Severgnini is an excellent travel companion, witty — sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, sometimes slyly amusing — and perceptive, with a particular genius for the summative statement ... While Severgnini finds much to admire in other cultures and is always willing to laugh at Italian foibles, he is also justifiably proud of his own nation’s cultural history and is aware of its impact on the present ... The seven pages of advice on writing, while geared toward travel writing, are useful even for writers stationary at their desks ... brings the stages, cafes and bazaars to us as we relax by the fire.
Severgnini’s love affair with trains is as long as the Trans-Siberian Railway. Longer, perhaps ... Italy’s tortured political past gets full treatment ... Wry observations and gentle humor abound in addition to elegiac writing on trains and train travel.