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Florence is responsible for coordinating our team of professional travel writers producing our Greentraveller Guides as well as accommodation reviews and our award-winning blog. She speaks French and Italian. Before Greentraveller, she spent five years editing the Italian collection of Alastair Sawday's Special Places to Stay.
Ever since I spent a summer inter-railing around Europe aged 20, I've been a bit of a train addict (though not in the notepad and pencil sort of way..). That was the first time I clapped eyes on Rome: I’ll never forget pulling into the coolness of Termini station then stepping out into the blinding August sunshine, straight into the chaos of central Rome; fifteen minutes later I was standing amidst the Forum’s fallen columns and I was in love. I'm pretty sure this affair wouldn't have got off to quite such a romantic start had it begun at the bland out of town airport, followed by a sweaty bus ride into the city with dozens of camera-clutching holiday makers.
It's difficult to pin down a favourite European train journey, but if I had to plump for one it would probably be the London to Sicily overnight. The most bizarre part of the trip awaits you at the very end of the mainland in Reggio San Giovanni, on Italy's 'big toe'. Without leaving your train, the carriages are dismantled and stowed onto a ferry which makes the short crossing to the other side, where it is reassembled to continue its journey through Sicily. The novelty of watching the sea outside the window and feeling the roll of the waves from the comfort of your train carriage never wears off.
In 2010 my boyfriend and I travelled to China on the Trans-Siberian railway, and returned to Europe via Tibet, Nepal, India, Pakistan and Kazakhstan. Most people thought we were mad to even contemplate doing the whole thing overland (and, admittedly, we nearly lost faith in the idea ourselves several times, particularly whilst making our way north out of Pakistan during the summer floods of 2010), but for us, travelling by train wasn't only about reducing our carbon footprint. It was about doing things a bit differently - it gives a uniqueness to the travel experience that you just can't get from hopping between one airport lounge and another. It’s about travelling with the locals, witnessing changing landscapes, cultures and communities between one destination and another, and creating your own adventure away from the stifling homogeneity of airports. It may not always be the quickest way to get from A to B, but it’s definitely a lot more fun.