Europe by Rail

Travel Books: Elsewhere

Exploring Europe by rail - from city background and cultural highlights to handy tips on route-planning and the most scenic journeys.


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The Romans have an inbuilt resistance to schedules and short lunch breaks. Life is too Latin for a Protestant work ethic. Indeed, they have no qualms about playing the tourist in their own city, from eating ice creams on Piazza Navona to tossing a coin in the Trevi Fountain, visiting the Vatican museums on a Vespa, lolling around the Villa Borghese Gardens, or peeking into the Pantheon while on a café crawl. In Italy’s most bewildering but beguiling city, it has never made more sense to `do as the Romans do.’

The ‘Eternal City’, dominated by its seven hills (Aventine, Capitoline, Celian, Esquiline, Palatine, Quirinal and Viminal), is cut by the fast-flowing River Tiber. Don’t expect Rome’s legendary `seven hills’ to stand out as landmarks: they are too gentle, and merge into one another. Instead, treat the Colosseum and Forum as the city centre, set on the right bank of the Tiber, with the Pantheon just north, and the chic Spanish Steps beyond. On the left bank of the Tiber lies bohemian Trastevere, a great restaurant and nightlife hub, with the mausoleum-fortress of Castel Sant’Angelo further north, and the Vatican City to the west. If this sounds exhausting (and it is), Villa Borghese is Rome’s green heart, but with Baroque fountains and galleries attached –there’s no escape from several millennia of art and architecture in a city that spawned a civilisation

Extract from "Europe by Rail" by Lisa Gerard-Sharp (copyright © Thomas Cook Publishing)
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