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The Green Train of Sardinia

The tourist railway through the picturesque heart of the island departs from Mandas.

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Where is


Mandas, SU, Sardegna, 09040, Italia (486m s.l.m.)


What it is and where it is

"A strange railroad, " - British writer David Herbert Lawrence wrote in the 1920s - "I would like to know who built it. It hurtles up hills and down valleys around sudden curves with the utmost carelessness...." A hundred years have passed, the excitement remains the same. We set out from Mandas, a town in the hills of Trexenta, taking our seats in vintage carriages pulled by a steam locomotive. One line goes up toward the Gennargentu; the other reaches Arbatax, on the east coast.

Why it's special

Sardinia is relaunching its rail network as part of an excursion network involving dozens of inland locations. The beauty of the journey comes from theexceptional scenery, but also from theboldness of the structures-bridges, tunnels, hanging tracks-small masterpieces of railway engineering. You travel on friendly local trains, but also on vintage convoys, stopping in the middle of the countryside to visit a nuraghe.

Not to be missed

An indispensable travel companion is the novel "Sea and Sardinia," which tells of the railway crossing of the island undertaken in 1921 by David Herbert Lawrence, best known as the author of Lady Chatterley's Lover. "It doesn't matter where the train goes. The important thing is to decide to take it": this, the philosophy of an incurable wanderer, who traveled with his beautiful wife Frieda, obviously equipped with a stove to meet tea time.

A bit of history

The seat of an important duchy in Spanish times, Mandas is now an agro-pastoral center among the picturesque hills of Trexenta. In the historic center, visit the Gothic-Aragonese parish church of San Giacomo, with beautiful 15th-century polychrome wooden statues, and the medieval complex of the convent of Sant'Antonio. Then take the narrow-gauge train that runs on the line opened in 1988 from Cagliari to Mandas, where the tracks fork: northward to Sorgono; eastward to Arbatax.


At the Mandas station one can admire the coal locomotive FdS 400, which was in service on the Sardinian network for more than fifty years: supplied in 1931 by Officine Meccaniche di Reggio Emilia, once retired it seemed destined only to show off on the station's turntable. Instead it was called back into tourist service, a charming ambassador for a new philosophy of sustainable mobility.

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Francesco Soletti

You get on the train and set off on a journey that seems to disregard time...


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