“Blessed are the railways!” reads a book from the second half of the 1800s that describes part of the itinerary covered today by “Trenonatura”, a wonderful tourist train on the Asciano-Monte Antico line, between all the wonders of art and nature in the Orcia Valley (Val d’Orcia), in the province of Siena.
As you might expect, the book goes on to celebrate the “magnificent and progressive fate” of trains – the most popular public transportation of all times and the “most powerful [instrument] for the development of trade, culture and brotherhood between people”.
Such unconditional and positive faith in the future led the author to state, “Progress will go on, and we will go on building railways” (translated from G. Losi, “Viaggio in strada ferrata da Asciano a Grosseto”, Siena 1873)… but today, we know that “progress” would explore many other directions, with cars on newly paved streets and airplanes in the air becoming trains’ main competition.
Regular service on the Asciano-Monte Antico line stopped in 1994. But luckily those 51 kilometers of railway were never really deserted, and immediately turned into a panoramic itinerary visitors can enjoy aboard an antique steam train.
And that, for sure, is great progress.