All Posts from August, 2017

The former Porlezza-Menaggio railway

August 9th, 2017 | By Valentina Guerranti in Parco San Marco, Surroundings, To know more about | No Comments »

The town of Porlezza has always been known as a tourist resort.

In fact, we can find the first tourist information as far back as the beginning of 1800.

Between 1815 and 1915, the municipalities of the Porlezza were ruled by the Austrians. They brought great benefits to the area, building important public infrastructures such as schools, sewers, aqueducts, roads and public transport.

The latter made the area accessible to the arrival of the first tourists of the day.

Among the most important works we can find:

• Today’s road Porlezza-Menaggio (1839)

• The Porlezza-Menaggio railway (1885-1966)

• Ceresio’s boats

The second half of the 1800s corresponds with the period of rapid development of rail transport.

During this era, speed of progress saw the pathways open between regions in Central Europe with the the great Lombard lakes, exploiting the Gotthard tunnel and replacing travel on horseback with the fast-paced cars.

ferrovia menaggio-porlezza

In 1881, the Canton of Ticino inaugurated the Gotthard Railroad and from this point began to create all the Ticino links that also led to the development of line connecting Italy and Switzerland.

It was in 1872 that the project was launched to connect Lario, Ceresio and Verbano with railway lines so that the important towns of Menaggio and Luino could be connected to the city of Lugano in Italian Switzerland.

The initial project consisted of an extraordinary circular link:

Lugano – Porlezza – Como – Milan – Porto Ceresio – Lugano: for the purpose of tourism and facilitation in the exchange of goods. Unfortunately, the project was only partially implemented. The actual connections were Luino-Lugano via railway line, Lugano-Porlezza by boat and from Porlezza to Menaggio by railway.

The railroad Porlezza-Menaggio was inaugurated on Wednesday 8 October 1884 and opened for public service on Monday 17 November of the same year. This railway line was perhaps the only one in Europe because of its narrow gauge. The length of the voyage was 12 km. This was considered an extraordinary distance at the time given the distance between the two lakes. Unfortunately, a few years later, with the outbreak of World War I, the golden age of the railroad ended. In addition, with the introduction of the first buses, it was felt that these cost far less and were faster – posing serious competition to the railways. This eventually led to ministerial authorization on 31 October 1939 that ended the project on the Menaggio-Porlezza railway. After World War II, there was an attempt to revive it but it was unsuccessful.

By 2014, only a few traces of the railway survived as it has been turned into cycling tracks or exploited for the construction of some buildings. In Menaggio, the station building has been restored, while the Tavordo (Porlezza) stop is the only one remaining intact. By contrast, the Porlezza station building was demolished on March 9, 2015. Now the route of this railway has become an interesting pedestrian path for a beautiful walk between the blue lakes and the green of the mountains.

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written by Sara Camozzi