The Cuneo-Nice-Ventimiglia Railway: Beauty Meets Convenience
By Cameron Gibney
Out of all the picturesque sights Europe has to offer, the Cuneo-Ventimiglia-Nice railway is a legitimate contender, providing some of the most beautiful scenes accessible on public transportation.
Passing through a number of towns and mountain passes along the way, including Cuneo, Limone Piemonte, and Tende, this transnational railway combines charm and convenience.
The fare is €26, according to local travel guide Stéphanie Cornil.
Cuneo, Italy to Nice
Passengers will see the snowy mountaintops like Monte Saccarello and Mont Bego as well as extensive tunnels and slopes.
A guide is provided to give valuable commentary on the railway and the area as you travel.
“The guide [lets] you know when to get ready to see the best views”, said Cornil. “Passengers are also interested in the commentary along the ride because it tells a lot about local history, economy, botany, architecture, heritage, etc.”
The train passes through the scenic French countryside for a significant portion of the trip.
If You Start in Cuneo
Reaching a total distance of over 100 kilometers (over 62 miles), the city, or commune of Cuneo is a convenient starting point. Its flagship station, Stazione Ferroviaria di Cuneo is located close to the city center, and is a transit hub, also serving as a bus station.
Before you depart, satisfy your pre-trip cravings with any of the nearby eateries Cuneo has to offer. Just steps from the station is Dotta Caffe Stazione, offering classic cafe food and drink – presumably offering whichever espresso-based drink you fancy for your journey.
Another establishment, Bar Tavola Calda La Fontana, has also received high recommendations for travelers who seek a quick bite in Cuneo.
On to Ventimiglia
Roughly sixty-two miles south the railway will bring you to Ventimiglia, a coastal city just 7 kilometers (roughly 4 miles) from the French border. With its small harbor, Ventimiglia is the last Italian comune before reaching the Franco-Italian border.
The Ventimiglia stazione, or station is close to the heart of the city, and outside the terminal, are busy cafes, bistros, and wine bars.
If you have some time to kill before your next journey, walk down to Giardini Publicci, Ventimiglia’s flagship park, and soak in the views of the Mediterranean coast.
In Ventimiglia, the Roya river flows along the city limits, before it joins the Mediterranean Sea.
Ventimiglia has picturesque beaches, including Spiaggia dei Balzi Rossi and Darsenun, should you choose to end your journey in Ventimiglia (definitely a good choice).
Destination Nice (or Starting From There)
Nearly forty kilometers west of Ventimiglia sits the final destination of the railway, Nice. This gem of the Cote d’Azur on the southeastern French coastline needs no introduction to the hordes of travelers that visit.
As one of the most desirable seaside destinations that France (or perhaps all of Europe) offers, thousands bask in the sun while enjoying the vistas of the Mediterranean Sea.
A train leaves Nice daily at 9:15 am, before reaching its final destination of Tende, Italy, at approximately 11:40 am. Direct from Tende, you can reach Cuneo. You can read more details about this route here.
Though the railway line exists as a harmonious gateway between the two nations, it wasn’t always this way. Political circumstances halted the progress of this railway for a considerable amount of time.
“It is a monumental railway built at the turn of the 19th century,” said Cornil. “The train is a wonderful way to discover the upper land of Nice, as it rides through the Southern Alps, and follows the historic road that connected Nice to Torino in Piedmont.”
The outbreak of the First World War, among other restraints, swiftly shut down the progress of the Cuneo-Ventimiglia-Nice line from 1914 to 1918. But, as the 1930s approached, hopes for the line bore fruit in October of 1928 when the railway opened.
The line is a relaxing and pleasant way to explore the contours of the Franco-Italian border.
More information is available on the Tende-Vallée des Merveilles Office of Tourism website.
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