The Posillipo cable car: story of an unfortunate adventure between Fuorigrotta and Via Manzoni

by Federico Quagliuolo

Those who, passing through the Cavalleggeri d'Aosta district, were not fascinated by the "Christ of Cavalleggeri ", the most looming of that row of gigantic and crumbling gray poles arrogantly placed among the buildings of the neighborhood? It is about the ancient Posillipo cableway, which connected Fuorigrotta with the Virgilian Park in just 6 minutes, between breathtaking views and journeys suspended in the void. They were nicknamed "a lookout plane“.

It was inaugurated in 1940 and abandoned in 1961: together with the destruction ofPiedigrotta ghost lift, with its closure yes isolated completely the posillipino district.

The Posillipo cable car: from Mostra d'Oltremare to Parco Virgiliano in 6 minutes

You entered the cable car as in a luxury hotel: to wait i 20 passengers that entered each cabin there were two employees in livery who managed the shifts. On the other hand, the fascist regime was keen to go big with the Fuorigrotta district and with the plant of the Mostra d'Oltremare made by Vincenzo Tecchio: was presented by the regime as the largest exhibition facility in Europe, amidst stunned tourists and journalists who filled the national front pages with enthusiastic comments. In the projects of 1939 Naples was to become the city "Showcase" for missions in the African colonies.

The project was entrusted to a very young Giulio De Luca, the same one who, fifty years later, was called to build the Management Center of Naples.

The cable car was inaugurated on May 6, 1940 and how first passengers had the king Vittorio Emanuele III, the Podestà, Vincenzo Tecchio and numerous others fascist hierarchs. It was a strange sensation that of literally fly over Naples, looking at the city from perspectives that only with moderns drones we could rediscover today (… even if it is illegal to fly over cities!).

The Posillipo cable car: story of an unfortunate adventure between Fuorigrotta and Via Manzoni
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For the men of 1940, however, it was all wonder among the Bagnoli chimneys and the countryside surrounding the young Viale Augusto and Giulio Cesare, recently built. And then the cable car arrived in Via Manzoni, a few steps from another very important public work recently built: the Virgilian Park.

The operating hours were also very long: from 10 to midnight, futuristic even by modern standards of the Naples metro, and the races were one every 20 minutes, with the price of 3 lire for a single trip and 5 for a / r (half for the kids!).

The idyll, however, lasted a short time: Italy entered the war five months after the inauguration and the plant was completely destroyed by Germans in 1943, together withPiedigrotta lift.

construction of the Posillipo station
The construction of the Posillipo station

A short life for the Posillipo cable car

After the war the cable car was put back in order thanks to public funds for reconstruction: in contrast of the elevator, which remained abandoned, returned in 1950 to carry passengers, but the project it lasted very little: was closed in 1961 because withholding dangerous: the new ones were popping up like mushrooms high-rise buildings in Rione Cavalleggeri d'Aosta, which they did not respect any safety distances and, especially in the days of wind they did swinging the cable car dangerously, it was not possible to guarantee the usability conditions of the vehicle.

The rest is not easy to understand. Eduardo Bevere explains that, after 1980, it was illegally occupied the Posillipo station building by a person who destroyed the entire archive of ATAN. There was also another occupant, the homeless D'Angelo, which occupied the panoramic rooms until the early 2000s.

Inauguration of the Posillipo cable car
The inauguration of the Posillipo cableway, renovated on 4 July 1953. Photograph by Coal Archive

Why was it never rebuilt?

A difficult question. The Municipality of Naples also tried to sell stations and pylons in 2006 and 2010, but the auctions went deserted. If the pylons were in good condition, the two structures are in a very bad state. TO Fuorigrotta there's a flower shop on the ground floor, while the upper floor even hosts a surviving cabin. TO Posillipo, on the other hand, the structure is in full condition forfeiture, although it has repeatedly suffered a few attempts to transformation into a restaurant. The buildings still remain therefore abandoned today.

Yet today, among the cars stuck in the traffic of Viale Kennedy and Via Manzoni and among the houses that live in the shadow of Christ by Cavalleggeri (who also has a fan page on Facebook), there is the memory of when from Fuorigrotta to Posillipo it was reached by flying on the Posillipo cable car.

-Federico Quagliuolo

Posillipo cableway
The pylons of the Posillipo cable car today, wedged between the buildings
Posillipo cableway
The Posillipo cable car under construction, photo from the Alinari archive

The story is dedicated to Marilena Taglialatela Scafati for her generous donation. Support Naples Stories too!

References:
Eduardo Bevere Gerardo Chiaro, Andrea Cozzolino, History of urban transport in Naples and interurban lines managed by Satn and municipalized, Calosci, 1999
Achille della Ragione, up and down from Posillipo between funiculars and cable cars
https://corrieredelmezzogiorno.corriere.it/napoli/cronaca/16_aprile_09/cinque-lire-andata-ritorno-storia-funivia-abbandonata-dell-uomo-che-visse-stazione-33d1d91a-fe3a-11e5-b880-2a22625e1562.shtml

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