This old train in Pistoia is one that I pass by every time I head towards my commuter train to Florence. It sits inside a graveyard of rusty trains that have been laid to rest. On most days I rush past them on my bike in a hurry and don’t often stop to contemplate these locomotives of another era.

What is there not to love about trains?

Here is a passage from the beginning of Italo Calvino‘s postmodern literary masterpiece, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller, (1979) translated by the great American translator of Italian Literature, William Weaver.


“The novel begins in a railway station, a locomotive huffs, steam from a piston covers the opening of the chapter, a cloud of smoke hides part of the first paragraph. In the odor of the station there is a passing whiff of station café odor. There is someone looking through the befogged glass, he opens the glass door of the bar, everything is misty, inside, too, as if seen by nearsighted eyes, or eyes irritated by coal dust. The pages of the book are clouded like the windows of an old train, the cloud of smoke rests on the sentences. It is a rainy evening; the man enters the bar; he unbuttons his damp overcoat; a cloud of steam enfolds him; a whistle dies away along tracks that are glistening with rain, as far as the eye can see.”




For the love of trains and the poetic and nostalgic music of Italian musician, Paolo Conte, here are two of my favorite songs of his with some lyrics about trains.

Azzurro & Il Treno Va can accompany the readings of some of those “Books That Fill You With Sudden, Inexplicable Curiosity, Not Easily Justified” as mentioned in Calvino’s novel.



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