Our history

 

HISTORY
The Funicular looks like one of those little trains of the Western movies pursued by the Red Indians and even its age brings us back to that period: 1898.
At the end of the XIX century, Mr. Alessandro Ferretti, an engineer from Genoa, had the idea to realize a ropeway between  Montecatini Alto and Montecatini Terme, called respectively "the Castle" and "the Montecatini Baths".
He obtained the relative licence by the Montecatini Municipality on October 8 1896 but he needed to find the necessary financing for this complex and expensive work.
He found his capital partners in Genoa: Mr. Carlo Barbano and Mr. Giacomo Giovannetti (the square next to the Funicular is named after them)
They took about 4 months to terminate the studies relative to the layout and to the location of the stations and to carry out the on-the-spot investigations on the lands where the Funicular would have run through and their consequent expropriation; in the end, on February 11, 1897, the majority partner, Mr. Carlo Barbano, sent to the Montecatini Terme Municipality "copy of the final layout and of the longitudinal profile of the Funicular according to the finally selected way and for which the definitive expropriation contracts were being entered into, according to the preliminary agreements taken with the land owners".
On March 1, 1897 the first rail works began. The dream of many inhabitants of Montecatini to be easily connected to the "Castle" was about to come true.
The excavation and building works such as viaducts and bridges and the track laying lasted some months.
The beginning of 1898 was employed for the technical improvements of the facility and especially in preparing the great opening ceremony which took place on June 4, 1898 with the participation of famous people such as the genius of the opera, Giuseppe Verdi.
Up to 1921 the two red little trains were operated by a big steam boiler located in the uphill station; subsequently, thanks to electricity, traction was carried out by a powerful electric motor.
The Funicular service went on safely up to September 2, 1944 when a troop of sappers in retreat, in setting off some charges arranged in various sides of the facility caused serious damaged to it, making it unserviceable up to 1949. A Florentine entrepreneur, in collaboration with the Montecatini Municipality carried out the restoration works necessary for its reopening.
The end of the war was followed by the years of the economic recovery. Montecatini became a very attractive thermal resort for thousands of people during summer and the Funicular was more and more utilized by the tourists who wish to visit the "Castle".
In 1977 following some difficulties due to the facility upgrading and fitting works, the Funicular was closed and reopened only with the contribution of the Tuscany Region allowing the coaches restoration, the installation of a new motor and of a very modern "black box" for the trip control.
The activity reopening took place on August 3, 1982. Since then in order to make the vehicle safer to passengers, various mechanical traction parts have been replaced and very important upgrading works have been realized.
The two historical coaches, which "greet" half way, have not been modified.
The structure is the same: three compartments with wooden benches and two external balconies, the most longed-for places from which you can enjoy a wonderful panorama.