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The train

The little train called "Vaca mora" in an ancient image (ph: Bonomo).

The little train called “Vaca mora” in an ancient image (ph: Bonomo).

The Piovene-Asiago railway line was inaugurated in a snowy February morning of 1910, just over 25 years after the submission of the first project, wanted by the wool entrepreneur Senator Alessandro Rossi, a native of Santa Caterina di Lusiana, to promote the development of the Plateau encouraging the sale of timber, marble and wool and the take-off of tourism. This railway stretch, a work of high engineering considering the difference in height, was abandoned in 1958 among large protests by the Plateau’s inhabitants, following the expansion of the road transport. The train, dubbed “Vaca mora” (Black Cow), painfully plodded on the gradient of the Costo, and the more self-confident travelers could even go down, stretch their legs and calmly go up again.

Mario Rigoni Stern extensively wrote of this railway, for example by telling his departure for military service in 1938 in “L’ultima partita a carte” (The last game of cards): “…one morning, in late November, an hour before dawn, I left family, home, friends and town, like a young bird that spreads its wings and flies away. The cog train was under steam pressure and puffed, ready to go on the trumpet signal. It was dark, rainy and windy.” Goffredo Parise wrote of the “little smoky train” as well, in his “Sillabario n. 2,” telling his arrival at Asiago in the winter of 1943.

Now the railway is viable as a dirt bike trail from Campiello to Asiago. Of its stations, Treschè Conca is seat of the “Pro Loco” (the local tourist board), Canove houses the War Museum and Asiago the Mountain Union “Spettabile Reggenza dei Sette Comuni” (the Regency of the Seven Municipalities of the Plateau).

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