Rail Guide to Italy

In the 1950s, Italian stylists were capturing worldwide attention with their designs, and the train on the cover of this booklet is one of the results. Called the ETR (for electric train rapid) 300 and nicknamed the Settebello, or Beautiful Seven, the seven-car train was electrically powered and capable of speeds of around 100 miles per hour. With the engineer in the turret, a dozen or so passengers got to have front-row seats as the trains traveled from Milan to Rome.

Click image to download a 6.2-MB PDF of this booklet and map.

Each train consisted of two power cars at either end that each rode on a shared truck in the middle that sandwiched three cars that also shared trucks. The government-owned Italian railroad originally wanted to buy a large fleet of Settebellos, but due to the high cost it ended up buying just three. The railroad did buy a few more trains that consisted of just the power cars, leaving out the three cars in the middle, which were called the ETR 250 or Ariecchino (Harlequin).

One web site says the design of the ETR 300 was inspired by the first jet airliners, but I am skeptical partly because it doesn’t look like the first jet airliners and partly because the first airliner, the Dehavilland Comet, was designed at the same time as, not before, the Settebello. I can’t find a date on the booklet, but the Settebello first went into service in 1952, so it was probably soon after that.

Instead of having a fold-out map in the back of this booklet, the outside cover folds out into a map, to which the sixteen-page booklet is attached. In French, German, and English, the booklet tells how to buy tickets, reserve seats, and check baggage, and gives an idea of how much trips cost.

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