Along the railway line that connects Florence to Rome, you’ll find the small Swiss-style station of Sant’Ellero. One hundred years ago, it hosted two tracks that led to Pratomagno: the Sant’Ellero-Saltino line was strongly supported by Giuseppe Telfener who wished to link Vallombrosa with the plains, in order to accommodate the tourists and students who frequented the area. After receiving funding from local administrative agencies Telfener built the line in record time—working from May to September 1892. It was inaugurated on September 25 that same year.
Capable of travelling 8 km in 57 minutes, this train was extremely successful at the beginning of the 1900s thanks to the tourist boom that the Vallombrosa area witnessed at the turn of the century. Nonetheless, it was closed in 1924. The Great War affected the line and the local Forestry Institute had been transferred to a different location. Additionally, the increased use of cars and buses marked the end of cog railways. It is still possible to view the lovely open carriages that were once used during the summer season to take passengers through Pitiana, Paterno, Melosa and Pagiano. On the way to the Saltino station, you’ll also find the Donnini station (though no longer in use, it once hosted the train’s cargo coaches). You can see an example of a rebuilt cog train at the Railway Museum, located at Florence’s Leopolda Center.