To the classic historiographical thesis, the railways history in Italy has to be read through an interpretative point of view mainly economical (relationship between railways and industrial development, so, more generally, economical). The essay offers a different reading which considers rather the connection between railways and big social transformations. Particularly, these infrastructures helped not only the movement of both local and foreign entrepreneurs, but also of women and university students. At the same time, on tracks began to carry newspapers and magazines of various kinds, with many luxury goods (marbles and precious furniture) increasingly requested by the urban middle classes. The great protagonist of the railways inquiry will be the middle-class, that asks to improve the road conditions for leisure and culture reasons. At the end of the nineteenth century, in fact, will be born the great phenomenon of mass tourism. However, the writer points out also the limits of these infrastructures: they, firstly, created a regional market in place of the national one and secondly, unlike the English case, they didn’t press for the birth of basic and mechanical industries. The concession companies, in fact, most of them foreign, bought throughout the nineteenth century the fixed and mobile material from European industries, most of all the Swiss and German ones.
Keywords: Railways; Entrepreneurship; Sicily; Tourism.