Chugging Around The Train Museum
Trains from the glory days of Naples! Housed in a disused factory at Pietrarsa, right on the edge of the water, the National Railway Museum is the first in Italy and among the largest in Europe. Here is where the history of Italian railways started. The whole museum structure was one of the first industrial structures that was built in Italy: the Royal Mechanic and Pyrotechnic Factory will of Ferdinand since 1840. In 1842, the first building of this historical structure was built, and the following year an edict of the king destined the factory to the construction and fixing of locomotives and carriages. The whole structure was completed in 1853 and for decades it was considered the biggest Italian mechanic industry. The factory worked continuously until 1975, when, with the final decline of the steam traction, the FS decided to close it and then transform it into a big national railway museum. This place is fun for all ages and crammed full of things! Among the exhibits are railcars, the first electric train’s with a driver’s cab, wagons for transporting coal, & royal carriages. There were those of the first “fast” trains, steam locomotives including the “Bayard,” twin of the “Vesuvio,” which inaugurated the first Italian railway linking Naples to Portici (7.5km), and a giant model 18 km long that a railway worker spent his entire life building! The outside has a large, beautiful Mediterranean garden right on the Gulf of Naples with incredible views.
Steam Locomotives Pavilion- The Former Assembly Workshop
This is the building that displays the most important steam engines of Ferrovie dello Strato; it is 5.000 square meters large, the largest building of the Museum. Cast iron columns support the whole structure of the building together with iron trusses. Originally, it was the assembling/dismantling department and the building dedicated to the reparation of locomotives. The first exhibit on display is the most important piece of the Museum: the reproduction (1939) of the Bayard Locomotive, the twin locomotive of the Vesuvio, which made the maiden journey on the Naples-Portici line in 1839.
On both sides of the pavilion there are a series of locomotives that made history of the steam traction in Italy: the 290 that dates back to 1889; some loco-tenders; the 477 was made in Prague and it was employed by the FS after World War I; the 640.088 that was the last locomotive to be repaired at Pietrarsa; the 740.115, which became famous for transporting the corpse of the Unknown Soldier from Aquileia to Rome in 1921; the 680.037 that, in 1907, reached 118km/h setting the record; and the 625, known as Signorina (Miss) due to its graceful forms.
The Turning Platform
The turning platform is part of the fixed infrastructure (rails), that can move in order to turn rail vehicles and direct them on another rail or on the same binary but in the opposite direction. It is used in deposits, in workshops, hangars, and where it’s necessary to move locomotives and cars from a rail to another one. The turning platforms were employed at the very beginning of Italy’s railways. The first ones were used in 1839 on the Naples-Portici line. They can be distinguished between platforms to turn locomotives or platforms to direct cars on other rails. A turning platform is made up of a circular grave where the tools for movement are located: a plate or moving bridge on which the rail is installed; a central linchpin that supports the plate and the bridge; wheels that support the plates during the rotation. They can be distinguished according to their diameter. Between 1905-1914, following a cataloguing made by the Officine Materiale Fisso di Pontassieve, some platforms were used to move carriages, cars, and especially locomotives with a plate of 5,5 meters in diameter, and to turn locomotives with a plate between 7 and 21,5 meters of diameter.
Pavilion’s B & C
Initially, this building housed the boiler workshops and furnaces used for melting metal. Along the wall that divides pavilion “B” from pavilion “C,” there is rare proof of the deep devotion of Pietrarsa’s workmen- a niche dedicated to Saint Ciro and Saint Gennaro, made at the beginning of the 20th century in substitution of the old chapel. Today, the building displays carriages and multiples units and some direct-current locomotives. In this building there are precious carriages such as the Carriage 10 of the Royal Train S10. It is a dining carriage and it is the most luxurious, thanks to its decorations and furnishings. It was built in 1929 by the Fiat, designed by the architect Giulio Casanova and commissioned by Victor Emmanuel III to celebrate the wedding of his son Prince Umberto of Savoy and Maria Josè of Belgium. There are the imposing diesel train railcars known as Littorine, built in the ’30’s and with a special shade of brown, called “castano-isabella;” the so-called Centoporte ABZ 66546 (1930), and finally the prototype of the E444.001, ironically known as Tartaruga (Turtle), that in 1967 reached the speed of 2000 km/h on the line Rome-Naples.
The Historic Platform Roof
The historic platform roof is from Fiorenzuola d’Arda, a small station on the Parma-Piacenza route of the Milan-Bologna railway line. These platform roofs with cast-iron columns, were built between 1906 and 1911 by the Service XI of the “Mantenimento delle Ferrovie dello Stato.” It is an elegant late Art Nouveau platform roof widely used for public furniture during that period. In the canopy it is possible to admire some typical elements: the bargeboard, the capital with acanthus leaves, elegant small columns, rose floral decorations and small cones. The Fondazione FS archives contain some documents that say the platform roof was placed in 1934 in the Fiorenzuola D’Arda station, using the material of the old platform roof of Reggio Emilia that was removed in 1930. The roof is 22 meters long and 7 meters wide and it is supported by 4 couples of cast-iron columns.
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Our roots will forever be from here, America, born and raised. Yet, life requires us to move more frequently than we care to count. Whether living stateside or abroad, you can always find us traveling somewhere. We scout out places that you only think you can dream of one day seeing and we seek out those that aren’t found in guidebooks. We then bring them to life here in our travel memos, so hopefully, one day you too can visit them or at least be able to live vicariously through us. This blog isn’t just about crossing off places from a bucket list. It’s about absorbing and learning how other cultures grow and fit into the same world that we do. Life is short and the world is big. Enjoy and get out there!
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