10 Things You Didn’t Know About the “Railway of Marvels”

They call it the “Railway of Marvels” for a reason: here are 10 wonders you might not know about. 

From the Alps to the sea, from Piedmont to Liguria: the Cuneo-Ventimiglia Railway is an extraordinary infrastructure that crosses not only the territory but also history and culture. Now, after the interruption due to the damage caused by Storm Alex between October 2nd and 3rd, 2020, it has since been reactivated and will continue to take Ligurians to the snow and Piedmontese to the sea. 

Want to know more? Here are 10 good reasons to discover it: 


  1. Crosses Three Borders:It starts in Italy, crosses a border with France at Airole, and then returns to Italy after the Colle di Tenda.

    Ferrovia Val Roja - Airole
    Ferrovia Val Roja – Airole (IM)
  2. From the Mediterranean to the Alps: Overcoming slopes of 26% and reaching a maximum height of 1040m above sea level at the Colle di Tenda gallery. 
  3. Extraordinary Civil Engineering Work: The route is 96km long, with 16 stations and 81 tunnels.
  4. Vernante Tunnel is Helical: The tunnel spirals like a caterpillar inside the mountain for about 1500m, gaining 32m in altitude. 
  5. Record-breaking Scarassoui Viaduct: Built with pre-stressed reinforced concrete, spanning 84m. 
  6. The Route Connects Incredible Natural Beauties: From the depths of the Ligurian Sea, Sanctuary of Cetaceans, to the forests of Val Vermenagna where wolves have returned. An exciting journey from Nemo’s surroundings to those of Heidi. 

    Olivetta San Michele (foto FAI)
    Among the Olive fields of San Michele (IM) (foto FAI)
  7. Crosses Culturally and Scenically Important Areas: Such as Val Roya, steep and wild, which amazed Francesco Petrarca and Ugo Foscolo, the Valle delle Meraviglie, a beautiful park in French territory, and Briga, whose territory hosts the Brigasca community, a minority whose language, culture, and traditions are recognised by the European Community. 
  8. Crosses the Border of History: At the time of its design, the entire route of the line was entirely in Italy, but later many of the places crossed were ceded to France: Nice and part of Val Roya in 1860, Briga and Tenda after the Second World War in 1947. 
  9. Project Presented by Camillo Benso di Cavour: In 1853, the project for its construction was presented by Camillo Benso di Cavour. However, construction on the Piedmontese side began only in 1882, with the section to Limone becoming operational in 1891. The turning point in the infrastructure’s realisation was in 1904, with the signing of the agreement between Italy and France, establishing that each of the two nations would build, for its competent section, the remaining stretch between Vievola and Ventimiglia, as well as the link between Breil-sur-Roya and Nice.
  10. Recent Recognitions: In recent years, it has received well-deserved recognition, such as the German magazine Hörzu ranking it ninth among the ten most beautiful railway lines in the world in 2016.

    La Ferrovia delle Meraviglie
    La Ferrovia delle Meraviglie

The Cuneo-Ventimiglia Railway won the tenth edition of Luoghi del Cuore Fai,” ranking first in Italy with 75,586 votes. The FAI contribution of 50,000 euros will enhance its social and environmental value through a joint France-Italy project. 

That’s why they call it the “Railway of Marvels“! 

Info: https://fondoambiente.it