SARDINIA’S GREEN TRAIN

From Palau to Tempio Pausania, the green train is a journey that passes through some of the most stunning areas of Sardinia.

“The beauty of speed”. This was one of the points on the manifesto of futurism. One could spend a lot of time discussing the political and cultural implications of a movement that was the innovator of some points and the contradiction of others, but one aspect, however, can be agreed upon. The world was changing. Much was said about modernity, avant-garde and painting just as the cinema had tried to portray it on several occasions. The dynamism of new means of transport such as the car, always fascinated twentieth-century artists. The car, and, more than anything else, the train, were objects on which they often focused to represent the idea of movement on canvas. One only has to think of the locomotive pulling into the station at La Ciotat, one of the Lumiere brothers’ first actions, which officially led to the birth of the cinema. That silver-coloured steam train depicted in that short film is no longer the same. It has grown up, adapting to modern times. And not only in shape. What is especially different is the energy it uses which is no longer coal (or diesel). It is now electricity which, thanks to latest generation models, allows us to travel from Milan to Rome in under three hours.

In this long journey towards innovation, the train still has an extraordinary historical value. A prime example is one of the routes that Arzachena and its surrounding areas have managed to maintain and promote in respect of the environment and nature. The journey, which goes from Palau to Tempio Pausania, is one of 5 services offered by Sardinia’s green train which has been connecting the island’s coastal zone with its inland areas for 130 years. With this means of transport, tourists can travel to some of the most fascinating villages in the territory, following a route that has remained intact since its construction. No high speed; no exclusive seats or first-class compartment. Basically, it is a slowing down experience in which to breathe a totally different air. All thanks to a unique tourist railway network covering a distance of 438 km unlike any other in Europe.
Going into the details of the route in north-east Sardinia, what is striking is the area’s incredible morphological variation. The trip starts at sea level (Palau) and ends 500 metres higher at Tempio after a total of 59 kilometres. The trip can also be made the other way around, going towards the Mediterranean. Those who cannot use these two stations can still take advantage of the service by boarding at one of the various stops at Arzachena, Sant’Antonio, Lake Liscia, Calangianus, Luras and Nuchis.

From Palau, passengers can admire all the beauty that the panorama has to offer, from the crystal-clear sea of Maddalena, to a dense Mediterranean scrub surrounded by various rocky shapes such as Capo d’Orso. At Arzachena, one can also discover the Prisgiona archaeological area and the giants’ tomb at Coddu Vecchiu, dating back to the Bronze Age. After passing through the fresco of colours and lush vegetation at Lake Liscia, the train arrives in Calangianus, famous for granite processing and cork. The last stop, Tempio Pausania, offers some fine particulars such as the station itself, in Liberty style, with art works by painter Giuseppe Biasi on display in the waiting room and relics in the Railway Workshop Museum. (Riccardo Lo Re)