My favorite way to get from north to south or vice versa is either by train, or, if the weather permits, by car over the St. Gotthard Pass (the mountain is closed during winter due to heavy snow). Named after Saint Gotthard, the Bishop of Hildesheim, this mountain has fascinated me since childhood, when my father drove my mother and me over the pass for the first time in his small VW bug. The history of Saint Gotthard and its importance as a route that connects the north and south of the continent dates back to Roman times. For those who are interested, here is a link to a short overview of its history.
St. Gotthard is a rough and, to me, mysterious, mountain. Even during the hottest days in summer, a cold breeze blows on top and if you get caught in a rain or snow storm, beware! The landscape is rocky, full of granite and gneiss. There is a museum, a chapel, a couple of modest but good restaurants and, in summer, a stand with barbecued sausages next to a beautiful lake.
I drove across the pass to the south of the country during a gorgeous, sunny day and the mountain showed its friendly face. Here are a few pictures.
|A cup of coffee and a snack to prepare for the drive through |
the lengthy tunnel or over the mountain
|View from the northern side|
|Wild mountain stream|
The highpoint of my drive over the mountain: this was the first time I saw the old Gotthard stagecoach that used to bring the mail and passengers across the mountain. Nowadays, it's a tourist attraction and can be rented for a fun ride and a time travel experience.
|Clean, clear but oh, so cold, water!|
|A monument at the top commemorating an airman who |
crashed while on military service in 1928.
|The simple but lovely mountain inn. It also houses a museum and a souvenir store|
And now, it's time for the drive down the southern face of the mountain toward the lovely canton Ticino.
Here, the grapes are already ripening, getting ready to be transformed into the delicious local wine: Merlot del Ticino or Nostrano!
I arrive in Biasca, a town in the northern part of the Ticino, where I spend a week with my dear friends and hosts Silvia and Curzio. And dinner at the grotto, the traditional Ticinese inn, is, of course, a must!
Yummy prosciutto, salami, and other delicacies, tasty bread, and a cup of Nostrano. What else could one wish for? A good meal and great company to end a marvelous day.
More next time!