The Slow Food Train in Abruzzo

There’s a striking railway journey that connects the Abruzzo province with neighbouring Molise. This journey is named the TranSiberiana d’Italia due to the evocative and remote scenery of the trip which crosses the Appenines, covered in snow much of the year.

Historic towns, railway stations, mountains, valleys and plains of wild beauty are traversed on a formerly-abandoned railway line. The journeys are organised in major part by the ‘Amici della Ferrovia – Le Rotaie Molise‘ a volunteer organisation created to preserve old trains, promote train modelling, and since 2014, carry tourists on historic routes with themed journeys. Collaboration with the Foundazione FS Italiane (the Italian rail foundation) ensures the train line stays alive.

In 2015, Le Rotaie Molise was awarded a GoSlow prize from Co.Mo.Do (Confederazione Mobilità Dolce) – ‘comodo’ translates as ‘comfortable’ –  an organisation that aims to promote a national ‘soft mobility network’ through the recovery of abandoned land infrastructure such as railways, roadways, embankments and historical paths.

I was fortunate to acquire a ticket to ride on the Slow Food themed train journey from Sulmona to Roccaraso, which is about half of the potential journey to Isernia, Molise.  All of this trip was within Abruzzo.

Click to enlarge, scroll and read captions.

The journey began at 9am when we met and departed from Sulmona Station. We returned to Sulmona just before 7pm. In between, we made five station stops along the way. At each there was a degustation of artisan-produced foods such as cheese from cow, goat or sheep milk; various honeys; traditionally produced and preserved salami; peperoni dolci – sweet peppers; truffles; artisanal beer; porchetta from the black pig, seasoned with fennel and farro; wines of the Peligna Valley; genziana, a locally made amaro (bitter liqueur)  of the Gentian root; various local sweet treats; and polenta.

The train was from the 1930s and had old wooden seats. The trains were used during the 30s and 40s to transport soldiers and supplies. But comfort didn’t matter; the views along the way were breathtaking and I spent little time in my seat, always trying to grab a good photo of the passing beauty. Most of the journey passed through the Parco Nazionale della Majella (Majella National Park).

On board were volunteers of the Amici della Ferrovia to explain anything we wanted to know about the journey or the train. Also on board were volunteers of the Peligna Slow Food convivium to tell us more about the territory we would pass through and what foods were historically (and still) produced in each zone. The passion for all things slow was clearly visible with a large crew of volunteers on hand at the stations as well. The volunteers I spoke with were so proud of their land and traditions, and rightfully so.

The photos below show the scenery, the people and some of the foods encountered along the way.

Click to enlarge, scroll and read captions.

If you are planning a trip to the Abruzzo or Molise provinces, check with the Amici della Ferrovia–Le Rotaie Molise and join one of their journeys. Each train ride is different and station stops vary according to theme. A journey’s theme could be artisan beer, local wine, or Christmas. Some trips simply celebrate the art and culture of various villages (borghi) along the route. Even if the train didn’t stop, the territory is unbelievably grand as it passes through Italy’s green heart.

The current calendar of journeys can be found on the Le Rotaie Molise site here. Or send an email Le Rotaie Molise on info@lerotaie.com. Their English is, well, better than my Italian…

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12 Comments

  1. What a great day trip! My paese, Orsara di Puglia is very involved with the slow food movement and eating ‘a km 0’. I hope they organize something like this too. I live old trains, and th Stazione di Orsara is hardly even used now. It’s sad really. Ciao, Cristina

    • Absolutely yes Andrea. You may share. Thanks for visiting my site.

      I’ve been a bit remiss with posting lately but have a few more up my sleeve… I just checked out your blog too and I like it! Will follow your adventures. I just love Ascoli Piceno and noticed your post. My grandparents came from across the border in Abruzzo. What’s the Slow Food blog for Auckland? I’d love to check it out too. There are a few slow Food praesidium here in South Australia too: http://www.slowfoodsouthaustralia.com.au/about-us/about-slow-food-sa/.

      Ciao for now, Mary Louise Tucker (aka Lou)

    • I’ve updated the link to the train schedule. I had the link pointing to the 2016 timetable but now have the link going to the home page. The timetable for 2017 is clearly displayed there. Kudos go to the SlowFood group from the Vale Peligna for getting onboard and explaining everything for those who were interested. I’m not fluent in Italian but I understood everything and was able to ask questions. https://www.facebook.com/CondottaPeligna/timeline.

  2. apollard says:

    Hi Mary Louise, thankyou for letting me share. It will be a January post as I am working on a summer reading series which will include my visit to the Terra Madre Salone del gusto conference in Torino in September 16. Here is the facebook page and blog. https://www.facebook.com/slowfoodwaitakere/
    http://slowfoodwaitakere.blogspot.co.nz/. So nice to meet you! My slow food Auckland leader is currently in Australia meeting Aussie slow fooders near Canberra! Would you let me know your Slow Food facebook page, I’d love to see what you all get up to. 🙂 Buon natale.

  3. apollard says:

    Reblogged this on Sweet Travel and commented:
    To wrap up this January series of posts about my experiences in Italy at the Slow Food conference, I thought I would share another perspective. Mary Louise Tucker has kindly allowed me to share this post of hers which describes an outing she enjoyed in Italy that was arranged by her local Slow Food convivium. It is a fabulous read and a fabulous outing and demonstrates Slow Food in action Italian style!

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