Monday, 8 March 2010

La Freccia

La Freccia is the magazine of FS - Ferrovie dello Stato, the Italian State Railways. I picked up the February edition on a recent trip to Italy and it contains an interesting article on "I Treni dei Papi" - the trains of the popes. The articles begins by stating that, even though at the beginning trains were seen as infernal machines, the Popes soon learnt to familiarise themselves with trains, stations and railways.

The occasion for the article was a visit made by Pope Benedict to a hostel at Termini railway station in Rome but it includes an interesting history of the relationship between popes and trains. and historical photographs of John XXIII travelling in the Italian Presidential Train and Paul VI in a hard-hat (and cassock, rochet and fur-trimmed mozzetta!) on a visit to the construction site for the Rome-Florence Diretissima line [picture above from an ebay postcard].

Pope Benedict didn't actually travel to Termini by train by the railway provides financial support to the hostel and, on the journey on which this magazine was obtained, there were volunteer railway staff going through the carriages collecting money to present to the hostel in honour of the papal visit. In return they were giving out small chocolates sponsored by various other companies. Not too bad a deal.

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