It can be defined as the ‘Railway of Central Italy’ that stretch from Sulmona to L'Aquila, then to Rieti and finally to Terni, covering 163,6 kilometres, and affecting three regions: Abruzzo, Lazio and Umbria.
Crossing the mountain chain of the Apennines, it climbs to a height of 989 metres at Sella di Corno, on the border between Lazio and Abruzzo, forming the steepest section of the entire Italian ordinary gauge railway network.
In the original plan, the final stop was to be Pescara, and the first section to be realised, in 1873, was actually the one from Pescara to Sulmona; in 1875 the line was extended to L'Aquila.
In 1882 the provisional terminus became Rocca di Corno, just beyond the Apennine pass; on October 28, 1883, the railway was inaugurated in its entirety, that is, from Pescara to Terni, formerly a station on the pre-existing Rome-Ancona line: at last the Abruzzi was thus connected to the capital.
Just five years later, however, in 1888, a direct Sulmona-Rome line was built: the Pescara-Sulmona section was then annexed to the new railway, and the Sulmona station on the Pescara-Rome line became the terminus for trains from Terni.
For the past 140 years, the Central Italian Railway has been essential for commuters travelling from the villages to nearby cities for work, study, care and recreation. With the development of road transport in the second half of the 20th century, the line lost its function as a strategic transport facility, although it still remains essential today for many commuters. In recent years, however, a new type of tourism is developing, that of rail tourism aimed at lesser-known villages and towns, also encouraged by journeys on historic trains that attract new travellers.
Slow and sometimes ancient trains allow travellers to admire new landscapes from the windows: valleys, gorges, mountains, small towns, cities, which the frequent stops invite us to visit: it is the heart of Italy that reveals itself to our eyes.