Issued by Peco Publications & Publicity Ltd.
The title of this interesting new collection of photos of Italian railways is translated as 'Signs of a Railway', and shows aspects of the line along the Ligurian coast, much of which was closed when a new alignment was opened in September 2001. Although 'signs' is the literal translation, 'traces' or maybe even 'hallmarks' might give more of a sense of the theme, and the geographical range covers more than just the coast line.
The collection is presented in four parts - along the coast, electric traction, travelling on a railcar, and steam in historical and scenic context. Although each is introduced by a brief section of text, for the most part this is simply an album of some fifty-five excellent black & white photographs. The majority are reproduced one to a page, though some are smaller, two or three to a page, or adjacent to the text. The white borders can be quite generous - even when there is just one picture on the page, few of them actually fill the almost square space, but then those that do so are the more striking.
The captions always include identification of the loco, train, location, line, and date. The images range from June 1984 to November 2001, though most are from the 1990s.
The motive power depicted encompasses electric, diesel, and steam, some of the latter still in service and some preserved, on all types of trains.
Most of the images are by the author, and reveal a clearly detailed knowledge of his prototype and a dedication to the subject; they are distinguished by well chosen locations, interesting viewpoints, and careful composition. They convey the impression of being but a small part of a larger body of work, and leave you wanting to see more of it, and the railways it depicts.
Given the Italian scenery, it is perhaps a shame the book has not been printed in colour, though the choice of monochrome was a deliberate artistic decision. If this sounds pretentious, the result is not. This is a book that should appeal to anyone who appreciates good railway photography, not just to existing Italian enthusiasts.
All copies sold outside Italy will be supplied with an English version of the text: the translation is more than competent and always comprehensible even if the style of the original does not always carry over appropriately to a railway book in English.
As well as the book, Giorgio Stagni has issued two sets of eight postcards, and these are in colour, from photographs by himself and Giovanni Demuru. They are well printed, and complement the book admirably.