We went home from our great train adventure on the Bernina Express a different route, via the Centrovalli Railway. The Centovalli Railway line runs between Locarno, Switzerland and Domodossola, Italy. It is operated by the FART (the Ferrovie Autolinee Regionali Ticinesi). Seriously, our tickets said FART on them. We couldn’t help but giggle when we read FART on our tickets. Apparently there is a 8 year-old boy in each of us.
We took the FART mainly to get from point A to point B with a different view. It took a few train changes to get from Luganoto Locarno, but it was worth it. The train ride was a pleasant and scenic, if hair-raising, surprise. It was a remarkable two-hour, 52 km trip through the mountains.
The panoramic train hugs the mountain through deep gorges, cascading waterfalls, past vineyards and forests. It is billed as the one hundred picturesque valleys. We didn’t count to see if there were actually 100 of them, but the number can’t be far off.
When I said the trains hug the mountains, I wasn’t kidding. The trains wind their way through the forested mountains, through mountain tunnels, across precarious bridges, over viaducts that tower over ravines. There is a 17 km stretch near the Italian border where the train goes through 22 tunnels and over 7 bridges. While that part is particularly exciting, the whole thing is pretty darn cool.
The railway was built in 1923. Many of the towns along the way don’t appear to have changed much over the years. Notable views along the way include:
- The photogenic village of Intragna tucked into the rugged mountains, Its 65m steeple of its bell-tower is the most recognizable sight.
- Santa Maria Maggiore is the highest point of the line at 830m (2720 feet) above sea level.
- The Verzasca Valley where the river has been dammed to form a lake. You can actually see the Verzasca dam.
In 1978, the railway was severely damaged by floods. Thankfully, they were able to rebuild it and no one was injured.
By the way, you can connect to trains headed to Milan, Bern, Basel or Geneva from Domodossola.
- Switzerland’s Panoramic Train, The Bernina Express (schwingeninswitzerland.wordpress.com)
- The Bernina Express Out Of The Alps And Into Sunny Italy (schwingeninswitzerland.wordpress.com)
- Epic Ride Through The Alps On The Bernina Express (Part Two) (schwingeninswitzerland.wordpress.com)
- An Interesting Bus Ride To Lugano (schwingeninswitzerland.wordpress.com)