This electric train, called lovingly Arlecchino is a ETR 300, known as "Settebello-type" for its use on the former Settebello train service. Called Arlecchino due to the different colors of the seats in the various carriages and twin of the Settebello, both characterized by sitting rooms placed both at the front and at the rear. The letters ETR stood for elettrotreno rapido. The ETR 250 entered service on 23 July 1960, on the occasion of the Rome Olympics, making the maiden voyage from Bologna to Venice. It was the symbol of the well-being and economic recovery of the Italians. The service was and is still today first class only with bar service on board, tickets can be purchased on the Trenitalia website or from authorized self-service shops.
Its interiors, were originally conceived by star architect Giò Ponti and designer Giulio Minoletti, piqued people’s curiosity, too. Chic and avant-garde at the time, they boasted plush velvet seats in a range of vibrant colors (hence the name: Arlecchino is one of the main stock characters of the Italian commedia dell'arte, known for wearing multi-colored patches all over his costume), faux leather walls, and a futuristic-looking bar area where uniformed staff would serve coffee in dainty ceramic cups. Plush velvet armchairs, curtains in front of the windows, imitation leather walls; each of the three high-capacity wagons has its own basic color: blue, beige or green.
After it was retired in 1986, the Arlecchino had been left to rot and rust in a warehouse. Then, in 2009, Cantamessa—who had just joined the Ferrovie dello Stato (the Italian State Railways) as an engineer at the time—decided to go look for it and bring it back to life with the help of a small team. And they nailed it. From the livery to the seats, the flooring to the coffee maker, everything onboard the "new" Arlecchino is an exact replica of the 1960s train. Even the service has been revived: The barmen serve expertly brewed espressos in the same ceramic cups, and the coach attendants, dressed in the same retro uniforms, are ready to cater to every passengers' needs. All seats are first class, with generous seat pitch, half in one and half in two-seater configurations. The fourth car houses the gleaming chrome on-board bar, where white-liveried staff serve espresso, fresh pastries and excellent sparkling wine.The only ‘update’ is the addition of a few modern amenities, like plugs for your laptop and USB chargers for your phone. And, importantly, the train has been engineered to reach high speeds to compete with its contemporary counterparts.
The train will service citta d’arte, riding along the most scenic routes of the peninsula’s extensive railway network. Journeys can be booked on the FS Website: “The goal is to build a fleet of vintage trains to promote a slow tourism model,” says Cantamessa. “We want to create a new way of discovering not just our territory, but also a big part of our collective heritage. These gems made history. Now, they’ll do it all over again.”Luigi Cantamessa, general manager of Fondazione FS, the institution behind the revival.
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