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Viaggi Circulari on the Trains 01/10/2011

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c. 1880

To those intending to travel in Italy, great advantages are held out by the railway companies in the shape of circular tour tickets (viaggi circulari). The Indicatore della Strada Ferrata contains a list with plans of a large number of such tours, the tickets for which are issued, enduring, according to the length of tour, from ten to sixty days (which cannot be extended), at the large reduction of 45 per cent, upon the price which would otherwise be exigible. One of these tours is, for example, a complete round of Italy – from Turin by the west coast, embracing Florence and Rome to Naples, and thence by the east coast by Ancona, Bologna, Venice, Milan, and back to Turin, at a cost for first class of £7, 17s., and second and third classes correspondingly low. This tour, for which sixty days are allowed, enables the traveller to stop at any important town on the lines; and all that is necessary is, at starting from each place, to get the next station at which he means to stop scored through at the railway window. To those whose time is limited, these circular tickets are valuable, and they are procurable with Italian paper, so that the benefit of exchange is got. Cook and Gaze issue tickets for the same circular tours, and probably at the same price, although I suppose they are generally in connection with tickets from London; but they have, I understand, to be paid for in English money. They possess the advantage, I believe, by no means to be undervalued, of having all directions printed in English as well as Italian. The railway companies issue their tickets at every important town on the line of route to be travelled.

Rome at Midnight 09/07/2011

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c. 1905

The station at Florence was crowded and noisy, for in the July heat everyone who can travels by night; but fortunately the world and his wife were going northwards, pressing into packed carriages, while we, whose faces were turned to the south, might trust to travel in comparative peace. So a kind fate ordained it, for when at eleven p.m. the train, bearing the tremendous name of Rome upon it, shunted out into the darkness, the engine giving vent to short staccato grunts, our carriage was free from all intrusive strangers, and we were at liberty to dispose ourselves, our dogs and possessions, to our own satisfaction, and make the best arrangements possible for either watching or sleep.

Circular Tour Tickets 08/07/2011

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c.

1880

To those intending to travel in Italy, great advantages are held out by the railway companies in the shape of circular tour tickets (viaggi circulari). The Indicatore della Strada Ferrata contains a list with plans of a large number of such tours, the tickets for which are issued, enduring, according to the length of tour, from ten to sixty days (which cannot be extended), at the large reduction of 45 per cent, upon the price which would otherwise be exigible. One of these tours is, for example, a complete round of Italy – from Turin by the west coast, embracing Florence and Rome to Naples, and thence by the east coast by Ancona, Bologna, Venice, Milan, and back to Turin, at a cost for first class of £7, 17s, and second and third classes correspondingly low. This tour, for which sixty days are allowed, enables the traveller to stop at any important town on the lines; and all that is necessary is, at starting from each place, to get the next station at which he means to stop scored through at the railway window. To those whose time is limited, these circular tickets are valuable, and they are procurable with Italian paper, so that the benefit of exchange is got. Cook and Gaze issue tickets for the same circular tours, and probably at the same price, although I suppose they are generally in connection with tickets from London; but they have, I understand, to be paid for in English money. They possess the advantage, I believe, by no means to be undervalued, of having all directions printed in English as well as Italian. The railway companies issue their tickets at every important town on the line of route to be travelled.

No Smoking on the Train 04/03/2011

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c. 1880

We left Florence for Bologna by train at 7.50 a.m. As we were about to enter a railway carriage, a pleasant-looking English lady looked out and cried to us deterringiy, ‘This is not a smoking carriage.’ ‘Thank you, madam,’ I replied; ‘that is just what we want.’ So, as the two parties filled the compartment, we were not troubled with any selfish smoker, and, as we were all English, with no needless exclusion of the views by lowering the blinds. We reached Bologna at noon. The railway passes through many tunnels, and in some places at a great elevation. The views from it are fine. [Bologna] itself is dull, and the shops entering from the arcades are dark and second-rate. Photographs of Bologna can be procured at Florence, and perhaps in some as yet undiscovered region in Bologna itself. The Hotel Brun (the principal one) is an old-fashioned house. Like many of the Italian hotels, the salons are entered direct from the court-yard.

Vallombrosa by Funicular Railway 02/03/2011

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c.1905

Vallombrosa is now very easy of access: an hour about from Florence to Sant’ Ellero; about another hour in the Funicular from Sant’ Ellero to the Saltino station, and there we are, three thousand feet and more above the level of the Tuscan sea, gazing over all the beauties of the Val d’Arno Superiore, and only twenty minutes’ walk from the world-famed Abbey.

The Funicular railway was made in 1892 by the exertions of Count Joseph Telfener, since deceased. The system is cogwheel and infallible; no accident has ever occurred, for no accident could occur.

We are pushed up the mountain side in open carriages, and freely enjoy a glorious view, passing first through vineyards and olive orchards, then constantly through mountain shrubberies and woods of juniper, arbutus, ilex, beech, and chestnut (how beneficently the air changes with the first appearance of the chestnut), until we land on a level with the pine-forests.

Outside the station is the Grand Hotel Saltino, finely placed to catch all the breezes from the four quarters of the globe; opposite is a Hotel Milton, as one might have expected after all those countless references to a certain quotation which nothing shall induce me to quote.

Here, too, are the few shops and most of the villini and chalets. On the road to the abbey we pass on the right the Grand Hotel Croce di Savoia; on the left the noble Hotel Castello di Acquabella. I may call it noble (though they would fain have it ‘grand’ also) for it is really a fine chateau in mediaeval style, built for himself twenty-five years ago by Count Pio Resse, with no thought of the accommodation of pleasure-seekers.

Soon we are in the first of the pine-forests with its ‘insuperable height of loftiest shade’, and the communal road takes on that billiard-table-like smoothness peculiar to roads that are sheltered by pines. We pause for a moment to drink in the strong, exhilarating, aromatic odour of the forest, and my companion would fain have broken away for a sylvan ramble. But I am in haste to be at the abbey, and drag him reluctant along with me. In a brief space the towers and campanile of that vast historic building come in sight, and in a few minutes more we have passed through the courtyard and found cool shelter in the dark Abbey Church.

Pisa, Siena then Rome 25/02/2011

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c. 1880

There are two routes from Pisa to Rome – one by Leghorn and the coast, which would have obliged us either to stop the night at the uninviting town of Civita Vecchia, or to have arrived at Rome late in the evening. We chose the other route by Sienna. To go by Sienna, the traveller proceeds eastward about half-way along the railway to Florence, and changes carriages at Empoli. From Empoli the railway strikes off southward to Sienna and Rome.

Sienna stands high, being 1330 feet above the level of the sea, and is considered a place of summer residence for its coolness. was therefore somewhat apprehensive, considering the cold weather we had endured, lest it might be too cold. Although, however, it stands high above the level of the sea, it does not seem to be more than 200 feet above the level of the surrounding country, or of the railway, and we did not find it very cold. But a change had taken place in the weather, and it was again a fine cloudless day.

Having decided to go by Sienna, we could not resist making another excursion to the cathedral before starting by the mid-day train, and were all but tempted to ascend the Campanile. But to an invalid it looked chilly outside, and the height deterring; and I being the only one who might have gone, the custodier could not take me alone, the rule, to guard against accidents or suicide, being that not less than three must make the ascent at a time.

The cathedral looked much finer in the sunshine, and we could have lingered long examining it in detail, and would gladly have had there the wearisome time, well-nigh an hour, we were, according to Italian custom, required to spend in the salle-d’attente of the railway.

The journey from Pisa to Sienna, about seventy miles, is through a mountainous country, with some places of interest by the way, though our prospect was much contracted by reason of a passenger in the carriage who would draw down all the blinds on his side and read a book the whole way, till his wife, out of shame, seeing our disappointment, persuaded him to allow one of the three blinds on his side to be raised, there being no sun peering in even to justify an excuse, which, indeed, never was made. In four hours and twenty minutes we arrived at our destination.

Florence’s Stations c. 1905 12/02/2011

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c. 1905

Railways – Travellers may save themselves annoyance at the always ill-managed Stazione Centrale by taking their tickets beforehand and registering their luggage at the Agenzia di Citta delle Ferrovie, at the corner of the Via dell’ Arcivescovado and the Via dei Pecori, or at the offices of Cook, 10 Via Tornabuoni, or Gaze, 20 Via Tornabuoni. There is a small station, at which slow trains to the south sometimes stop, at the Campo di Marte, but it is seldom of any advantage.

Cortona from the train 04/02/2011

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c. 1910

Towards three o’clock we passed Cortona, its white houses and churches gleaming pearly among the ilex and olive groves as they straggled up the steep hillside. Its wonderful name was shouted out by a sleepy porter with no more emotion than if it had been Hull or Brighton, yet this Etruscan city is so inconceivably ancient that it claims no less than to have sent forth the founders of Troy! However that may be, it is wondrous old, and its immense antiquity, the thought of the strange Etruscan rites which those slopes must have witnessed before the coming of the White Christ, the strange permanence of these material objects in a world of change, lays a steadying, calming hand upon the heart. It possesses more modern memories, too, of Luca Signorelli, its great son, who left his best work at Orvieto and here in his native town.