Poggioreale Station, Italy

An interesting passage in From Russia With Love is as the Orient Express leaves the station of Sežana and heads into Italy.

Then Yugoslavia was gone and Poggioreale came and the first smell of the soft like with the happy jabbering of the Italian officials and the carefree upturned faces of the station crowd. The new diesel-electric engine game a slap-happy whistle, the meadow of brown hands fluttered, and they were loping easily down into Venezia, toward the distant sparkle of Trieste and the gay blue of the Adriatic.

When looking at the geography of the area, there is no city of Poggioreale in the area of Trieste. John Griswold makes the following comment in his outstanding book:

NOTE3: The city of Poggioreale, Italy, was mentioned as one of the cities that the Simplon-Orient Express traveled through on its way to Trieste. When researching the path of the Simplon-Orient Express, only two locations in Italy could be found for Poggioreale. One was located on the Italian island of Sicily and the other was in Naples. Neither of these is on the route of the Simplon-Orient Express going to Trieste, Italy.

I was prepared to accept that, and just write it off as creative license being exercised by Fleming, or perhaps even a mistake. But as I studied the route of the Orient Express, there was a station between when they left Yugoslavia in Sežana and before they arrived in Trieste. Nothing I could find however, attached the name of Poggioreale to it.

Then I stumbled across a 1950 article from the Chicago Tribune, in which the writer chronicled his efforts to travel from Rome to Belgrade, mostly via train.

He wrote:

The next afternoon, I rode the stub train 18 miles from Trieste to Poggioreale Campagna, on the border of the free zone.

Board Another Train

At Poggioreale, we left the train and boarded another for Sezana, five miles away, across the boundary in Yugoslavia. At Sezana, we hooked onto the Simplon-Orient Express.

The station that sits five miles across the border from Sezana is Villa Opicina. Further digging ensued. The original name of the town was Opcina – Slavic in origin. During WWII the name was changed to the more Italian Villa Opicina. But then the town was renamed by the Fascists to Poggioreale del Carso.

In 1966, the name was changed back to Villa Opicina. But in 1956 when Fleming was writing From Russia With Love, the town and station name was indeed Poggioreale!

Stazione Poggioreale Campagna was the official name of the train station there which, like the town, is now renamed Villa Opicina.

Original passenger building on left.
Original passenger building on left.

villa-opicina

So once again, even in the small details, Ian Fleming gets it right, even when it doesn’t appear to be the case at first glance.

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