly.
Check them out over at walksofitaly. First, a quick look at the other options. Driving in Italy, particularly in Italian cities, can be confusing, chaotic, stressful and, for the uninitiated, even dangerous. Meanwhile, with all of the hassles of flying and the time required to get out to the airport, a flight often winds up taking as long, or longer, than the train — and, again, is often more expensive. Take a look at both to compare dates, times and prices. Trenitalia is the national rail service, so it includes all of the national routes. You can opt for one-way or for return, and you have to put in your starting point, destination, and date.
How to Travel on Italian Trains
Not for most people — think carefully before buying a rail pass, especially if your trip doesn't extend beyond Italy. - Seats are comfortable in business Frecciarossa trains are excellent alternatives to airplanes as means of intra-Italy travel.
I am traveling to Italy soon and bought my train tickets through Italiarail. Has anyone faced any problems with their bookings upon reaching the station, any seat mixups or false bookings? I had absolutely no problems at all, it was smooth and easy. You don't need tickets, you just give your booking number when the attendants come through checking tickets. Staff often checked the reservation before we got on, but finding the right train was easy with the big boards in all the major stations. I found out after booking through Italiarail that by booking direct with Trentalia we would have had better options if we missed a train, which was an error I made rushing to get cheap prices. We just made sure we were really early for all our reservations.