Don’t you just LOVE IT when a public works project actually benefits the people, and they also do it right when it comes to informing the people about it? I do. That’s why I want to discuss Greenways Italia.
That website has an adorable English language icon at the top corner, but apparently it’s just for show – so I’ll fill you in via this description from moleskinecity.com:
March 2 marked the first national day of the abandoned railways, a cultural initiative to recover the abandoned infrastructure, and promote more environmentally friendly tourism. There are more than 5000 kilometers of abandoned railroad, and many of them are being transformed into Greenways, bike paths, and hiking trails. This initiative aims to increase public awareness, and protect the cultural heritage of these forgotten railways. It highlights the importance of promoting tourism consistent with environmental standards and sustainable mobility.
Which is awesome. And there’s a great overall map on that moleskine link showing Greenways locations throughout Italy. But the thing I really love about Greenways is its website – specifically, the itineraries. The organization has chosen five distinct routes of varying lengths, and have given you pretty much all the information you’d ever want to know about them:
- The technical stuff – distance, time on bike and by foot, type of surface, best times of year for the location, types of users (rollerbladers, bikes, etc.), suggested sites along the way.
- Description – a delightful tour through the entire trail’s historic sites, flora and fauna, information about the abandoned stops along the way.
- Map – by Google, of course, darlings.
- “A little history” – telling the tale of the building, life, and ultimate demise of the route as a railway. Fascinating, poetic, better than Cats.
- I just spent 20 minutes trying to find the old ad that phrase came from – “better than Cats” – if I am remembering correctly, it was a New York local ad for a musical, the kind they used to do where they’d interview people coming out of the theater. That’s where that phrase came from; the full one, I believe, is: “I loved it. It was better than Cats. I’d see it again and again.” Either that, or it was an SNL parody of those ads. God, those ads were always so awesomely lame. I miss my Dinkins-era New York!
- Useful information – how to get to the beginning of the Greenways route by car or by train + bike.
It looks like they’re still updating the site with other routes, and I’ll keep checking back to the site and will let you know when it’s in English. But if you’re going to Italy and you’re interested in biking, blading or walking trails, Greenways Italia is definitely the site for you!