Our History

The Val d'Orcia Railway: Journeys into the Past among Tuscan Landscapes

The 129-km-long Asciano Monte Antico-Grosseto railway line, completed in 1872, traverses lands of special natural and scenic value, from the Crete Senesi to the Val d'Orcia to the Maremma, connecting all the villages of these wonderful territories.

The Origin of the Railroad and the Decline of the Asciano-Monte Antico Section.

It was essential and vital for the transportation of goods and people. The birth of the Treno Natura is closely linked to the decline of the 51-kilometer Asciano-Monte Antico railway section: by the early 1990s, traffic on the line had declined due to the little anthropization of the area and the absence of freight traffic, which was now all geared to road transport. The first attempt to establish a tourist train, called Treno Natura, dates back to 1991, but it was abandoned after a short time.

The Closure of the Railroad and Rebirth with the Nature Train

On September 27, 1994, the State Railways (FS) closed the Asciano-Monte Antico railway to passenger service. The line avoided the fate reserved for other lines closed during the same period, thanks to the protests of local authorities: the trackage was preserved and the line was earmarked for charter trains operated by tourist agencies. This attempt was also unsuccessful, however, later that year, the FS commissioned an association, with previous experience on the Lower Sebino Railway, to experiment with a similar activity on the Asciano-Monte Antico. A new association was formed, named FVO - Ferrovia Val d'Orcia, which reinstated the Treno Natura project, thanks in part to the support of Stefano Maggi, a researcher at the University of Siena, and Giancarlo Palazzi Head of Upper Management of the State Railways at the Siena Reception Office.

The Beauty of the Route and the Role of the Val d'Orcia Railway Today

Passing through the Crete Senesi area and the valley of the Orcia River at the foot of Mount Amiata, the line is in fact in an area of particular environmental and scenic value, where among other things a fine wine, the famous Brunello di Montalcino, is produced and where the Val d'Orcia Natural and Cultural Artistic Park, now also recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, has been established.

Today, the Association collaborates with the tour operator, holder of the concession, in the organizational part of the various days on which the Nature Train trips take place, and is responsible for assisting travelers, enhancing the existing attractions along the line and distributing themed gadgets, demonstrating how it is possible, with innovative forms of management, to reuse secondary railways, which run through areas that have remained untouched by urbanization and industrialization, playing a fundamental naturalistic role for this.

With the initiative, an important heritage of "industrial archaeology" is preserved. In order to emphasize the historical value of the "Tourist Railway" as well, the service is carried out with steam locomotives and "centoporte" carriages, or with vintage winkles. Excursions with the Nature Train last an entire day and depart from and arrive at Siena station where connections with Trenitalia regional trains are possible. Each train runs along the Siena - Monte Antico - Asciano - Siena rail loop.

On each excursion, the train stops at a different station on the Asciano - Monte Antico railway where travelers can get off and visit the town and neighboring towns. Lunches and markets are often organized where people can taste and buy local products.

With the initiative, it is possible to visit museums belonging to the Musei Senesi circuit where one can see numerous archaeological artifacts, works of art and tools of rural life.

It is also possible to combine the train with biking and trekking: numerous well-marked trails and bike paths branch off from each station. The routes are many, unusual and all irresistible for the beauty of the territories crossed: certain landscapes cannot be seen except from the train. In some places there are no roads and the railroad passes through crops and flocks, through bold viaducts and tunnels, over hills, alongside streams of water: time really seems to stand still watching the cloud of steam that accompanies us throughout the journey. Finally we descend to romantic stations to set out on trails, reach parishes, villages and castles, farms for a tasting, and participate in festivals and village festivals.