Frecciargento is the name of the Italian high-speed train that Robert Langdon, the main character in Dan Brown’s Inferno, uses to travel from Florence to Venice.
The Frecciargento train
The fast Frecciargento services operated by Trenitalia combine comfort with speed. Once known as Eurostar Alta Velocità, but now branded as part of Italy’s long-distance Frecce family of trains, Frecciargento trains operate on both high-speed and traditional lines.
Frecciargento trains have opened up access to Italy’s high-speed network to localities lying in the country’s extremities. These trains run on the main high-speed artery from Milan to Rome, but (unlike Frecciarossa trains) they also use ordinary lines to connect other cities to the high-speed network. Venice, Brescia, Bolzano, Brindisi, and Reggio di Calabria (at the tip of Italy) all thus benefit from its service.
History of high-speed trains in Italy
The first high-speed train in Italy, the Direttissima, began operation in 1977, connecting Rome with Florence. The first high-speed service was introduced in 1988-89 on the Rome-Milan line with the Pendolino train, and its top speed was 250 km/h (160 mph).
Nowadays, high-speed rail in Italy consists of two lines connecting most of the country’s major cities. The first line connects Turin to Salerno via Milan, Bologna, Florence, Rome and Naples, while the second runs from Turin to Venice via Milan and is under construction in certain parts.
Service on the high speed lines is provided by Trenitalia and NTV, a private company that started operation in April 2012. Trenitalia is the primary train operator in Italy and is owned by Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane, which is in turn owned by the Italian Government.
The route Florence-Venice
During travel from Florence to Venice, the Frecciargento train passes through some of the most interesting Italian landscapes, like the Apennine Range in the Mugello Region, the Low Padan Plain, and the Venice Lagoon, stopping in Bologna, Padua, and Venice.
The Florence-Bologna high-speed segment runs through tunnels under the Apennine Range in the Mugello Region. Mugello is a wonderful valley situated to the north of Florence. This land has always fascinated visitors for its natural characteristics and beautiful villages.
The Mugello landscape is characterized by a broad belt of mountains and hills covered by olive tree groves and vineyards that slope down into the Padan Plain, where Bologna is located.
Bologna, the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, is situated on the southern edge of the Po Plain where the Reno and Savena river valleys meet. From here in the Apennines, the landscape gradually changes into that typical of the Padan Plain.
This landscape is characterized by a few hills and heights, as well as by large, regular areas cultivated for their grass, rice, corn and soybeans, and intersected by the geometric pattern of drains. The uniformity of the Padan Plain landscape is interrupted by long rows of poplars, willows, and elms used to break the monotony of the terrain and to signal the presence of rivers and drains, by and cities.
One of these is the ancient and picturesque city of Padua, located west of Venice and famous for hosting the works of many important paintings of 13th and 14th century artists, such as Giotto, Donatello, and Tiziano.
Passed Padua the train ends in the City of Venice, which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, architecture, and artworks. It is located in the Venetian Lagoon, which stretches along the shoreline between the mouths of the Po and the Piave Rivers.
The city and its lagoon are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The adventures of Robert and Sienna don’t finish in Venice, however. In fact, from Venice they fly to Istanbul, Turkey, where they attempt to thwart the plans of the scientist Bertrand Zobrist, who intends to solve the world’s overpopulation problem by releasing a deadly virus.
Picture by it.interrail.eu.