If a filming project could ever be described as a romantic marathon, this 'Italian Job' was certainly that. 7,000 miles in seven weeks took our film crew from the Brenner and Simplon Passes to the very tip of Sicily and back through Sardinia. Milan, Florence, Rome, Pisa, Bari, Catania and Cagliari are all included with some of the famous sights that provide such a unique backcloth of Italian Railways.
Lines of very different character circumnavigate Vesuvius and Etna. Railways cling to the Adriatic and Tirreno coastlines. The very latest standard gauge trains jostle for space on the screen with narrow gauge vehicles of great charm and antiquity.
From its beginnings in 1839 Italian railways developed as a hotch-potch of private companies. The Italian State Railways were formed in 1905 and the new organisation rapidly began to pioneer three-phase electrification, the remnants of which are visible today.
Some of the later scenes filmed for this programme have been swept away by the process of modernisation, so this programme is of historical significance. Whilst the ancient is pandered to the modern is not forgotten. The high speed train with tilting device, the Pendolino makes an appearance as does The Gotthardo and the Settebello.
It is the extraordinary private railways that add so much to this programme. It's impossible to mention them all but the selection includes the grandly named La Ferroviaria Italiana which has just 84 kilometres of track, the narrow gauge Ferrovie del Sud Est, the rack railway from Catanzaro to Cosenza, the amazing Ferrovie Pedane and the wonderful railways of Sicily and Sardinia.
The islands have a character entirely their own. The narrow gauge line around Etna is worth a programme on its own and the tiny railcars that ply the 324 kilometres of the Ferrovie Complementari della Sardegna scuttle along through stunning scenery.
Running time 1 hour.
FOR FULL COVERAGE OF THE LATTER SYSTEM - SEE THE RAILWAYS OF SARDINIA.