Recently we ran an opinion piece about private gondolas, asking whether they may be a sign of things to come. But nothing prepared for us this precarious looking “trenino” or little train in Vernazza, Italy. Essentially it’s a mini-monorail and it turns out they’re not uncommon here.
Vernazza is one of the “Cinque Terre”, five towns of exceptional beauty on the eastern edge of the Italian Riviera, reachable only by path, boat or train. Despite the remoteness and difficulty of access, the place is teeming with tourists year-round.
Becoming prosperous without a network of roads demands a certain entrepreneurial and self-starting spirit, which this contraption exemplifies. The trenino’s track stretches several hundred metres from high above the town, down the almost sheer cliff-cum-hill to the edge of town. It terminates just beyond this engine with its single seat, possibly lifted from some ‘80s airport, welded behind the jury-rigged cargo bin.
Locals use trenini primarily for transporting goods and equipment, most especially grapes and hay, up and down their terraced vineyards and gardens. Very occasionally it is used for transporting people — when there is no other means of access to a given spot.
Correction – August 3, 2015
We originally thought this may be an “unsafe” transport device on first glance but thanks to BC and all commenters we realized that this is untrue. Trenini, or Monoracks, are not unique to this area and are neither homemade nor jury-rigged, but number over 650 around the world. They are also safe and the ’seats can be fitted with a protective hood’. So we still say you should leave it to the professionals — and still salute the entrepreneurial spirit of those who recognize business ideas where others only see perilous slopes.