Train stations are a place of transit, but also a place where people meet. They are symbols of the industrial revolution, and have become, during recent years, expressions of contemporary architecture.
Here's a list of the Italian train stations that, besides being functional and welcoming, also stand out for their beauty.
Let's open the ranking with Italy’s second train station, in terms of passenger volume - after Rome's Termini Station. Milano Centrale also stands out for its elegant architecture, which merges various styles, like the liberty, art déco and rational ones. It's one of the largest Italian train stations, inaugurated during the Italian Fascist period. During the early 2000's, it was restyled. It is now also a large gallery, shopping center for many brands. A curiosity of this station is that at Platform 21, there's the historical Savoia waiting hall.
Amongst Italy's most beautiful train stations, there's also the new high-speed train station of Napoli Afragola, inaugurated on June 6, 2017, in its first phase. The ultra-modern and avant-guarde “Porta del Sud” fully deserves to be included in this ranking of Italy's most beautiful train stations, placing itself in second position. A bridge-shaped structure that looks over the train tracks and the winding lines that accompany this movement. These are the main features of the project of Zaha Hadid Architects, a London-based firm of Architecture. The train station currently hosts the transit of 36 high-speed trains. By 2022, regional and intercity trains will also pass through this station. Just like any other great work worthy of mention, even this one was stopped for a while. In fact, in 2003, while the excavations were being carried out, an ancient Mycenaean village, dating back to 1500 B.C. was discovered, and works had to be stopped for at least a year.
A futuristic experience to live right in the very middle of the Po Valley. This is how one can express the sensation perceived while walking or transiting through this clearly avante-guard station. An ultra-modern building, measuring nearly 500 metres, developing on two levels. It is made of steel portals in succession, divided into staggered modules that contribute to creating its wave effect.
The Reggio Emilia HS Mediopadana was inaugurated in 2013. Together with the sail bridges overlooking the A1 – “Autostrada del Sole” - it is part of a requalification programme of the area concerning the Northern part of Reggio Emilia. It is the work of the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and called "Le Vele" (The Sails). The station has become a place to visit, and not merely a place of transit, due to its strong contemporary artistic connotation.
Let's go back to older times, with the Torino Porta Nuova train station, strictly linked to Italy's Unification. Standing as the symbol of the power and prestige of the once Italian capital, the station was inaugurated in 1861. To this day, it still holds its importance as the third Italian train station, after Roma Termini and Milano Centrale. It ranks fourth even for the obvious unmistakable beauty of its 19th century facade. The station's Sala Gonin is worth mentioning since it really increases the aesthetic pleasure experienced during visits. It's a waiting room - frescoed in 19th century style - which in the past was used by the Savoia royal family. Visits of the public are allowed only during a few days a year, for instance during the FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano) days.
Classic to Contemporary: the new Roma Triburtina Station is an example of renewed architecture. The work was carried out in 4 years and inaugurated in 2011. Despite it being modern, it was dedicated to the Count of Cavour. It also acts as a connection point between the Nomentano and Pietralata neighbourhoods. This station too, with its shops and services, is a place where people meet.
It's Italy's largest train station and the fifth in Europe for the number of passengers. Besides this, its main characteristics are represented by the strength of its spaces, a feature which during the years, changed the look of this station. The "Stazione Centrale delle Ferrovie Romane" [Central Station of the Roman Railways] begins its journey in 1862, but opened to the public on February 25, 1863. Its name was later changed to "Stazione di Roma Termini", chosen due to its proximity to the Baths of Diocletian. In the 30's, the moment arrived to build a new Station for Rome. The project was assigned to Architect Angiolo Mazzoni, who used a dynamic architecture capable of merging the Ancient Roman classic style with modernism. Details were also covered, like the cantilever roofs, which were characterized by their suggestive "airplane wing" shape. The old station was therefore demolished, and in 1938, rebuilding works began, until the beginning of the Second World War.
The station building was built according to the architectonic renaissance style, a French school of the first half of the 20th century, while also being enriched by decorative motifs. The facade, in Roman style, is also decorated. Its current looks are the fruit of the restructuring that began in 1902 - and that lasted only 3 years. It was done on the occasion of the World Expo of 1905.
Palermo Centrale Station ranks eighth. It was designed by Architect Di Giovanni, and inaugurated on June 7, 1886. It stands out for its neoclassic lines and for its pictorial decorations, created by artist Rocco Lentini. The thing that most characterizes it is that it is faithful to the original. The only detail missing is the iron and glass roofing that was demolished during the Second World War to extract the metals needed for the conflict.
The Firenze Santa Maria Novella Station is Italy's fourth largest, per number of passengers. The building perfectly represents modern architecture and is faithful to the Italian rational style that draws its inspiration from the classic oneiric language. Its spaces are organized schematically and according to perspective. The project is the work of Giovanni Michelucci who, together with a group of architects called Gruppo Toscano, won a public tender in 1932.
The Bologna Centrale Station closes this ranking, with its tenth place. It is the fifth station in Italy per dimensions and passenger volume. The station acts as a connection point between Northern and Central Italy. It was built during the second half of the 19th century and restructured in the 30's of the 20th century. It is sadly remembered for the tragedy of August 2, 1980. The clock that stopped at 10.25 that day has become its symbol.