The train was moved to another warehouse, where mechanics worked on its engine, electrical systems and technical equipment. Once that was taken care of, Cantamessa and his entourage began to explore the more complicated aspect of recreating his design elements. “We turned to the Fondazione FS archives to get our hands on the original sketches and photos of the interiors and exteriors,” Cantamesa explains. “The idea has always been to restore all four cars to their original condition, including velor. We wanted the Arlecchino to look like it was in 1960.
They nailed it. From the livery to the seats, from the parquet floor to the coffee maker, everything aboard the “new” Arlecchino is an exact replica of the train of the 60s. Even the service has been revived: the bartenders serve expertly prepared espressos in the same ceramic cups. , and the bus attendants, dressed in the same retro uniforms, are ready to meet the needs of every passenger. The only “update” is the addition of some modern equipment, like sockets for your laptop and USB chargers for your phone. And, most importantly, the train was designed to reach high speeds in order to compete with its contemporary counterparts.
“We have undergone all the technological transformations and tests to ensure that the Arlecchino can travel alongside the rest of our modern fleet,” explains Cantamesa. “Now we are ready to launch it across the country. “
While his full schedule will soon be available on Trenitalia.com, don’t expect the Arlecchino to replace your usual Frecciarossa (Italian high-speed trains): given its age and the maintenance it requires, the colorful train will only take the tracks two weekends per month, and all journeys will end in a main metropolitan hub: Rome, Milan, Turin or Venice.
It will not travel on regular routes either. Instead, the train will serve art citta, traveling the most scenic routes of the peninsula’s extensive rail network. “It is a unique train and as such it deserves to travel on the most beautiful, culturally relevant and scenic of our rail lines,” says Cantamesa. “We will also use it for cultural events, so that it can take groups of travelers to festivals, exhibitions and fairs from north to south.”
As for the price of the trip in what is essentially a time capsule, Cantamessa says tickets will be around 30% more expensive than what you would pay for a business class on a Frecciarossa, which isn’t bad considering the fact that it is a glamorous leisure train. service you will get.
The Arlecchino is just the first of a number of historic electric trains in Italy that are being revamped for today’s traveler. Then came its predecessor, the ETR 300 Settebello, class of 1953. Even more luxurious than the Arlecchino and with seven cars instead of four, it is currently being restored to join its little brother on the same scenic roads. Other trains, including the ETR 220 from 1957 and the ETR 450 Pendolino from 1988, will follow.
“The aim is to build a fleet of vintage trains to promote a slow tourism model,” Cantamesa explains. “We want to create a new way of discovering not only our territory, but also a large part of our collective heritage. These gems have marked history. Now they are going to start all over again.