Italy-Switzerland – Daily Journal

Journal of “Just Walking Together” –  Just the two of us!

Milan to Cinque Terra (Vernazza)
8/30:  Got off the ship/plane without incident and found Ron at the Milan train station, right as scheduled! (Glad I didn’t have to figure out his emergency instructions in case he didn’t show up!). While waiting for him I figured out how to take the subway to the Duomo, climbed to the roof spires and toured the beautiful inside of the cathedral before walking back to the train station. I was really sweaty by the time I kissed him hello! We just caught the train to Vernazza and found a room by a babbling creek. It was as easy as just walking down the street and asking the locals about rooms to rent. Lovely dinner in the plaza (Trattoria del Capitano). We’re glad we made it to Cinque Terra!

8/31:  Today was an interesting day. Moved our stuff to Gianni’s and were on the trail by 10:15. Spectacular views and ledges. An Italian led us to his town of St. Bernadino up in the vineyards. We picked berries along the way. He sent us up to the high trail which was straight up for an hour without views, then BACK down an hour finally to Corniglia. Had a good pizza lunch and went on to Manarola where we both went for a refreshing swim in our underwear (why not?). On to Riomaggiore at the end but found no boat going back. We took the train back to Monterosso to catch it back to Vernazza but watched it go by since we were on the wrong track! Walked back to Vernazza only to find our room was given away! Found another apartment overlooking the plaza, got our refund back for not having a boat running after much arguing with the train clerk (I wasn’t leaving without my money – I’m a lion!) and had a nice dinner. My body hurts! We weren’t intending to walk the whole trail plus an extra two hours in one day – 12 miles! Settled in for a nice dinner at (Trattoria da Piva/RISTORANTE INCADASE), here we enjoy the local special zuppa provenzale, a hearty Ligurian bouillabaisse, while Ron ate a plate of anchovies.

9/1:  Looking back on yesterday’s fiascos, we reaped the benefits today – total relaxation. We moved to our new room with a balcony overlooking the coastline, then headed for the harbor swim area where we spent the day. Saving ourselves $30. Then reading in the garden of our hotel which overlooked the ocean, sipping wine. After dinner (Ristorante Bar Belforte, built into the old castle overlooking the water with an American waiter, Ron tried the fresh anchovies here), we wandered the narrow alleys and ate our gelato. A nice day and end to our time in Cinque Terra!

Vernazza to Lake Como (Griante-Cadenabbia)
9/2:  Another beautiful day in Vernazza with now the boats going and of course we had to catch our train to Lake Como, after walking the hillside of Vernazza. We found storage in the Milan train station for my luggage with only minutes to spare. Got off the train at Varenna, then took the ferry across Lake Como to Griante – Cadenabbia and walked to Alberghetto Mariana our B&B. We did the strenuous hike up to San Martino Church, 1000 ft. up and had spectacular views. We ended the day with a wonderful dinner by the owner at the lakeside (La Cucina della Marianna).

9/3:  What a great day – beautiful weather, a boat ride to Dongo, walk to Gravedona and a boat ride back. We took the bus to Menaggio, had an excellent authentic dinner, concert in the plaza and a 45 min. walk back along the lake. We saw lots of sailboats, a German son and mother who we chatted with on the boat, and had a chance to talk with Corrie who had a good trip to Russia.  We sampled our first Pizzocheri (Albergo Ristorante  Meneghet).

Griante-Cadenabbia to Val Bregeglia (Soglio)
9/4:  Another wonderful breakfast on the lake, a walk through Griante and above and catching the bus (an anxious 10 min. of tardiness) to Mennagio – then the Swiss bus (also 10 min. anxiety) up the lake and valley to just across the border in Switzerland. How prices jump just across the border! Another bus took us up 1000 ft. to Soglio with narrow cobblestone walking streets, old stone wooden houses with slate roofs. The views across the valley of high Alpen peaks were spectacular1 We walked outside the town for photo ops then the other side to read on a bench until sunset. A good but expensive dinner (Hotel Palazzo Salis) and a starry night stroll through the town. What an incredible spot of God’s creation!

9/5: Another beautiful sunny day in Soglio! Breakfast in the kitchen – picked berries and yogurt, dark bread with lots of good butter – yum! Caught the 9:22 bus – 18 Fks up to Casaccia, but no bank! So an hour later and three hitch hikes down to a bank and back, we finally had $ in our pockets to pay the rent and began the 4 ½ hour treck back to Soglio. Lots of flowers, vistas, clouds and peaks, lunch at a halfway hutte, bratwurst and suppe, nusstorte and bier. We made it back at 4;30 to ice my foot, pick berries and watch the Alpen glow. Then homemade pasta – veggies and ice cream and berries. Tomorrow 4000 ft. up!

Hut hiking to Capanna di Sciora (Hut)
9/6:  Enjoyed our last breakfast of berries and yogurt, butter and bread and hiked 45 min. down (1,000ft) (and some up!) to Promontogno. Over to Bondo and then up, up and up we went to climb 4000 ft. in five hours, including lunch and rest stops. Peaks always in the clouds. At the Sciora Hut it was foggy the rest of the afternoon and evening. So sad. We read, played cards, had a hearty meal and listened to a lot of German. Slept well in our 8 bed bunk room.

Oberengadin- Hut hiking to Coaz Hut
9/7:  Woke up to clouds clearing and peaks seeing the sun. Spectacular! Simple breakfast and down we went – 4000 ft. again. But not as bad as I thought it would be. Thank God for poles!  Caught 11:35 bus to Silvaplana – walked 30 min. to the Corvatsch Bahn ($20/ea) – clear blue sky. Hiked 45 min. to the crest and had lunch overlooking the valley we were hiking up with the glacier at the end. Spectacular again! The hike was up and down, lots of water crossings, some a little treacherous, and finally to the hut Coaz perched on a rock beside the glacier. We were very tired by the time we put our packs down and had a bier at 5 pm. Only 4 were there but 10 came by 7 pm who hiked the Bernina trek. 7 Belgian men and 3 German ladies. We had pizzocheri made especially for Ron, ate too much as usual. Cozy inside but cool outside. Slept well.

Muottas Muragl
9/8:  Woke up to clear blue skies! Walked down – lots of photo stops for Ron – 8 km to Pontresina – my feet and legs ached! Made great connections with the bus to the Bergbahn up to Muottas Muragl. Wow, what a view of lake, peaks, towns and glaciers. We were too tired to do much but eat our lunch, drink beer and read on a bench. Dinner was 175 Fr. But the sunset was spectacular! And then the stars! And a long hot shower.
Hut hiking to – Georgy Hut

9/9:  Great night sleep and another cloudless sky – God is so good! A yummy breakfast and by 8:45 we were on our way. First a steady switch back climb (reminded me of the Sierras) to a restaurant Segantini on a ridge. We followed the hillside high up until the base of Piz Languard. A steep but well marked trail with lots of switchbacks took us up to Georgy Hutte at 3200 m. Ate our lunch and headed up 20 min. steep but do-able trail to Piz Languard. It was so calm, clear and breathtaking that we just stayed up there an hour and didn’t want to leave. The views were 360 with gliders whizzing by. We reluctantly headed down to the hut and just relaxed the afternoon away. Dinner was lots of spaghetti, then dessert watching the sunset. Playing cards until the stars came out – saw Andromeda, 2 nebulae and the rest. Great camaraderie and conversation.

Valposchiavo – Hut hiking to Refugio Saosea Hut
9/10:  Woken up at 6:30 by our hut host to see the sunrise. Quite lovely. Simple breakfast then we all six headed down the mountain. At Bernina Suot we caught the train. Amazing train ride over the Bernina Pass and down the other side – steep mountainside, tunnels, waterfalls, glaciers, and peaks floating in and out of the clouds. We kept changing our seats to get a better view. Got off in Poschiavo and caught the local bus up to Sfazu. Had capenet for lunch and then walked (my desire) up more than we’d hope to do up to Saosea Refugio Hutte with peaks all around and lots of cows. Picked lots of raspberries along the way. A shower was heaven even if it cost. Dinner was excellent, always too much food, so we walked a few bites off in the dusk.

Final day back at Lake Como – Bellano/Oro
9/11: No rain yet, but noisy cow bells all night1 How do they eat in the dark? Enjoyed our raspberries for breakfast, hiked up to the tiny lake Saoseo before walking down to Sfazu and hitch hiking a ride back to Poschiavo and the COOP where we did our shopping for home with the rest of our francs. We caught the train by minutes to Tirano – then on the Bellano – walked 30 min. UP to our B & B – lovely overlooking the lake – a nice breeze and enjoyed a beer with a view. We walked back to town and toured the church and the gorge ‘Orrido’. The walk back was much easier without our packs! (and some gelato). We had a most exquisite dinner cooked by the landlady of fresh local fish from the lake, pasta, vegetable, salad, dessert and wines with the lights of the villages around the lake twinkling. It was truly a wonderful last evening of our walking together!

9/12: A quick ride by hour hosts, we caught the train to Milan which was only a short 1 hour trip, then on to the airport and our flight back to SFO.