The National Railway Museum of Pietrarsa
More than a hundred and fifty years of Italian railway history come to life in the marvellous workshops of Pietrarsa, Italy’s first industrial nucleus developed many years before giant companies like Breda, Fiat and Ansaldo. For a century, until the Second World War which marked their decline, the workshops played a fundamental role in the Italian railway industry, also obtaining international recognition. The last steamer to leave the historic workshops was the GR 640.088, on 2 December 1975. After the closure, the workshops were chosen to host the National Railway Museum of Pietrarsa, inaugurated on 7 October 1989, to mark the 150th anniversary of Italian railways.
Today the museum takes visitors on a fascinating journey through time among the locomotives and trains which have united Italy since 1839. A different museum, not reserved for memories of the past, nor exclusively of interest to specialists and professionals, but which attracts anyone who sees the train as an irreplaceable tool for the future of public transport. Pietrarsa is one of the symbolic sites in the history of Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane, a bridge between the past and present that perfectly blends the Bayard with the sophisticated and super fast High Speed trains.
From a more historical-architectonical viewpoint, the venue perfectly suits the intended purpose, as the museum is housed in what were originally the old Bourbon workshops founded in 1840 at the command of Ferdinand II of Bourbon, in an area first called “Pietra Bianca” and then “Pietrarsa”, following an eruption by Vesuvius whose lava reached that point of the coast.
A statue (one of largest created in cast iron in Italy), placed in the courtyard of the complex, shows King Ferdinand indicating the site where the first railway workshops of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and the entire Peninsula would be built. An inscription reminds us that the aim of the Sovran was to detach the technical and industrial development of the Kingdom from foreign intelligence.
The museum is set out over 36,000 square metres, 14,000 of which are covered. It is arranged into pavilions and sectors where material of absolute value is displayed, including: the faithful reproduction of the Bayard, the inaugural train of the first Naples Portici railway section of 1939; 25 steam locomotives; 6 electric locomotors; 12 rolling stocks including electric/diesel railcars (the so-called littorine), various types of passenger cars (postal, prisoners, centoporte rail car) including the passenger car no. 10 of the former Royal Train (today the Presidential train); 5 diesel locomotives; 25 scale models of trains/carriages/railway stations; the “Brunetti” model, better known as the “Trecentotreni” model; furniture from the waiting room of the Roma Trastevere Railway Station of 1905.
The Museum is one of Italy’s most important industrial archaeology centres and a national pole of railway culture. A unique exhibition in Italy for its individuality, the wealth of contents on show and the absolute affinity between the history of its architecture and the story it tells. The museum of Pietrarsa has entered the circuit of the main railway museums of Europe.