The Birth of the Funicolar
The funicular that links Mondovì Piazza with Mondovì Breo opened on 27 October 1886.At the side of the previous pedestrian path, it connects the two oldest centres of the city: the small squares and streets full of shops in Breo with the large Piazza Maggiore, which is overlooked by the church of San Francesco Saverio, the ancient town hall, Museo della Ceramica (Ceramics Museum) and the Palazzo del Governatore (Governor’s Palace). The project was designed by a Bolognese engineer Alessandro Ferretti, a great expert on mountain railways and designer of many technological systems that were state-of-the-art for that era, including Monte dei Cappuccini in Turin, San Luca in Bologna and Monreale in Palermo. At the time, the cars ran on steam and carried approximately 700 people each day. In 1887 though, some technical changes had to be made: during a test run, the braking system resulted inadequate and the two cars crashed into each other at full speed, destroying part of the Breo station.Steam was replaced with a counterweight water system until 1926, when the funicular was converted to electricity.
The funicular is accessed by going through the austere nineteenth century portal, which recent restoration has maintained and enhanced. The portal existed before the birth of the funicular: in 1871, the sculptor Antonio Roàsio had designed a grand entrance door to the pedestrian path connecting Breo to Piazza. It should have been adorned by the busts of four illustrious people of Mondovi and thestatues of Saints Peter and Paul, titulars of the nearby parish church. In the end, only the niche and the stature of the Madonna and child, one of the few works sculpted in marble by Roàsio, who generally used wood.
From Abandonment to Resurgence
In 1975, the funicular service was abandoned for economic and maintenance reasons: the tracks became covered with brambles and brushwood, the cars gradually rusted and the stations fell into disuse. In January 2005, demolition and removal work of the old structure began, the route was renovated and new winches were built. In March 2006, the new futuristic cars arrived: they were designed by the famous designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, originally from Cuneo, who has designed numerous car models for international car manufacturers. The cabins are spacious, with large windows to view the panorama and a capacity of approximately 70 people. The new system was inaugurated on 16 December 2006.
Route and Features
The system is a land-based funicular with two cars that alternate between the stations of Piazza (upper part) and Breo (lower part). There is a single track with a doubling exchange where the two cars cross each other half way. It moves with a haulage cable located between the cars and the upper station. The route covers an altitude difference of 137 metres in 141 seconds and is a little less than545 metres long. It can carry over 1000 people an hour.
The Funicolar Today
The great restoration work has brought the stations and the original routes back to life, used now with modern machinery and times. The funiculars leave every ten minutes, providing not just a quick and comfortable ascent, but also a breathtaking view over the city.The funicular is a trip back in time, while being the quickest and most pleasant link between the two hearts of the city. Once again it is a symbol of Mondovì.
Direction: Paolo Ansaldi
Post-Production: VDEA Produzioni
Translations: Europa 92
Copywriter and research: Laura Marino
ROTARY CLUB Mondovì
Alessandro Bracco, Mariangela Schellino