Recent Posts



No tags yet.

This extraordinary literal and figurative link between Vienna & Venice

‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ the movie.

The movie actually drew my attention to the concept of this story.

I love everything ‘arty’- from independent cinema, to arty films, to Woody Allen’s antics, paintings, artistic provocateurs, theatrics, jazz, neo-soul, stage and art creativity, foreign movies, travel, poetry, book culture, French vintage, shabby chic interior. The list could go on and on. Studying English Lit has naturally formed me into becoming a story teller and a sucker for art, creativity and romance.

I draw life’s inspiration from the phenomenon of art.

‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ was released in 2003 and directed by Audrey Wells. I generally think men are iconic directors. However, on this occasion, no one could have directed this movie better than Wells. She also wrote and produced it but gave an obvious, personal and artistic vision to the script.

The film is about a recently divorced writer who buys a villa in Tuscany on a whim, hoping it will lead to a change in her life. It’s a simple story yet written in a sophisticated and complex thought process.

Without going deep into the plot, Frances (lead actress) is in conversation with Martini, the realtor who helped her negotiate the purchase of the villa. He says to her in a conversation which stood out ever so poignantly in this movie for me:

“Signora, between Austria and Italy, there is a section of the Alps called the Semmering. It is an impossibly steep, very high part of the mountains. They built a train track over these Alps to connect Vienna and Venice. They built these tracks even before there was a train in existence that could make the trip. They built it because they knew some day, the train would come.”

And yes a train, not just one BUT SEVERAL currently run through the railway to date.


It’s incredible. Fascinating. Mind blowing.

How please?

How have these workers done it? Construct a railway with no insight or information on estimated measurements of the width of the trains, its technology, or as a matter of fact, the type of train that may eventually run through the tracks? It’s incredible.

I have read a bit about the Semmering railway, the history of its design and development. I am fascinated by it all. Semmering itself is a town in the district of Neunkirchen, popular for skiing in the State of Lower Austria. The railway is documented to be the first ever in Europe but also commonly referred to as the first in the world, constructed in 1848 to 1854 stretching around 41km.

My friend’s daughter is currently skiing there at the moment on a school excursion.

Designed by a man called Karl Ritter von Ghega, he was born in Venice, to an Albanian family. Upon the implementation of his genius design, the crossing of the Semmering was not even believed to be possible. He however went ahead and initially transported 5000 men from Vienna to begin construction. He rejected the use of iron and steel to build as a matter of ethical principle which explains the ‘bricked railway’ concept.

See picture (google images).

Ghega died in Vienna from tuberculosis before its completion and obviously, (I assume) never saw a train cross the Semmering.

I hear or read about stories of this nature and it just gives me so much hope that one can achieve anything they set to achieve. Anything. It’s like learning about the history of Stonehenge and how it was constructed. And that’s one for another day!

It makes me question in my mind - who the hell are these super-humans who lived in the mediaeval/renaissance ages with tremendous sophisticated minds

But legacy is one of the greatest things on earth.

Ghega is gone but his legacy lives on and will do till the end of time. This is what I call legendary leadership. A leadership that leaves a legacy for generations to come is the greatest leadership one can ever achieve.

So I am off to Austria in a few weeks to surprise someone for his birthday. He loves war history. He has no idea where we are off to. He will be so inundated with information on post 2nd world war history and a few planned jaunts to Nazi war cemeteries, war sites, war museums etc. But I am going to endeavour to visit the Semmering. It’s actually a UNESCO world heritage site, why not? But Vienna is also a beautiful, romantic and scenic city.

With Ghega and his 20,000 workers, they never lived to see or experience today’s railway run trains on those tracks. They never lived to see this substantial incredible design and hard work they put into transporting millions of people from one city to the other. But as it stands, it remains a continuing testament to their insightful, futuristic and incredible engineering genius.

There was no question in their minds that eventually, one day Vienna and Venice will connect and the train arrives.

Today I ponder about life and crossroads…voila!


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • SoundCloud
  • LinkedIn

copyright © 2020 june okochi