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Parenzana – Put zdravlja i prijateljstva

The narrow gauge Poreč – Trieste railway, popular Parenzana, was put into operation in 1902. Its purpose was to connect the poorest regions of the north-east part of the peninsula with large city markets which sold wine, olive oil, fruit, vegetables, wheat, wood, stone, and other products of Istria. The ride along the 123 km long route was 7 hours and 20 minutes long at the top speed of only 25 km/h. The legend tells that, following the route closure in 1935 due to operating unprofitability considering a faster and cheaper passenger and cargo transport by buses, the tracks were dismounted and ordered by Mussolini to be transported by ship to Abyssinia (today Ethiopia). They never reached Africa as the ship was sunk by Allied air forces. However, historical sources say that the railroad cars, tracks and other material was sold at the public auction. The current witness of this railway route is its alignment and preserved construction remains – a large number of railroad facilities, as many as 11 bridges, viaducts and tunnels which tell a story of this remarkable construction endeavour. The most interesting section of the route stretches from Grožnjan to Oprtalj and Livade, containing as many as four out of the overall six viaducts, and six out of the overall nine tunnels along the tracks.

Following years of neglect, the Region of Istria and its Slovenian partners, the cities of Koper, Izola and Piran revived the route by EU funds as a pedestrian and cycling path. It has officially become known as Parenzana – the route of health and friendship and the best used tourist route in Istria, a special attraction which, due to rails adjustment to terrain features, winds along the rolling Istrian hills, opening the views of breathtaking landscapes. The Parenzana Museum was opened in Izola in 2000. In 2007, the railway station in Livade became the home of the Parenzana permanent exhibition.