The International Steam Pages
The Naples Railway Museum
James Waite reports on a continuing journey round the lesser known of Europe's steam attractions courtesy of various budget airlines and their special offers. See also Keith Smith's report which fills in a few gaps.
For more information on railway museums and railway preservation in Italy please see the information from Stefano Paolini.
Information about preserved steam in Italy has never been easy to obtain. The Italian National Railway Museum at Pietrarsa, in the southern outskirts of Naples, always looked fascinating but had been closed for renovations for several years and it wasn’t easy to find out if it had reopened. I went there doubtful if I’d manage to get in but happily the museum had at last reopened not long previously.
The museum occupies four large buildings at the old Pietrarsa works immediately alongside Pietrarsa station on the FS line along the coast from Naples to Portici. It was the first railway in Italy, opening in 1839 and the works opened the following year. The numerous steam locos are housed in what looks like an old erecting shop with a traverser running the length of the building with numerous bays on each side. There are a few vintage electric locos there as well. Other buildings house the diesel locos, railcars and heavy engineering machinery. It’s an extensive site and the whole place is full of character. There’s a refreshing lack of extraneous signage and nearly all the locos are in FS livery – in many cases looking somewhat workstained rather than in typical sparkling museum condition.
There are 26 steam locos in the display:-
0-6-0 290.319 OM 489/1912
2-6-0T R302.19 Saronno 671/1922 950mm gauge
2-2-2 “Bayard” FS Firenze 1939, replica of
Longridge 120/1839, Italy’s first loco
The “Bayard” replica, Longridge no. 120, occupies one end of the building along with a train of early, and perhaps replica, carriages. It makes an interesting comparison with “Der Arend” in Utrecht museum, a replica of Longridge no. 119. Presumably the two original locos would have been built at the same time. Certainly they are very similar. The two narrow gauge locos both come from the extensive FS system in Sicily.
The museum opens only until 1.00pm. When I was there, in January 2008, I had the whole place pretty well to myself though no doubt it’s busier in the summer. I hired a car – a nerve racking experience given the narrow streets in much of Naples and the near-suicidal habits of other drivers and scooter-riders. There’s a good service of local trains to the station alongside the museum. The ruins of Herculaneum, one of the Roman cities overwhelmed in the Vesuvius eruption of 79AD, are about 2km down the coast and were also almost deserted at this time of the year. Pompeii, a much larger site, is about 15km away to the south east.
Several locos of the same classes as those in the museum are kept in working order in various parts of the country. Nonetheless the museum is well worth a visit both for the atmospheric buildings in which it is housed and just to see so many locos together in a genuine railway environment.
This is one side of the building...
The “Bayard” replica:
An unknown (unlabelled) exhibit!
R370.023 (rack locomotive)
741.137 showing the Crosti chimney.