Today's Google Doodle celebrates the inauguration of the Naples-Portici section, Italy's first railway line. Here's its story
No female scientists or scientists, human rights activists or activists for the status of women in the world. Nor musicians, actresses or people of the shobiz in general. Today's Google Doodle, October 3, is dedicated to the Italian railway network. And, in particular, to the Portici-Naples line, a few kilometers of railroad that have, however, represented a real turning point for the industrial development of our country.
The Portici-Naples, in fact, was the first railway line ever built in Italy. We are in 1839 in the then Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (Garibaldi's expedition of the Thousand was still far from being even imagined), one of the most technologically advanced states of the time. On October 3 of that year (exactly 180 years ago, to be precise) King Ferdinand II inaugurated the 7.25 km double-track railway line whose construction had started about three years earlier.
The first railway in Italy: history and development of the Naples-Portici
Commanded by King Ferdinand II, the Naples-Portici railway line represented the feather in the cap of his industrial development policy which, within a couple of decades, transformed the South of Italy into one of the most technologically developed areas in Italy and in Europe.
The Naples-Portici line was designed and built by the engineer Armando Giuseppe Bayard de la Vingtrie who, in 1836, obtained the license for the construction of a route connecting the capital of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies with other cities in the southern part of Campania. In the years following the inauguration, in fact, the same Bayard takes care of the planning and the realization of other sections of the railway: in 1842 the line is extended up to Castellammare di Stabia, while two years later it reaches Pompei, Angri, Pagani and Nocera Inferiore.
The first locomotive to cover the 7 kilometers of the line was the Vesuvio which, with its 65 horsepower and a maximum speed of 50 kilometers per hour, represented a real technological marvel of the time.
The creation of the railway line was not an event in itself. King Ferdinand II took advantage of it to create a real industrial pole on the outskirts of Naples: the Pietrarsa Workshops, an artillery factory converted to the construction of locomotives and the assembly of rolling stock. At the beginning, the plant was only involved in the repair of the Campania's railway rolling stock, but already in 1845 it produced its first locomotive in perfect working order. Soon the Pietrarsa plant became the flagship of the Italian industrial production and, in 1860, it counted 1,200 workers.