Mon, 20 Jun 2011 13:39:49 GMT
Rail Europe asked travel writers Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries to pinpoint their favourite short rail journey in the Alps. Susanne and Nicky are the editors of hidden europe magazine. The two women also edit Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide for Independent Travellers. The latest edition of the book was published earlier this month.
There are four rail routes that link Switzerland and Italy, and each is in its own way worth a journey. Two of the lines bore through tunnels carrying names that are hugely evocative of Alpine travel: the Simplon
and the Gotthard
. These routes have tamed the mountains and, although they have their fair share of decent scenery, they have none of the adventure of the other two routes that connect Italy with Switzerland.
The Bernina route from Tirano to Pontresina and the Centovalli link from Domodossola to Locarno are rail routes that climb over the mountains, rather than tunnelling through them. And both journeys provide a more intimate connection with the Alpine landscape than you’ll ever secure on the Gotthard or Simplon routes.
We rode the Centovalli Railway, a lovely run through the mountains that swept us from spring to winter and back to spring again. There were camellias aplenty at both ends of the route, a sharp contrast to the lingering snow in the mountain villages and high valleys served by this extraordinary railway. “Were it not for the train, I’d never leave Verdasio,” said the elderly woman who stood with us on the station platform as we waited for the slow train down to Locarno. The Centovalli Railway really is a lifeline for the communities it serves.
You can travel from Domodossola to Locarno
in just under two hours, but our advice is to stop off here and there along the way. Particularly on the eastern part of the line beyond the Swiss border, trains are very frequent. So if you do just hop off on a whim, you’ll never have to wait more than an hour for the next onward train.
Druogno and Re, both in Italy, each warrant a stop, and then the Swiss villages of Verdasio and Intragna each deserve an hour or two. This route offers Alpine rail travel at its best.
tickets are valid, as indeed is the Swiss Pass
. Domodossola is just over an hour away from Milan
, easily reached from Paris on a TGV Lyria
service. Return tickets from London start at just £123.
What's the most beautiful train journey you've ever been on? Share your thoughts with other Train of Thought readers in the comments box below...
1 comment(s) so far...
By Degsy on
Tue, 21 Jun 2011 15:57:14 GMT
Re: Destination ideas: Italy to Switzerland on the Centovalli Railway
I travelled down the length of Vietnam on sleeper trains a good few years back. That was pretty spectacular!