A train ride that every mountain, nature and – why not! – shopping lover should make at least once in their lifetime. It’s the Bernina Express red train, which rides from Italy across the Swiss border and on a mountain pass. Book your panoramic seat and be prepared to savour two different cultures and to admire the breathtaking landscape, both in summer and winter.
The departure is from Tirano, in the upper Valtellina, and the route runs in two and a half hours on altitudes ranging from 429 meters to 1800 meters. The arrival is in St. Moritz via the Bernina Pass, 2235 m heigh above sea level.
For those who wish to fully enjoy the snowy landscapes and panoramic views, it’s possible to book a seat in the carriages with domed panoramic windows. Bare in mind that the ride is recognised as UNESCO World Heritage for the union of landscape, art and engineering.
The ride starts by crossing the Italian villages, traveling right next to the road. Then off for a first climb through the Brusio viaduct, built with a helical shape to enable the rail network to overcome a steep slope .
Going through old farmsteads and increasingly dense snow, the train reaches the stop in Alp Grum. Here you may admire a view that crosses the provincial border between the mountains of Sondrio and Bergamo, with frozen waterfalls and stalactites.
Next stop is the official border between Italian and German language, between Poschiavo and the Engadine. Here the train reaches the higher altitude and the spectacle of a reservoir consisting of two lakes. The White and the Black Lake, whose names come from the waters’ color. In fact, the White Lake has a gradient similar to milk because of ice rocks’ erosion; on the other hand, Lej Nair has darker shades, it’s smaller and flows into the Danube before reaching the Black Sea. During the coldest months the lakes are partially frozen and covered with white snow, so that the boundaries of their shores are almost undetectable.
Soon after, the train arrives to Morteratsch. From here a dirt path leads to the Bernina glacier. Along the way you may find curious signs about how much the glacier has retreated over the years.
Pontresina follows, a popular tourist resort with legendary hotels and plenty of sport activities. Its name seems to derive from an ancient Arab passage.
Finally, here’s St. Moritz, the terminus of the railway line. This is undoubtedly the most renown resort area, right in the heart of the Alps, known as the Top of The World for the internationally recognised charm.
Even St. Moritz overlooks a lake, which is also frozen over in winter; the surface is so durable, though, that it can accommodate snow polo competitions and horse racings. The pointed roofs and the typical bell tower frame the panorama with a romantic touch, well matched by the mundane side made of luxurious shops and 5 star hotels. Protagonists here are the unbridled luxuries int Valentino’s windows, the roars of Lamborghini engines, and the soft furs of the tourists.
A fondue may delight the palate after the trip, accompanied by speck and potatoes, enjoyed while sitting at a wooden table and in front of a fireplace.