Meet The Stray Railway Dog Who Became Everyone's Best Friend

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Campiglia Marittima is a small coastal city in Italy that has an old-world charm. Visitors can see centuries-old buildings, beautiful panoramic views of the ocean, and other historical landmarks. One of the city's most famous sights is a statue at the Campiglia Marittima railway station. The statue depicts a dog with one of its paws out as if waiting for a handshake from visitors. By his feet is a signaling disc and a railway station master's cap (via History of Yesterday). The statue was erected to honor a real dog who once roamed the railway station and traveled to different places by hopping on trains.

In 1953, American sailors brought a puppy with them when they traveled to Italy, and the dog became a stray. In August of that same year, stationmaster Elvio Barlettani and his daughter, Mirna, saw the stray dog get off a train at the Campiglia Marittima station. Mirna immediately took a liking to the dog and begged her father to let her keep it, and Barlettani agreed, but only for one night. By the next day, however, the little girl had fallen in love with the dog, and Barlettani didn't have it in him to separate the two.

Italy's traveling dog

Elvio Barlettani and Mirna decided to name the dog Lampo, which means "lightning" in Italian. Mirna and Lampo were inseparable, and Barlettani grew to love the dog, too. As noted by History of Yesterday, Lampo always accompanied Barlettani whenever he took his daughter to school and picked her up via the train. The dog was also Barlettani's little companion when he worked on trains. However, Lampo also liked to travel to different places alone. He hopped on and off trains by himself, and the Barlettanis weren't worried, as he always made his way back home at the end of the day.

According to Barlettani, as reported by Unusual Info, Lampo knew the difference between an express train and a slow train, and he also knew the schedule of departures. "But he always made sure he would not go beyond a certain spot on a map, so as to catch the proper connection which would take him back to Campiglia Marittima before dawn," Barlettani said. Lampo was friendly, but not everyone appreciated his presence. Some passengers complained aboutt the dog freely roaming on train cars without a leash or muzzle, and Barlettani was told that he had to get rid of him. Lampo was sent to Naples aboard a train, but just a few days later, he was back at Campiglia Marittima. Barlettani then decided to send Lampo to a relative, but after a month, the dog was back at the train station again.

Lampo's popularity skyrocketed

News spread about Lampo's adventures aboard trains and how he always came back to his family in Campiglia Marittima. He was featured on news reports and TV programs all across Italy, and he even made it on the cover of the American magazine, This Week (via History of Yesterday). As his popularity grew, train passengers no longer complained about him, and they befriended the dog.

Barlettini reported that Lampo made as many as 3,000 trips. In one instance, he received a call from a colleague who worked at a train station in Rome, asking him whether he should put Lampo on a train back home to Campiglia Marittima. Barlettini refused the offer, knowing that Lampo would be able to get back home without help. Later that night, Lampo returned back home safe and sound, per Unusual Info. Despite going on his adventures, Lampo never neglected his duty of accompanying Mirna to and from school "Since he had the job of escorting my daughter Mirna to school every morning, he made only short trips on schooldays and saved his longer journeys for weekends," Barlettini said.

Lampo's death

On July 22, 1961, Lampo met his untimely death at the Campiglia Marittima station. A cargo train, which was not on schedule, accidentally ran over him. Lampo knew all the schedules of the trains, and he did not anticipate the arrival of that particular one. According to History of Yesterday, the locomotive driver who hit Lampo was devastated about the accident, and with tears in his eyes, alerted Elvio Barlettini of the sad news. Lampo was buried by a tree at the railway station that he considered home. His statue was erected shortly after his death.

Elvio Barlettini honored his loyal companion by writing a book about him titled "Lampo, the Traveling Dog," which was released in 1963. It tells the story of how Barlettini met Lampo, up until his death. Today, many still pay tribute to the intelligent dog who was able to travel to different places alone but always returned to his loving family.