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Back in late May 2017, my wife and I went to Italy for a lovely spring vacation. It was our first time in Italy and we enjoyed it immensely. We definitely want to go back. Since this is a train blog, I'm not going to talk about all of the vacation aspects, but instead cover the train-related parts of our trip... and there were a lot!
Getting to Rome
We flew in three phases - Winnipeg to Toronto (YWG-YYZ), Toronto to Frankfurt (YYZ-FRA), and Frankfurt to Rome (FRA-FCO). It's always a little sobering to think that you are flying 10 km above the ocean, hundreds if not thousands of kilometres from any land, at a large fraction of the speed of sound. I often take air travel for granted, but it's pretty amazing when you think of it.
In Frankfurt I saw these little automated airport trains zooming around.
Airport trams in Frankfurt
We arrived in Rome - but my wife's suitcase did not. We had to spend some time in the airport at the lost luggage counter, filling out forms and so forth to arrange to get her bag. It wasn't totally lost, just lagging a little behind us. It would end up being delivered to our hotel that evening.
To get from the airport (the Leonardo da Vinci!) to downtown Rome, we took the airport train, the Leonardo Express. The station is in the airport itself, which is common in Europe and very convenient.
After a little wait in the airport, our train arrived.
Leonardo Express train
This is an ETR-25 "Jazz" electric multiple unit (EMU) train, built by Alstom. It is very comfortable and whisked us downtown. It's all coach seating, of course, with no service on board, but it doesn't take too long so there's no need for drinks or anything like that.
Inside the Leonardo Express
I managed to grab the window seat (sorry, honey) and took a lot of photos of the trackside structures, maintenance equipment, and whatever else I could see. It's always interesting to see the railways of other countries and see how they differ from North American railways.
Maintenance equipment at Ponte Galeria, Italy
One thing I noticed quickly is that there is a lot of graffiti on the maintenance equipment. Also, the graffiti increased as we approached Rome. As you may know, I hate graffiti and it saddened me to see it here. I shouldn't have been surprised, since the word derives from the Italian "graffiato", meaning "scratched".
We passed a few small diesel locomotives.
Diesel locomotive in Italy, with graffiti (sigh)
Like Belgium, Italian trains are mostly electric, but there are some lines that are not electrified, and of course if you are doing maintenance on the wires, you need another way to move your equipment.
There are several train stations on the line between the airport and Rome, including Roma Trastevere, seen below. We didn't stop at any of them.
(Above) Locomotive E464-226 is a Bombardier E.464 class, the most common locomotive in service in Italy. 728 were built. It's capable of 4700 horsepower and a maximum speed of 160 km/hr. On that train, it was coupled to a regional train of passenger coaches. I've tried to find some information on those coaches but I can't find anything. My Google-fu has failed.
(Below) This is a "Vivalto" train set, manufactured by Hitachi. This is a six car consist, with one motor car and five trailers, with a total of 725 seats and a total capacity of 1,300 people including standing passengers.
We stayed in Rome from the 28th to the 31st of May, hitting the highlights, like the Colosseum, the Forum, the Vatican, and so forth. Rome is a marvelous city. I remember that it was very hot and I was glad that Rome has many free water fountains scattered around the city that you can refill your water bottle from. We drank a lot of water!
I did take a few photos of the outside of Roma Termini, but to be honest, it's pretty boring, in my opinion. The station was built in the 1950s and definitely has a modern look to it.
I won't bore you with a bunch of vacation photos, but here are two that I like.
My wife and I in the Gallery of Maps in the Vatican
That Gallery of Maps was definitely our favourite part of the Vatican - even more than the Sistine Chapel. Oddly enough, when we were in the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel was closed for a few hours. It turns out that our prime minister, Justin Trudeau, was visiting the Vatican at the same time that we were, and they cleared the chapel out so he could be alone in there.
Let me tell you, it was pretty crowded when we went in! I have no photos, because photography is not allowed in the chapel, even though a lot of people were sneaking photos. sigh
Coming UpAfter Rome, we boarded a train to take us to the Cinque Terre area of Italy, which is a set of five ("cinque") small fishing towns. This is a beautiful area of Italy, and although we only spent one night there, we fell in love with it. It was also a great place to do some railfanning!
This article first appeared on blog.traingeek.ca
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