Another monument is in danger of sliding into disrepair in Italy, this time a living breathing one made of iron whose rails take you from the home of Ovid, Sulmona, and wind up some 1037 metres above seal level into the far reaches of the Apennine mountains. It carries you through hushed beech and pine forests and the stunning plateaus of Abruzzo’s national parks into Molise and Carpinone; it’s the epic Transiberiana d’Italia.
The Rail of the Clouds was one of those secrets that the Abruzzo region of central Italy seems great at swallowing until I was invited as a blogger to attend a special one-off journey organised by the photography portal Paesaggi d’Abruzzo. Italy’s second highest train and late 1800s masterpiece in engineering had been brought back to life by the not for profit Transita. They had begun organising a special Sunday service, a day of cultural adventure on this and associated Abruzzo & Molise railways stopping off at remote villages in Italy’s middle lands, tasting local products aboard the train and at local fairs, learning about pre-Roman tribes that inhabited the region accompanied by local folk musicians, the perfect way to spend a Sunday.
Samnites capital Pietrabbondante (IS) 1027 masl, formerly known as Bovianum Vetus
Too many of Italy’s finest accomplishments face closure because of a lack of investment, what will happen to its tourism when those ruins crumble to dust and the tourism it relies on so heavily chooses another safer land to walk in the footprints of? In Rome in the summer we sat listening to the head of one the banks talk about the problems of funding ‘history’ how the priority was finding money for the here and now rather than sites like Pompeii. If all of Italy’s draws fall down and become unsafe to visit will there even be a here and now for a country that is so dependent on tourism within its economy?
A loud shout-out; if there is a keen train spotter out there who’d love to get the line back on track, who has an equal passion for Italy and heritage and a healthy bank balance to invest in the Transiberiana d’Italia and who realises that 8000 passengers on a Abruzzo Molise Sunday service in a year can mean sustainable tourism, can they step forward as a business angel? I like many parents would love to be able to take my little boy on adventures in Italy in the future when he is old enough to enjoy them; that means not just in cities but to far-flung town and villages which have stories, wonderful foods and of course beauty to share.