The next part of our trip would be in northern Italy, but of course we first had to get there. As our first planned stop was Turin we had two options to travel there, either we used the mainline routes via Genoa (but train traffic might still have been disturbed by the collapse of the bridge) or the more scenic route from Ventimiglia via Cuneo to Turin, only served twice a day. We opted for the latter and thus had an early start in Cannes La Bocca, for which we had some issues getting an early breakfast at the hotel.
As was usual over the past few days our first train was a peculiar shaped Regio 2N, taking us in one go from the Cannes La Bocca station, along all stations of the Côte d’Azur line, across the border into Ventimiglia in Italy. The first part of the route was the same as the one we travelled on to Monaco the day before which we wrote about before in detail.
In Ventimiglia we had some time to change trains, so we tried to find something to snack on during our long ride to Cuneo and Turin. We were chased out of the first shop after ordering some sandwiches (and not receiving them) for an unclear reason so we ended up grabbing some bread in a small bakery a bit further down the road.
After this slightly cold welcome in Italy our train to Cuneo showed up on the platform. It was a relatively new air-conditioned Minuetto Diesel unit. Sporting some comfortable faux-leather seats and power plugs to power all your necessary electronics. The route would be taking us along the bank of the river to exit the valley of Ventimiglia and slowly climb up into the mountains to pass through the Tenda Pass before descending into Cuneo. The most remarkable fact about the line is that while it is a domestic Italian rail connection starting and ending in an Italian station, it is running for a big part over French territory between Piene and Vievola, This is because France annexed a part of Italy in 1947 as a compensation for the damage of the Second World War. During this war the line originally opened in 1928 was closed for traffic between 1940 and 1979 before all damage was repaired. After entering Italy again the north part of the line starting at Limone is electrified and because of the denser population in this part also received a much denser train service. During the entire course the line offered some spectacular views and nature from both sides of the train.
As the train terminated in Cuneo we had to change trains, after Mike ran around the entire station to find a machine to validate his ticket, we could board our connecting train to Torino Porta Nuova just cross platform from our train from Cuneo. Our onward train was formed of Vivalto double-decker coaches, also air-conditioned but you could open all windows if you wanted to let in some warmer air. As apparently by now all schools had finished the train was jam packed with screaming school kids almost the entire route. After Cuneo the landscape is much flatter and offers you views of the Italian farmlands before making room for the suburbs of Turin. The only really spectacular view is the Bridge over the valley when turning out of Cuneo station.
After this very long ride we were happy to arrive into Turin and breathe some non-canned air. Luckily our hotel for the night, the Holiday Inn Turin City Centre, was right next to the station so we could check-in and drop our bags in no-time.