Railway World

A child who loved trains...

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Rummaging through the old photos buried in the memories of the hard disks, this image of the small station in my town, Collecchio, came back into my hands, with the flowers and the warm shades of the late afternoon. Now that spring is upon us again, this photo made me go back in time, to the scents and colors of...

360° Wagoon


A 360° spherical photograph on the train from Parma to Pontremoli, taken one evening after returning from work. The little bike you see in the picture is mine!

The photographic story of a beautiful day spent along a secondary railway line, in the heart of the Po Valley. A historic steam-powered train runs along the stretch from Belgioioso and Codogno, in the Lodi area. The locomotive is a 625, called "Miss" due to its relatively compact size and graceful lines.

Who has never played with a toy train at least once in their life, as a child? It is one of those machines that fascinate, especially the old steam locomotives, these enormous beasts that look like living dragons, they snort, breathe, spit and run quickly towards distant horizons: beautiful, powerful and scary at the same time. Even today when I take the train to go to the office in the morning, I see many grandparents accompanying their grandchildren to see the train, and the train drivers play along, greeting the little ones with their trumpets. My grandfather also took me to see the train, and today I always smile when I see these scenes. Then there are the pathological cases: as a boy I used to ride a scooter imagining I was driving a train, I had dotted my village with stops, every corner was a city, I had a piece of paper in my pocket with all the stops, and I was the express train, when I made all the stops (now it would be called "regional"), and a direct route when instead I ran straight to the terminus!

Then you grow up, at least it usually happens that way, and these things are forgotten, but there are also those who carry with them throughout their lives the things that thrilled them as a child, and these things turn into passions. I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing, but either way, I still like trains, and I like traveling by train, even if it's just for ten minutes a day to go to the city. Yes, I know, I'm a bit strange, but every time I leave home and leave the car in the garage, I feel better, I prefer to move on foot, by train or by bicycle: it's a form of freedom! Of course the train doesn't take you where you want, but only to the nearest station, and it decides the times, so where is the freedom you say!? Meanwhile, we are lucky enough to live in a country that has a very extensive railway network, even if we have lost and are losing many pieces! In fact, the car is a symbol of freedom and emancipation in the modern collective imagination, but if you pay attention, man does not know how to appreciate freedom, he yearns for it when he doesn't have it, and he doesn't know how to make good use of it. I use it when I have it, I don't know how to valorise and exploit it. Often the freed slave is missing his chains. Sometimes I have doubts, perhaps freedom is not what we need, perhaps we need limits, difficulties to overcome, motivations. I also see it in the little things around me, even in the field of photography. The car has become a cumbersome, polluting, stressful and expensive burden: traffic, restricted traffic zones, taxes, parking, fines, inspections, summer tyres, winter tyres, mechanics, accidents, insurance.... a presence that is too intrusive in our lives! I feel much freer when I go out "lightly", just on my legs, or at most with my bicycle, when I have timetables to respect, when I have to pedal, and therefore work hard, to get where I have to go! Perhaps to become truly free again, we must take a step back, we must make our life simpler, rather than complicating it with many, too many contraptions, we must return to simplicity. I realized that time spent in the car is life time wasted uselessly, but time spent on a bicycle or train is not, it is time that I live and enjoy minute by minute. I am certainly privileged, not everyone can do it, but it is important that everyone finds a way to free themselves from their chains, or to find satisfactory ones! We perhaps also have a distorted vision of life, we consider "comfort" as a value, as a measure of the quality of life, but I think that the purpose of life is not to work as little as possible!

I started from a child playing with a toy train, to talk about freedom and the purpose of life, what a journey!!! But let's go back to real journeys, those on the tracks, in these pages I have combined my passion for photography with my curiosity for trains. There are railway lines that are very suggestive, often a railway contributes to building a historical and cultural landscape, there are tracks that tell of a pioneering era, which show how human artifices can combine harmoniously with the natural landscape: a track running towards the horizon, seemingly towards infinity, or towards the unknown, is always a very evocative image. The legendary Bernina railway immediately comes to mind, a railway spectacle that allows trains to respectfully cross villages and natural landscapes of great beauty, but the railway line from Aulla to Castelnuovo Garfagnana is also a work of admirable engineering.

In these pages I will try to bear witness to all this, to talk about the life that runs on the tracks, to tell of historic machines which, thanks to armies of volunteers and enthusiasts, can still be seen chugging along in our countryside today. This is also what photography is for: to remember, to relive, to know, to defend, to spread, to arouse curiosity, to excite.

My photo albums about railway world

A gallery of railway vehicles

If you are interested in the world of trains and want to see something interesting or take part in some interesting event, on the website of this association you will find a whole series of very useful links.

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Free Wild Spirit - You will never have me - by Andrea Franchi - all rights reserved