Riding a bicycle without haste, one Sunday morning you could find yourself on the old Spoleto – Norcia railway line. One of the last railway tracks to be designed in Italy, but also one of the last to be abandoned although it has always represented a small engineering jewel.
Called the “Umbrian Gotthard”, for some helical sections and the slope always very reduced, it was inaugurated in 1926, after thirteen years of work slowed down in part by the effects of the First World War. Designed by the Swiss Erwin Thomann, it guaranteed in two hours the coverage of a route of just over 50 kilometers on which were built 24 viaducts and 19 tunnels. To ensure the public transport service were five electromotive powered by a power of 2400 volts. The electromotive, however, suffered the attacks from the Germans during the Second World War. The history of that period inevitably marked that of this railway despite in the 1950s, it was decided to put in hand the modernization of four carriages, which were however partially damaged.
The Spoleto – Norcia railway has been closed since 1968, the rail service was replaced by the road service by decree of the Ministry of Transport after three years earlier, the Spoletan Company of Transport Companies had taken over from the old manager. Umbria Mobilità has had it under concession for fifteen years. After its safety, the old railway line is now reused as a gentle mobility route.
The Minister of Cultural Heritage has declared this path of considerable historical and artistic interest. Today the historic route is a beautiful path surrounded by nature in the green heart region of Italy. It can be covered by bicycle but also on foot or on horseback. It is easy to get distracted while crossing it from gorges, waterways, tunnels and viaducts.
Usually, we start from Spoleto, leaving the car near the highway exit that comes from Foligno. You go up slightly to the Caprareccia pass which opens to a tunnel of a couple of kilometers then goes down along the Nera valley. The track, after lined legendary waters, continues up the Valnerina and then climbs the valley of the river Corno again among characteristic medieval villages. At Norcia station you will find, today as then, the terminus of a ride, or a walk, which will have made you spend a few carefree hours in contact with the wonderful Umbrian nature!