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on 27 April 2017
Be warned this is not the ways of the Italians but a book about the Italian railways
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on 19 October 2013
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 charming social life in Italia. If you are thinking to visit or stay in Italia in future, this book help you to acquaint yourself to Italia.
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on 22 March 2017
I enjoyed it very much, but was a little bit disappointed by the author's train trip to Sicily. I was expecting there to be more about people and places in Sicily.
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on 18 December 2017
Really enjoyed this. Some people seem to think the author doesnt like Italy. Of course he does. He loves it. So do I and the book is accurate and hugely enjoyable
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on 29 October 2017
Interesting and amusing at first but then somewhat repetitive.
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on 28 November 2015
Good
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on 14 May 2017
easy reading, but never dull
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on 3 September 2013
I have read Tim Parks non-fiction (Italian Neighbours, An Italian Education, A Season with Verona) with great pleasure as he continues to find ways of explaining his adopted country to those of us who only visit. This is an immensely interesting book because Tim has changed but nowhere near as much as Italy and the railways turn out to be a perfect framework upon which he can hang his deeply insightful observations and explanations of the country and the people.

His narrative is as usual funny, endearing, irritating and often leaves you gasping at the apparent contradictions in Italian society. But my particular pleasure in this book is the revelations about Italy as a country and, the best part, the increasing unwillingness of Tim to 'put up with it' - his description of his set-to with the capotreno over an online ticket had me howling with laughter - not just the situation but Tim's reaction to it (by his own admission he doesn't come out of it well at all). But for the grace of god there go I is all I can say.

Still there is a thread of a deep love for Italy and the good bits - the perfectly executed cappuccino by a young man happy in his work in a cafe being a fine example.

If you haven't read this book - you should, if you haven't read the other books I recommend them highly. I can guarantee that if you visit Italy after reading Tim's books there will be a moment when you just get why something happens and you will smile.
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on 11 June 2013
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. All in all then this book ranks alongside Italian Neighbours, Italian Education and A Season with Verona as an insiders commentary from a man who has lived in the Country for 30 odd years and raised an Italian family there. It is a great read.
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on 16 November 2013
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. He can also be very funny. But I did find this book rather bitty, and some of the anecdotes were wearying. It helps I think if you are into trains in a big way, which I am not - because although the trains are a symbol or a metaphor for Italy for much of the time, Parks has a lot of interest in how the Italian network has developed and changed over the generations. I am exactly his age so it's also interesting to see him getting more irritable as he gets older, and the famed italian bureaucracy - whose insanities play a large part in this book - grinds him down.
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