Well I have fallen in love with train travel in Italy. Last trip I came home stiff as a board because I spent 3 weeks bracing myself for a head-on collision on the Italian motorways or the windy, narrow roads of the Amalfi Coast. Not because Bob is a bad driver- just because the speeds are far higher in Italy on their freeways, we travel on the opposite side of the road to what we obviously do in Australia and the roads of the Amalfi coast are extremely scenic but really only designed for one car not two.
So as we planned this trip I said: “We are training it, not driving!!”. Bob was a little disappointed as he loves driving and last time we were upgraded from a little Nissen matchbox to a stylish red Audi which completely felt at home on the beautiful Amalfi coast. ‘Training’ in Europe is very easy and even with our ridiculously big, overstuffed bags we are loving it.
The next leg of the trip after Barcelona involved flying into Zurich and then catching the train to St Moritz. The trains are very punctual and clean (in Switzerland) and I think Bob is now enjoying the freedom of admiring the scenery instead of worrying about which turnoff to take and what that perilously, close truck is doing next.
St Moritz is a very pretty town on a lake and if you stay 2 nights in any hotel in summer ALL the trains and funiculars and cable cars are free. We took advantage of this and went to two of these mountain top resorts- Piz Nair and Muottas Muragi. After travelling to the top of Piz Nair in a cable car, we came back down to Corvigular and then walked (approx 2 hours) back to St Moritz. It was quite chilly early in the morning when we set off (-4 degrees), but was quite warm on the way down, stripping off layer upon layer the longer we walked. Once back in St Moritz we headed on the bus (again free) to the next funicular up to Muottas Muragi.
Up the top here there is a hotel appropriately called Hotel Romantik (141Swiss Francs per night). It is a boutique hotel of only 16 rooms but the views are spectacular. There are many walks (and mountain bike tracks) that you can take from here or you could just base yourself here, on the deck of Hotel Romantik overlooking those magnificent mountains sipping a hot chocolate or whatever, feeling blissfully peaceful.
We headed off the next day on a very special train- The Bernina Express- a lovely birthday present for both of us from my Mum- which travels through the Alps. To say it is scenic is an understatement and miraculously, (only because as I have been watching the St Moritz weather for about 6 months and it has rained continuously for the last four weeks there before we departed on the trip) it was the most magnificent weather. Brilliant sunshine and very, very clear.
I would recommend this journey to anyone travelling to Switzerland as it isn’t too long (only about two hours whereas the Glacier Express is about 8 hours) and the scenery is superb.
We caught the next train from Tirano on the Italian border to a little town called Varenna, on Lake Como. This is a little undiscovered gem- well only undiscovered in my eyes because no Aussie I have spoken to about our trip has heard of it. Everyone thinks I have a broad accent and mean Verona.
We stayed at Hotel Olivedo which is run by a lovely lady called Laura who works from dawn till midnight running the show very efficiently. She also has a beautiful restaurant attached to the hotel where we started our Varenna food experience with some delicious home made spinach and ricotta ravioli. It sits right at the ferry terminal, the main means of transport around Lake Como and very close to the train station.
The rooms are decorated in a very ‘old world’ look adding beautiful atmosphere and are very comfortable with spectacular views over the lake. The vibrancy of Varenna was wonderful and I would definitely recommend this lakeside town as a stopover on the way to Florence.
After 2 days exploring Varenna, Bellagio, Lenna and Menaggio – all fantastic villages, with great shopping, Italian food and too much gelati- we then hopped back on the train to Florence. We had two intensive days of Florentine art and culture, surely walking off most of those delicious gelatis and next we head to Positano to start the 60th birthday celebrations for Bob.
I can’t think of a more beautiful place for him to see in 60 and I am looking forward to one of the highlights for me- The Path of the Gods- a walk right across the top of the mountains above Positano.
For all those who follow my blog, hoping for a ‘prompt’ for doing your homework, then you know what you have to do day in day out!
And for those who are wondering why such detail about this trip, that ISN’T pelvic floor related, I’m finding it difficult to remember what we did a week ago when we embarked on this trip, as there has been so much fun and so I am self-indulging by writing it, mostly to look back and embed those beautiful memories in my brain to treasure forever.
#Italy #Gelati #Italybeautifulonedayperfectthenext