Ferrovia dei Parchi allows you to go back in time traveling as our grandparents did. Where? In Abruzzo! The historic train leaves from Sulmona to embark on a suggestive panoramic route between the mountain passes towards the slopes of the Maiella and the Altipiani Maggiori d’Abruzzo, reaching 1300 meters and facing a tortuous route to be able to climb avoiding the considerable slopes on the route.
On board the Italian Trans-Siberian
During the journey, the train travels through landscapes of breathtaking beauty with panoramas that include peaks of almost 3000 meters in height such as that of the Corno Grande del Gran Sasso on one side and the snow-capped Maiella on the other, among rich natural sceneries of plant biodiversity and a wildlife that includes rare animals such as wolves and bears. We have not seen them but a big deer has delighted us with its evolution between rocks and shrubs!
But it’s not just the splendid places that pass through the windows that enchant those traveling on Ferrovia dei Parchi train, also called Transiberiana d’Italia. What makes the panoramic route exciting is above all the awareness of taking a dive into the past through the stories of the volunteers of the Le Rotaie association.
In our carriage, the good Erika involved everyone by talking about this route in the heart of Abruzzo on which only the historic train of Ferrovia dei Parchi now circulates, with its perfectly restored Centoporte and Corbellini carriages from the 1930s and 1950s.
A historic route, once very popular, which was inaugurated on 18 September 1897 and which has represented an important connection between the Adriatic and Tyrrhenian Seas for over a century. Even today it is considered a true masterpiece of railway engineering which runs along a tortuous route, with gradients of up to 28%, from 328 meters above sea level in Sulmona to 1,268 at the Rivisondoli-Pescocostanzo station, up to Castel di Sangro.
Destroyed between 1943 and 1944 by the Germans, it was rebuilt after the war, circulating until 1974 thanks to steam locomotives which were then replaced by diesel railcars, halving journey times. Closed in 2011 due to high running costs and reduced traffic, the Transiberiana was reopened thanks to an agreement between the Fondazione FS, which restored the suspended railway lines and recovered them to a new tourist vocation with the «Tracks without Time» project, the Pallenium travel agency and Le Rotaie, an association for the promotion of railway culture made up of volunteers that organizes tours and events on the line to tell its history and landscapes.
We got into the carriage with our Otto in Sulmona and, crossing enchanted landscapes, we circumnavigated Pettorano sul Gizio, one of the most beautiful villages in Italy and the country of origin of pizzelle, the typical sweets we tell you about in Buongusto.
The train continued towards Campo di Giove and then, running on viaducts with stone arches and inside tunnels dug into the rock, crossing the Majella Park and the Abruzzo National Park, it stopped at the Palena station on the Forchetta pass, at 1,257 meters above sea level.
Here we got off and took a stroll among the stands with local delicacies and to have a coffee between one cuddle and another, not much appreciated by Otto in truth, by the four Abruzzo shepherds who wander among the travelers hoping for a bite . The Municipality station in the province of Chieti is the second highest in Italy after that of Brennero and was also chosen as a film set to shoot some scenes of the film “Doctor Zhivago”, a famous masterpiece by David Lean.
Back on board the Ferrovia dei Parchi we were able to admire the enchanting scenery of the Altopiano di Quarto Santa Chiara before reaching Roccaraso, a famous ski resort, passing through Rivisondoli-Pescocostanzo where the Ferrovia dei Parchi reaches the highest point of its route at almost 1,270 metres, to then continue through the Highlands of Abruzzo.
During the journey towards the Sangro valley we were delighted by the rhythms of L’Allegra Compagnia Musicale and at this point Otto began to “sing” accompany the musicians: the news passed from wagon to wagon so much that he became as famous as the singing dog that many passengers have come to know in person in our carriage!
The most panoramic route in Italy stops at Castel di Sangro where we arrived at 1pm, just in time for lunchtime. And we certainly could not fail to honor the strong dishes of the local cuisine, from pallotte cacio e ova to lamb chops to conclude with grilled pecorino cheese with honey and walnuts.
The village, which develops between the Sangro river and the Civita, the highest and oldest district, allows for beautiful walks starting from Piazza Plebiscito and going up towards the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta characterized by two twin side bell towers and a fifteenth-century loggia recovered from the previous one medieval church.
At 5.00 pm back in the carriage on board the Ferrovia dei Parchi which ends its tour in Sulmona a couple of hours later.
Departures are made every Saturday and Sunday and on other holidays: the calendar with all the details can be consulted on the official website www.ferroviadeiparchi.it.
WHERE TO SLEEP
Via Nolfese, Madonna di Loreto – Bugnara
Tel. +39 0864 46463 – email@example.com
The hotel, comfortable with ample green space, is located 7.2 kilometers from Sulmona station and is the only one of those offered in the Ferrovia dei Parchi travel packages that allows pets.
WHERE TO EAT
Via Numicia – Castel di Sangro
Phone +39 0864 841093
In collaboration with Ferrovia dei Parchi