funicular was the only plant in the world clambering up on an active volcano, at
that time. In 1870, when Vesuvius was visited exclusively on foot, on horseback
or on sedan-chairs, the Hungarian engineer Ernesto Emanuele Oblieght entrusted
the engineers Galanti, Sigl and Wolfart with the task to study a system that
permitted climbing to the cone comfortably sitting.
The sedan chairs were the more comfortable
transport before the funicular
The tree men, who had
already realized inclined planes in other parts of Europe, drafted the project,
the realization of which was assigned in 1879 to engineer Emilio Olivieri from
In the meanwhile, on 21th December 1878, the State property granted
Mr.Oblieght 9.700 square meter for 30 years at the rent of 150 liras/year, and
Provincial Deputation of Naples gave him the authorization to realize the
project and manage the plant. By the contract drawn up with the State, Oblieght
reserved to himself the right to found later on the "Sociètè Anonyme du Chemin de
Fer Funicolaire du Vèsuve" to which he could have ceded the funicular
management. But he encountered opposition from the local community that claimed
their rights on the tourists visiting Mt.Vesuvius. Mr.Oblieght bought off them
by means of an annual payment of 900 liras plus a pool tax levied on every
Oblieght company assigned works to the contractor Alvino. The cost of
works, which finished on 1880, totaled 435.000 liras. On 25th May the Commission
for the test united in Naples and on 6th June, at about five in the afternoon,
Vesuvius funicular was inaugurated. At the champagne participated the Company
Chairman Senator Piedimonte, the Mayor of Resina and Naples.
Authorities at the champagne for the new
funiculà - Gamboni, Neri)
On 10th June the
new funicular was opened to the public, beginning the regular service, managed by a certain
Mr.Treiber. A wave of enthusiasm pervaded the world, as
evidenced the famous song "Funiculì-Funiculà"
On 13th December
1886, Oblieght ceded, as he reserved to himself to do, the granting and the
management of the plant for the amount of 1.200.000 liras, to the French Company
"Sociètè Anonyme du Chemin de Fer Funicolaire du Vèsuve", which
opened an office in Naples, Via S.Brigida, 42; three hundred tourists
experienced the elation of the slope, every day. However , the company, since
indebted for the high maintenance cost and the exiguous receipts was forced in
its turn to cede concession to the Th.Cook and Son Company already famous in the
world, for 170.000 liras, as issued by the judge of Portici. It was on 24th
Coming of the new company wasn't so pleasant. It had to face the
request to continue to effect the extortional payments claimed by the local
guides who burnt one of the stations, cut the track and cast a carriage down the
abyss. John Mason Cook, who in the meanwhile succeeded his father Thomas, dead
in 1892, came to an agreement on the ground of taxes to be paid on each
The new light railway Pugliano-Vesuvius, partly rack, built
in 1903, contributed to double the number of tourists carried up to the crater.
This event forced the company to increase the funicular capacity, demolishing
the old installation and replacing it by a more modern functional and
electric-traction one, and putting into office two new carriage.
of technology in the first years of 1900 was obscured by the terrible 1906
eruption. On 4th April the first tremors were noticed; Cook staff and their
relatives were evacuated and transferred to Pugliano. On 7th and 8th April the
lower and upper station, the restaurant, the equipments, the two carriage were destroyed
and covered with an ash blanket 20-30 meter thick. The eruptive activity had an
end on 21th April and caused a loss of volcano height, the destruction of
funicular, damages to Vesuvius Railway and loss of life. Professor Matteucci and
other brave men were eyewitness of the event, as well as heroes of duty.
Brigadier Migliardi, Professor Matteucci,
Engineer Perret, and Station Master Mormile
men didn't give in and in a little time, damages to the railway were repaired,
while only in 1909 works for a new funicular had an end, thanks to engineer
Enrico Treiber's project. On 12th March 1911 a new eruption destroyed the upper
station another time. Workmen needed less than a year to reconstruct what nature
had destroyed. After 1911 the installation worked at full capacity and
fortunately remained intact during the 1929 eruption. In the meanwhile, in 1928
Cook brothers retired from business, so that the Vesuvius funicular and railway
were handed down to "Anonymous Italian Company for the Vesuvius
Railways" associated with the mother-house "Thomas Cook and Son".
On 1937 the above-mentioned company became the "Vesuvius Railway and
Funicular Company". But after seven years Mt.Vesuvius woke; it was and is
actually the last eruption. The funicular, under the control of the Allies
already from 1943, was irreparably damaged and wasn't built more.
The 1944 eruption buried partly the funicular
construction of a new funicular was already programmed in 1988. The architect Nicola Pagliara, already known for similar projects, won the
tender for the construction and the realization of the new Vesuvius funicular.
The approvals from local and central managements were obtained, and works
started on September 1991. However they were stopped after some months and never
During works, the excavations have brought
to light remains of a 1909 carriage.
One of the new carriages built by Ansaldo and
Funiculì funiculà, ora la regione ripensa