Mountain Magic

Mountain Magic

Monte Generoso

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Alarm Bells and Moving

The bells from the Piazza Roma church woke us from a very deep sleep again this morning. Our rather tired bodies were reluctant to leave the comfort of the bed (the Multipulciano red last night perhaps) however, we are not on holidays to sleep so we told our muscles to get moving in the direction of the shower. We also had to move rooms today so we wanted to get up and sort out some basic packing before we went down for breakfast. The room we were in was not available for the 4 nights when we booked online (reminder to book a little earlier once we are sure of the hotel we want to stay at!) and today was the move day.

Breakfast in the very quaint dining room was perfect. We opted not to eat supper last night (only our tasty cheese and salami rolls with the red wine we purchased at Carrefour) so our stomachs were rather relieved to have some sustenance for the morning. The staff at the Miralago are wonderful and breakfast is more of an experience than just a reason to eat something. It is nice to go down and say hello to them all in the morning.

Fortunately, the new room was ready soon after we finished breakfast so we finished our packing and moved downstairs to the larger corner room on the first floor – three balconies in this one! Maybe we need to stay longer!

Back To Switzerland

After the move was over we headed out of the hotel for a day in the mountains – Monte Generoso in Switzerland to be precise. We saw a brochure for Generoso when we arrived in the hotel and it looked perfect for a day of visiting the pre-Alps region just over the Italian-Swiss border.

However, before we went in search of some adventure at higher altitude, we wanted to find a restaurant in Como. Cafe Fietta is owned by the mother of one of the girls we met on the first day we arrived in Cernobbio (Sissi). We were keen to support Sissi’s mum by taking in some morning coffee and a croissant however, despite circumnavigating Como to find the “bar”, it was closed! What a pity. “There is always next time”.

With no other reason to stop in Como we re-programmed the GPS and asked “surfer dude” to take us to Capolago – the small village in Switzerland where we had to take the mountain train up to Monte Generoso.

The trip across the border was via the same route that we took yesterday so we made good time. Fortunately, we were going against the traffic because there was a lot of it going in the opposite direction. We learned late yesterday that today was a public holiday in Switzerland and this meant that there were quite a few cars on the road.

We arrived at the quaint railway station in Capolago just in time to see the small mountain train depart up the track. On purchasing our tickets we were told that it was another hour before the next train departed. A perfect opportunity to get the first coffee in post breakfast!

We walked across the street to the nearest coffee house and pulled up a table in the courtyard. With our best Italian (read close to nil) we ordered a tea and a coffee and settled in for 45 minutes. Actually, the waiting time gave us the chance to clean our camera gear and prepare ourselves for the trip up the mountain.

Up The Monte

We boarded the 1135 train a few minutes before it departed and settled into a window seat. The train left spot on time (must be wearing Swiss watches!) and headed effortlessly up the “cog wheel” track. The first train to run up the mountain ran around 1867 and was built to support a restaurant that Dr Carlo Posta set up on the mountain. You have to hand it to a man with vision!

The trip up to the 1700m summit took 40 minutes – a leisurely pace that allowed us to view some of the spectacular scenery en route. Indeed, we were able to stand up comfortably and video and photograph without any problems.

We disembarked alongside Ristorante Vetta (the terminus near the summit) and decided to have some lunch before we started trekking around the hiking trails near the station. We shared a very tasty pasta dish and washed it down with some white wine – seemed like the appropriate thing to do whist sitting on a verandah overlooking Lake Lugano some 4000′ below us! What a spectacular lunch venue!

The weather cleared a little as we were eating so we went walking in the direction of one of the lookouts near the station. The views were absolutely beautiful despite the haze and the overcast conditions. In some respects, it was nice to have a cold afternoon to move around the mountain top.

We took some time out just to sit in the lush grass and amongst the spring wildflowers and take in the atmosphere on top of Monte Generoso. Cow bells (on a local herd of dairy cows) were ringing in the background and the variety of accents from fellow tourists made the whole scene feel very surreal. In fact, I broke into “the hills are alive with the sound of music” on more than one occasion while we were up the hill.

Despite the temperature being on the low side and the clouds doing their best to hide the sun, the conditions seemed to be suitable for paragliding – so much so that a dozen or more enthusiasts launched themselves of the mountain and into the afternoon air. Watching the launch activity and viewing the colored shutes contrasting against the very green background was an easy way to pass some time! I offered to fund a ride for The Princess however she wasn’t too keen to throw herself off a very steep mountainside and into the Swiss air! Mind you, I wouldn’t have done it either.

Goat Track Trekking

We continued exploring the mountain top with a walk past the nearest farm house (very near) and through the herd of cows and goats that were grazing the slopes of Monte Generoso. The goats were actually heading back to the barn and were most interested in The Princess’ camera bag. They probably thought she had some food. The farmer’s familiar call convinced the goats that we were not the “hand that fed them” so the herd headed off to have their very full udders emptied in the quaint barn.

Despite the cows being most interested in the lush mountain grasses one of them paid particular attention to me as we walked by. I am not sure if she was just wanting to introduce herself or whether she was telling me to get off her “patch”. Either way, I wasn’t too keen to find out the answer and retreated to a slightly higher level on the steep slope. She left me alone and went on turning grass into milk.

The true summit of Monte Generoso is slightly higher than the area where the train terminates and we were keen to view the surrounding region from the very top. We negotiated the narrow track up the “back side” of the mountain just as clouds started forming across the ridge line. The site of warm air being condensed into cloud as it was pushed up the western side of the mountain was a sight that, meteorologically speaking, was worth experiencing. Even The Princess was impressed with Mother Nature’s display of cloud forming.

Just prior to reaching the summit we passed some newborn lambs and we enjoyed watching them bouncing around their mothers as they tried to gain strength in their spindly little legs. Another treat for us courtesy of Mother Nature!

Bird’s Eye View

The true summit offered views north to the Italian Alps all the way around to the most southern point of the Swiss Alps – wow! The foreground lakes – Como, Lugano and Maggiore split the pre-Alps into spectacular valleys and the ancient man made towns, train and road systems made the whole thing feel like a scene from a “miniature world” display. We felt like two birds looking down from a roosting nest and observing the land below.

With the cloud enveloping the mountain and the temperature dropping we made our way back down to the station. I warmed up my insides with a coffee before cooling them down again with a tasty ice cream that we both shared. What were we thinking? Ice cream on a cool mountain top in the pre-Alps of Switzerland. Our brains must have frozen during the time on the summit.

The trip back down on the electrified cog wheeled train took us through the cloud and into the warmer air. The return journey took exactly 40 minutes (not sure how that works given the pace of the descent) and we disembarked the train around 5.30 back at Capologo.

Alpine Exploring To Continue

If this is a precursor to what is in store for us when we head into Austria and Switzerland next week then “bring it on”. What a magic way to spend our last day of visiting the Lake Como area.

Final Night – Hotel Miralago

As we sit on one of the three balconies that overlooks the Piazza and Lake Como, we are reminiscing about the wonderful 4 day visit to this beautiful area. We are enjoying a pre-dinner treat (more salami and cheese) with the last of the Italian red before freshening up and heading out to eat.

The sights and sounds of the foot traffic below us are very interesting – they must have shopped at some of the technicolor garment shops that we saw yesterday. Maybe there is a fancy dress party in the local area? Or, maybe, I just don’t have any culture and need to “get with the program” of wearing clothes that cover the spectrum of the rainbow and spray enough perfume on my body to keep a French perfumery in business for a year. I suspect that the latter reason is the case however, as I down another spectacular Italian wine tonight I wont be putting a lot of mental energy into the state of Roey’s fashion sense.


The Long Way Down
Dual Fear
Princess On The Monte

Share This Post

Post to Twitter Post to Yahoo Buzz Post to Delicious Post to Digg Post to Facebook

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply