Discover the railway heritage in Vermenagna- Roya

Cross-border area Yes

Means of transport en train

Started before the partition of Savoy in 1860, the Cuneo-Nice / Ventimiglia railway line project was realized on the French side, only after the First World War, and inaugurated in 1928.

The topography of the Roya and Vermenagna valleys led to the creation of spectacular works of art, which lend a monumental nature to this one-way line.

You can recognize the viaducts that were not destroyed during the war by their arches and their well-kept coverings of clear limestone of the PLM (compagnie Paris-Lyon-Méditerrannée) French side, and of pink bricks underlined eith white limestone bearing the FS monogram (Ferrovie dello Stato), Italian side. Numerous helical tunnels allow you to gain altitude while respecting the maximum railway slope, lengthening the distance. The stations and the old houses of the guardians of the level crossings adopt both the “Nice” style of the French PLM company, and the neoclassical style of the Italian FS. Locally, no lesser spectacular modern works have replaced some viaducts that were detonated with dynamite during the Second World War.

You can see the works in this list from the road SS 20 – RD 6204, where the local open spaces allow you to park. To better appreciate this surprising mountain route between Breil-sur-Roya and Borgo San Dalmazzo, it is recommended to discover it by train.

Railway of Wonders

The Cuneo-Ventimiglia-Nice railway, commonly known as the Railway of Wonders, links Italy to France, Piedmont to Liguria and the mountains to the sea. Inaugurated in 1928, the line is a jewel of railway engineering that is divided into two sections: the Cuneo – Ventimiglia section of 96 km and the Cuneo – Breil – Nice section of 119 km, which, with a change in the French station of Breil-sur-Roya, allows travellers to reach Nice along the very scenic inland line.

The line is operated by Trenitalia on the Cuneo-Limone-Ventimiglia section and by SNCF on the Tende-Breil-Nice section, and has characterised itself over the years as a tourist railway line for the variety of landscapes it crosses: from the Cuneo plain to the territories of the natural parks of the Maritime Alps and Mercantour, to the splendid and wild Roya valley, a canyon that winds its way from the Tenda pass to the sea at Ventimiglia.

In addition to the landscape aspects, the Railway of Wonders has unique features from an engineering point of view. To overcome the difficulties of overcoming major gradients, with gradients of up to 26%, helical tunnels have been built that allow the trains to climb the mountains. Notable among these is the one at Vernante, on Italian territory, which in about 1,500 m. gains 32 m. in altitude and screws into the rock, making the passenger lose his ‘compass’. With the 16-arch Salet railway bridge, it was considered a ‘miracle of engineering, a prodigy of calculation and daring’. The viaducts crossing the narrow gorges of the Roya valley are also among the most important structural works. Destroyed during the Second World War, they were rebuilt in 1978.

The line is the subject of tourism revival projects: in 2020 it ranked first nationally in the special FAI (Italian Environment Fund) I Luoghi del Cuore classification with 75,586 votes. In 2016, the German magazine Hörzu listed it among the ten most beautiful railway lines in the world.

For information on Italian train timetables consult by entering Cuneo and Ventimiglia in the search.

For information on French train schedules go to and select Line 5 Nice-Breil-Tende.


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