THE FIRST CABLE CAR IN THE WORLD
One of the best views of South Tyrol is to be found in the small hamlet of Colle near Bolzano. Located at around a thousand metres above sea level and encircled by woods criss-crossed with weaving hiking trails and mountain bike routes, the hamlet is easily accessible from Bolzano by means of the Colle cable car, the first passenger cable car in the world. The cable car was the brainchild of Josef Staffler, a hotelier from Bolzano, who commissioned its construction exactly 110 years ago. In 1899 he bought one of the stately manors of Colle and converted it into a hotel. Although the views were breathtaking the area was remote in the extreme; in the certainty that it would lure holidaymakers to the isolated spot, Staffler commissioned a company in Vienna to build the aerial lift. The first passenger cable car was inaugurated on 29 June 1908.
It was such a novelty for the time that it wasn’t long before the news made its way around the world, and over one hundred thousand inquisitive passengers stepped into its cabins over the following two years. Although it was shut down for reasons of security in 1910 Josef Staffler did not lose heart, and three years later he opened a more robust dual-cable system with more spacious cabins.
The new cable car was in regular use for thirty years before it was destroyed by shelling during the Second World War. From that point onwards, the hamlet fell into a state of continual decline until the 1960s when the cable car was rebuilt and Staffler's hotel was taken over by the Schrott family of hoteliers, who still run it to this day. Nowadays, the fully-renovated Colle cable car forms part of Bolzano’s public transport network and runs every season of the year.
The mountain station is always worth a trip: in memory of Staffler’s pioneering spirit, two of the original carriages are exhibited here.