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Published:February 28th, 2009 12:17 EST
Europe by Train (Part 2)

Europe by Train (Part 2)

By Askin Ozcan (Mentor)

Italy is always an interesting country for train travel. Italians are talkative, friendly, wonderful, and always eager to help the tourists. You can expect to indulge into pleasant conversations with your fellow passengers during your train trips in Italy. They will tell you about their families, ask you about yours, tell jokes, help you with your travel itinerary in Italy and you will win new friendships on your train trips that will last a lifetime. But, one must also watch out for the mischievous ones, the thieves are plenty both in the trains and in the stations. I shall relate stories from both sides.  

I ran into a group of Italians once while travelling from Milano to Palermo. None in the group spoke any other language other than Italian and my vocabulary in Italian consisted of no more than ten popular words. In despite of this, I have indulged in a pleasant conversation with this group about many things ranging from opera to football, Italian cuisine to vacation places, problems in cities to economy and the politics of Italy.

Whether you understand Italian or not, Italians will continue talking Italian to you, complemented with their hand gestures. If you don`t understand, they will explain things again. It is impossible not to increase your knowledge of Italian in such a long train trip from Milano to Palermo.

After arrival in Palermo, they helped me find a reasonably priced pension at and gave me their phone numbers and asked me to call them the next day which I did. Much to my surprise, I could converse in Italian and make an appointment with one of the members of the group. We met and had a jolly good time.  

Another time, when travelling from Rome to Napoli, I ran into a group of three young men, two university students and a drafted army officer. They asked me what I was doing in Italy, where I was going to, what I liked about Italy and the subject winded down on Italian girls and if I looked for an Italian girl also, to marry.  Well, yes I said if I meet an Italian girl who is interested in marrying me, I would consider it. One of the university students who studied law, said jokingly: "But, you must know one fact about Italian girls. In order to marry one, you must have a big p`s. After laughing a little, I reacted and replied: "I don`t think so, I said it is enough to have a big heart."

All three young gentlemen laughed so much at this and one even commented: "We have underestimated your sense of humor, what you say is true and very funny." And he got up from his seat, went to all the compartments in the wagon and told the passengers whom he didn`t know, what I said.

Suddenly, people started to come to our compartment to see me. One girl even took my photograph and asked me, is it you who said that one needs a big heart to marry an Italian girl? We had a nice party in the compartment till we reached Napoli. Then I got out of the train, and my fellow passengers handed my luggage to me through the window of the compartment. This is Italy! One always has a nice time. 


Askin Ozcan is an author of six published books : THE SECOND VENICE, SMALL MIRACLES, WISDOM IN SMILE, STOCKHOLM STORIES, LIGHTNING AND A BOUQUET OF ROSES, THE MINI-SUBMARINE " all available at 200 internet bookshops globally, incl.