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Italian Ways: On and Off the Rails from Milan to Palermo

Italian Ways: On and Off the Rails from Milan to Palermo [Kindle Edition]

Tim Parks
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Product Description


Starred review. Delightful [and] hilarious . Combining wonderfully evocative prose with a wry analysis, Parks provides local color while continually seeking hidden social meaning . The result is a fascinating portrait of a society that seems rooted in place no matter how fast it goes. "

Book Description

A journey around Italy by train, full of humorous and insightful observations on what the railways and their travellers reveal about the country

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 930 KB
  • Print Length: 282 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0393239322
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (6 Jun 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S. r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00CF2YFS4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #30,282 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Apart from a rather silly typo at the start of the book which states that Parks travels from Verona to Milan via Genova Piazza Princpe, this is a delightful book and should arm anyone planning a trip in Italy using the trains. It will also provoke wry grins from those of us who are seasoned in the use of Trenitalia. As Parks explains the train system in Italy mirrors the Country itself: charming but also maddeningly bureaucratic and cussed in a way that drives those not familiar with it to distraction. You have to have you wits about you and be on your guard (and for heaven's sake make sure you stamp your ticket in the yellow box before you board the train) but at the same time the railway allows you to travel all over this wonderful country at a very reasonable (highly subsidised) cost: something that struck me as amazing on the first of my travels after putting up with the rip off fares in Britain. It also allows you to meet some wonderful people and this is something Parks also mention. Inter regional trains in Italy are made up of compartments of 6 seats and you can always bank on meeting some characters on the journey. Sure you can remain aloof if you don't want to talk but for me this is always part of the fun. Parks also describes the unique bustling atmosphere of Italian main train stations. Unlike the UK, they always give a sense of excitement of the journey for the journey ahead. You only have to go to Milan Cenrale or Roma Termini to get this vibe.

This is a book that has me looking forward to further journeys in the year ahead and has given me even more insight into that which I already have. It also has some lovely observations, especially about the deep south of Italy which is shamefully abandoned and an area which I have yet to visit.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
In his introduction, Tim Parks admits that the essence of this book had been in his mind for many years. Pleasingly, all that marinading has paid off.

Nominally, it's a book about Trenitalia - the Italian national railway system - with the addition of the little privatised addendum formed by Ferrovie Sud East in the very heel of Italy.

But it's really about the country itself; the people, how they think, and their unique relationship with their state institutions. It is populated by wonderful walk-on characters; the furbo - the sly one who always spots an opportunity to jump a queue, the "rather beautiful young woman, raven hair, the kind of breasts that Italians call prosperose...". As you travel you are surrounded by official announcements and overheard conversations, by rusting pre-war signposts and snatches of graffiti; by things seen and heard from open train windows as the warm breeze brings the scent of rosemary and sage and farts and rotting fish to your nostrils.

Read it while commuting. Read it in a crowded airport lounge. Read it on a wet afternoon on holiday. Read it in bed after a frustrating day in the office. But do read it.

Yes it's probably twenty pages too long. But that imperfection is part of the point.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An life-enhancing excursion on Italian rails 20 July 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A wonderful, telling series of musings, notionally on the author's experience of Italian state railways, but at its best on the little joys, absurdities and annoyances of human life in general. This book will be particularly appreciated by those who know what it's like to travel with Trenitalia, but for those who don't, the book offers a particularly insightful introduction to Italian life through the medium of the train carriage. Parks's theme effortlessly takes in the perennial paradoxes of Italian life: from the tension between the country's arcane and complex regulations and its apparent disregard for them, to the extraordinary and enduring differences between North and South. Parks's love for and celebration of his adopted homeland are evident in each page, as are his warm humanity and sense of humour. The book also makes a strong case for the necessity of affordable railways in a civilised society. Read Stefano Maggi's 'Le Ferrovie' next if you are interested in following up the social history of railways on the peninsula (a theme which Parks touches on).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another winner by Tim Parks 18 July 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A creative approach to Italian rail travel that explores much more than trains. Another wonderful insight into the Italian way of life from an original perspective. Thoroughly recommended for all lovers of Italy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book 16 July 2013
By kjp1804
I really enjoyed this book, it touches on many things from the beautiful country Italy to the social aspects. I really enjoy the personal accounts and descriptions which Tim Parks adds to this book.
Do not be 'fooled' by the title, many people who I know have been put off somehow by the title, but being a Tim Parks fan for some time now, I knew it was going to be good.. And it was.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must read! 2 July 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Having lived in Italy for many years, Tim Parks uses his extensive knowledge and experience of living and working in Italy in his latest book. A must read for all of us who love Italy and enjoy reading Park's observations on Italy and the Italians. His observations on Sicily were of particular interest to us as we have one of our cooking schools near Ragusa.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
When my husband and I were planning our dream sojourn to Italy, back at the beginning of the century Tim Parks was one of the authors that we read as part of our research. Italian Neighbours and Italian Education in particular, both of which are a must for Italophiles, although they may now be a little dated in some aspects. I had not realised until I picked Italian Ways up recently in the local library that this is his his first Italian travelogue in a decade.

An amusing and fascinating portrait of Italy by riding its trains from Verona to Milan, Rome to Palermo, and right down to the heel of Italy and Sicily. With thirty years experience of travelling of on Italian railways he has plenty to reveal in this latest book. Through encounters on the trains with Conductors and Ticket Collectors, Priests and Prostitutes, Gipsies and Immigrants, Scholars and Lovers he captures so well the distinctive moods of Italy and Italians, much of which I was able to relate to.

In conclusion Italian Ways is a mix of Memoir, Travel and Train History that should appeal to many Italophiles.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five stars for holiday reading
I started this book on the over-night train from Paris to Venice and 5 trains later, via Verona, Lucca, Pisa and Florence, I finished. A humorous travelling companion. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Martyn C Knox
5.0 out of 5 stars Parks has nailed it!
I travel to Italy twice a year and it is not easy to explain the way things work in Italy to friends back in the UK but Parks absolutely nails it. Read more
Published 2 months ago by P. Symonds
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
I bought this as a present for a friend following the sale of my house in Sicily, as a reminder. Lovely well written, accurate guide.
Published 3 months ago by Lesley Pickard
4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasing read for lovers of life in Italy
Anyone who has an interest in Italian life and/or train travel with get several pleasant evenings of entertainment from this book. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Book Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Italian Train Travel
Tim Parks' writes the most wonderful books on his life in Italy - this book is another winner. I love travelling by train and so to read this book written with such insight and... Read more
Published 5 months ago by edna francis
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Parks, but it helps to be a real train fan
I always enjoy Tim Parks's writing, which is engaging and accessible. He has a natural curiosity which makes him ask, and answer, lots of questions about Italian society. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Norman Housley
4.0 out of 5 stars italian ways
I enjjoyed italian ways very much. well written and interesting. i hope to read more of tim parks books soon..
Published 5 months ago by john harrison
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun, informative and detailed Italian journey.
We have extensively travelled Italia ourselves. We love Italian rail ( Trenitalia ) journeys. The author who knows Italian life, depicts in comical and readable way, a complex and... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Adlerinternational
4.0 out of 5 stars Bellissima
Not quite sure whether T Parks is an expert at running jokes or an old curmudgeon from the way he
bangs on at continually being spotted as an englishman after his 20 years... Read more
Published 6 months ago by shirley mack
1.0 out of 5 stars train spotting
for train spotters only this is so boring i gave up way before the end. If you love Tim Parks other books on Italy dont be fooled into beliving this is is similar
Published 6 months ago by T R NASH
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