IMG_0923I’ve always loved trains.  I love the smoke-belching screech of wheels, the shudder of tracks when the locomotive jerks to a halt under open skies, the watercolor sweep of scenery from the windows of the dining car, and that inimitable sensation of imagining oneself in two places at once.  Then there’s the physical expanse of the station or terminal itself, the parallel tracks and towering ceilings, the schedule boards on high with numbers and names flipping like dominos.  And while I no longer travel with trunks and hat boxes, as my family and I did when we arrived as immigrants in Grand Central station over forty years ago, the implied elegance of traveling by train, the return to another era, even though we now walk with iPads in hand and lighter suitcases on wheels, feels the same to me today as it did then.  I still thrill at the very act of stepping up and into a train car, with or without a cumbersome piece of luggage, which seems to get heavier in spite of all my attempts to pack light. What I take with me is of no importance. It’s what I’m going to and what I leave behind, what I gather up and consider along the way.  It’s the rumbling train car that weaves together the novels of childhood, the mysteries of Agatha Christie, that first swooping train ride into Venice with the Campanile of San Marco beyond the flat waters of the canal. It’s my family’s first trip into the United States from Italy via Canada on an overnight train, and it’s the first bullet train ride past Mt. Fuji on that trip from Tokyo to Kyoto, and all the subsequent trains, high speed or otherwise, through the alps from Zurich to Sils Maria, a glass of Bordeaux and a Marguerite Duras novel at my elbow, from Venice to Florence, my backpack in an overhead rack, as I  savored a plate of gnocchi enveloped in the silkiest tomato sauce I’d ever tasted, and of course to countless in-theater or at-home viewings or streamings of “Murder On The Orient Express” and “Summertime”

Makes me wonder why I rarely take in the marvel that is in my own backyard,   Grand Central Terminal.  No doubt I did so that first morning when we entered the United States for the first time.  And so, recently, I decided to stand in the center of Grand Central and take it in the way I did then, with dazzled eyes.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestby feather
Follow!facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestinstagramby feather


Gabriella Contestabile is an author, educator, and owner of SU MISURA JOURNEYS, a boutique travel company connecting people to the artisans of Florence. She emigrated, with her parents, from Italy to New York City in 1959. In her pre-writer life, she worked as a foreign language teacher, management development specialist, and fragrance/cosmetics executive. Gabriella is a strong advocate of the arts, of multiculturalism, and of social justice—a passion inspired by reading Dickens and Dante at a very young age. She lives on the Upper West Side with her husband, her daughter, and a furry Shih–Tzu named Oreo. ‘ The Artisan’s Star’ is her first novel. She is currently working on a collection of short stories, also set in Italy, and a screenplay.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *