• Lifestyle

A journey through time on Lombardy's historic trains

Boarding Lombardy's historic trains - be it a puffing steam engine, a railcar, or an electric or diesel train - and taking a seat in a carriage dating back to the 50s and 60s - provides a fine experience of sustainable, slow-paced tourism.

 

The unique pleasure of trundling along timeless tracks on vintage trains, catching sight through the train windows of old hamlets, hills and landscapes immersed in the countryside surrounding the ancient railway lines, and stopping in Lombardy's historic stations, proves the truth of the saying "it is not the destination that counts, but the journey". 

 

Lombardy's historic trains: before departure
Described as a collection of "mobile history museums", the heritage fleet kept and maintained by Italy's FS Foundation includes over 400 rail-bound vehicles (150 of which are operational), including steam engines, railcars and carriages from various eras. Under the "Binari senza Tempo" ("Timeless Tracks") project, 10 abandoned railway lines have been restored, providing ideal routes for trips you can book here.  But that's not all: you can now rent one of the FS Foundation's trains to celebrate your birthday on board!

The Italian Tourist Railways association (FTI) also helps promote railway culture by managing Lombardy's passenger tourist service on the FBS-Ferrovia del Basso Sebino and FTC-Ferrovia Turistica Camuna lines, in collaboration with the Italian State Railways (FS) and local authorities. You can check the travel calendar here.    

And now, all aboard Lombardy's historic trains! Departures in November and December 2021.    

 

A historic train bound for a railway history exhibition
For train enthusiasts - and everyone else too - the date to save is November 27th: on that day, the Historic Train will depart from Milan Central Station and head for the m.a.x. Museum in Chiasso, where the exhibition "Trains in art, graphics and design" will be held. The exhibition will focus on the railway's economic, societal and cultural role and feature authentic historical posters, brochures, postcards, menus, calendars, almanacs, vintage photographs and objects designed for the train.    

The trip will take place aboard an electric train equipped with historic carriages of the 45000 series, with DZ luggage and mail compartment, which entered service in 1959. Their defining features included new bogies for speeds of 160 kmh, two toilet rooms, upholstered sofas and electrically heated 8-seater compartments, including in "sleeper" and "diner" configurations.

 

Travelling from Milan to Trento's Christmas market
Departure is on 5 and 8 December, again from Milan Central Station: the vintage train will head to the Christmas market in the town of Trento, at the foot of Mount Bondone, already fully immersed in the magical atmosphere of Christmas. Accompanied by guides of the Italian Tourist Railways association, you will be able not only to enjoy the market, hosted in Trento's squares for 30 years now, but also take a trip on an electric train equipped with carriages of the 45000 UIC-X series, dating back to the 50s and 60s and featuring a luggage compartment. 

Built from 1964 onwards, these carriages make up the largest family of passenger cars in the FS fleet. Among the innovations: fan heating system, fluorescent lights, 6-seater compartments, reclining seats, slate-grey livery for the carriages, red velvet upholstery in 1st class compartments and sky-blue in 2nd.

The enticing routes of the historic Sebino Express train
On November 20, be ready to board the historic train of the FS Sebino Express Foundation, connecting Milan with Paratico Sarnico, for the Lombard leg of the Historic Train Routes project, promoted by the Ministry of Tourism in partnership with the FS Foundation, Albatravel and Gambero Rosso. The project combines vintage train travel with the rediscovery of Italy's scenic, cultural and  gastronomic treasures. 

The vintage steam and electric engine, with Centoporte carriages from the 1930s, Corbellini carriages (1948-1963) and luggage compartment, will depart from Milan Central Station and head in the direction of Bergamo and the south-east bank of Sebino Lake, reaching the twin municipalities of Paratico and Sarnico, set on opposite sides of the lake.

 

From the Valtellina valley to Switzerland, aboard the red Bernina train 
With destination Saint Moritz, Switzerland, the red Bernina train begins its journey from its Italian terminus in Tirano (Sondrio), Lombardy - the only Italian stop on the Rhaetian railway line. Built in 1910, it's the highest railway in Europe (reaching as high as 2,253 metres above sea level) and runs through the splendid landscapes of the Valtellina valley, which contributed to it being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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