the first italian railway 180 years ago

inauguration of the Naples-Portici railway in 1840 painted in the framework of the artist Salvarore Fergola
inauguration of the Naples-Portici railway in 1840 painted in the framework of the artist Salvarore Fergola

On 3 October 1839 the first Italian railway line was opened, which connected Naples to the nearby town of Portici, it was 7 km long.


180 years ago!


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The construction of the Napoli-Portici was entrusted to the French engineer Armando Giuseppe Bayard de la Vingtrie, who had exhibited his project three years earlier to Ferdinand II of Bourbon, king of the then Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The project involved connecting Naples to Nocera Inferiore with a branch to Castellammare. The work, directed by Bayard, began on 8 August 1838 and after thirteen months the first single-track section was completed, to which a second track was added before the inauguration.

On the day of the inauguration the king preceded the convoy and was found in the villa del Carrione at the Granatello di Portici, from which at noon he gave the starting signal to the locomotive, pronouncing this speech: “This path will surely benefit trade and considering how this new road should be of use to my people, much more I enjoy in my thought that, once the works are finished up to Nocera and Castellammare, I can soon see them proceeded to Avellino to the shore of the Adriatic Sea ». The convoy, consisting of eight wagons, took about ten minutes to travel 7.25 kilometers. On board there were 48 guests as well as a representation of the royal army made up of 60 officers, 30 infantry, 30 artillerymen and 60 sailors. In the last car there was the band of the royal guard.

The wagons were built in Naples, in the San Giovanni plant in Teduccio, while the steam locomotive, called “Vesuvio”, was bought by the British company Longridge Starbuck and Co. of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. In the forty days following the inauguration, 85,759 passengers traveled on the Naples-Portici line. On 1 August 1842 the railway was enlarged reaching Castellammare di Stabia, on 20 December 1843 the Naples-Caserta section was inaugurated and a year later the train arrived in Pompei and Nocera. In the following years also in the other Italian kingdoms the construction of the first railway sections was started, and at the time of the Unification of Italy there were about 2 thousand kilometers of railway tracks throughout the country.


180th anniversary of the first italian railroad inauguration Google Doodle

At this event Google today dedicates its “doodle” the image that appears from time to time instead of the logo on the search engine homepage.

the inauguration of the first Italian railway line 180 years ago from Naples to Portici 7 km long