"CATANZARO - THE LOWER END OF THE LINE" Marina di Catanzaro by AsturArcadia

Marina di Catanzaro Travel Guide: 0 reviews and 3 photos

Around the toe

(Continued from 'Catanzaro' page)

From Catanzaro, the non-electrified, single track FS line from Lido provides a short cut across to the Tirreno coast at Lamezia. Just north of Catanzaro station the railway enters a long tunnel, burrowing under the Fiumarella valley and the high ridge that lies to the west, emerging into the parallel Corace valley. There is a further longish bore under the low divide separating the waters flowing east to the Mare Jonico from those heading west into the Tirreno. The line clings to the northern slopes overlooking the vast Piano di S. Eufemia, serving the sprawling Sambiase/Nicastro conurbation. Engineering work on this route, in readiness for clockface timetables operated using Minuetti, meant that in the first part of 2006 there was quite a bit of bustitution, some scheduled, some ad hoc, even at peak hours, when there is plentiful schools traffic. The buses get snarled up in the traffic jams in Simbiase and Nicastro, and there is no way they can keep to the train timings!

The immediate surrounds of the FC station in Lido di Catanzaro are uninspiring to say the least. A busy main road, a garage, a run-down trattoria with a doleful dog sat outside. The single track, non-electrified FS line from Taranto to Reggio di Calabria runs at right angles to the 950 mm gauge, about 200 m distant, and invisible behind the long station building, which in spring 2006 was being extensively refurbished in readiness for the arrival of the Minuetti and start-up of regular-interval services along the Jonico coast. But there is a girder footbridge over the tracks, and once on the far side of this, one is in a different world, with a busy little piazza, shops, bars, a couple of restaurants and the seafront promenade merely a stone’s throw distant.

If you enjoy scenery on just one side of the train, then the run down the coast to Melito di Porto Salvo is tailor-made for you. Inland the dry, bleak slopes rise to over a thousand metres in places. There are a few rocky headlands which the railway pierces. Occasionally a line of holiday dwellings, or a field or two, separate the line from the beach. But otherwise the route lies right on the shore of the Mare Jonico, and as the train approaches Capo Spartivento (the ancient Heracleum Promontorium) it is usually possible to spot a number of vessels following the shipping lane round the ‘toe’ of Italy. Melito itself, a drab little resort with a grid-iron street pattern, is in fact the southernmost settlement on the Italian mainland, and – surprise – there are a number of Greek-speaking communities in this area.

At the time of my visit in May 2006 the line beyond Melito to Pellaro was being rebuilt, doubled and electrified, for an intensive local service. Track and catenary were in place as far west as the 1987 tunnel (1000 m long) under Capo dell’Armi, but after that there was just ballast for a kilometre or so, and then a linear construction site where the trackbed was still being widened. The replacement buses ran half hourly, and were scheduled so that they had to squeeze past each other in the narrow, congested streets of one of the intermediate villages, an extremely cautious manoeuvre involving the tucking in of side mirrors and fomenting ire among the wretched motorists stuck behind them. In southern Italy one can vent one’s ire without fear of being consider4ed a social pariah! On a clear day there are good views of the Monti Peloritani just across the strait in Sicilia.

The coast is almost continuously urbanised all the way from Pellaro, through the ports of Reggio di Calabria and Villa San Giovanni to Cannitello, at the northern end of the Stretto di Messina. Then commences a stretch of railway whose construction must have been both very difficult and very costly. The mountains droip almost sheer to the north-facing coast, which remains in gloomy shadow for much of the day except in high summer. Between Cannitello and Taureana there are 15 tunnels and two landslide shelters. Some of the tunnels are twin single track bores; the line was doubled at a later date.

(Continued on 'Gioia Tauro' page)

The mountains then recede, to create a great natural bowl facing the sea to the northwest. The line descends into the port of Gioia Tauro, which is the home of FC’s second 950 mm gauge network – and a remarkable survivor it is too at the dawn of the 21st century!

  • Last visit to Marina di Catanzaro: May 2006
  • Intro Updated Feb 6, 2009
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