Pietrarsa’s Treasures

The Museum’s collection 


Custodian of Italian Rail’s past

The National Railway Museum of Pietrarsa, with its unique collection of engines and heritage carriages, cares for an important part of the history of Italy’s industrial development. The museum is itself housed in what were the Bourbon workshops where the very first Italian engines were assembled.

Pietrarsa though is not just geared to conserving the past, it is a place of discovery, offering inclusive and interactive  tours. It is a true cultural hub where meetings and events can also be hosted in our conference centre.

The King’s Carriage

In the 1920s Fiat was commissioned to build a new hi-tech train for the King and his family to use on their journeys. The new Royal Train was  presented in 1929 and consisted of three carriages, one for the Queen, one for the King (which was lost during World War II)and a dinning carriage.

Renowned architect Giulio Casanova designed the three interiors which, as the one in the museum’s care shows, were sumptuous to say the least.

With the demise of the monarchy, alterations were carried out and any references to the royal household or the fascist regime were removed.

This is how the new presidential train, presented in 1948, came in to being. The convoy consisted of a drawing room Sz1, once the Queen’s apartment, to which three new carriages were added and lastly the sumptuous drawing room Sz10 which itself was once the dinning room on the Royal Train and is now on display at Pietrarsa.

Train travel in the early 1900s

There was a time when motorcars were for the privileged few and train travel was the only way to cross the country. Before the advent of the “Littorine” motor coaches, steam billowing engines with wooden benches and packed carriages such as the legendary “Terrazzini“ and ” Centoporte” were used.

The “Littorine” motor coaches made their first appearance in the 1930s when the new Littoria Station (now known as Latina Station) was inaugurated. The earliest motor coaches were built by Fiat and were quite curvaceous with low hanging fairings and rounded fenders. Its curved and aerodynamic nose housed the radiator. Its ample windows flooded the interior with light, where unholstered seating and luggage racks lit by florescent lamps could be found.

Innovation in engine history

The development of steam power and of the railways in general brought about fast and comfortable travel for both people and goods over long distances  and it came about over just a few decades. The first early trials to use steam as a mean of pulling vehicles happened during the Industrial Revolution. These efforts saw the dawn of when steam engines combined with mechanical might began to replace animals for backbreaking tasks. The first “modern” engine was called the Rocket and was designed by George Stephenson together with his son Robert. The Vesuvio engine, built by Longridge in England ran along the first line in Italy, the Naples-Portici which was inaugurated in 1839.

Steam engines continued to be build well into the second half of the twentieth century were continually enhanced in size and power. In spite of this, it became clear that steam engines would need to be replaced as they were no longer the most cost effective option. Electric engines provided the solution as early as the end of the nineteenth century. It took until the first decade of the twentieth century before diesel engines become reliable and cost-effective enough to become a viable alternative.

“Trecento Treni” Model Railway

The “Trecento Treni” model railway is displayed In the “Cathedral”, so named because of its pointed arches. The model spans over 40 m2 and is a replica of Florence’s Santa Maria Novella Station and Bologna Central from where the tracks continue into the hills. It was once housed in Rome’s Termini Station and now that it has been restored and is fully working again it brings joy to young and old alike.