Having viewed Lac Leman (Lake Geneva) from Geneva and Montreux, we journeyed south via coach to Tasch to ride the cogwheel train from Tasch to Zermatt.
About 20 years ago, Zermatt realized they were developing a smog issue and all public vehicles (except outside construction) have been electric since the 1970s.
After a short walk from the station we arrived at the Alex Hotel. We checked in and were assigned an elegant suite with balcony overlooking the iconic peak, The Matterhorn.
The next morning, a part of our group of 37 ventured up the peak for Alpine views and the remainder of us enjoyed sunshine, hot chocolate, and strolls through the town.
Zermatt is at an elevation of 5,249ft and lies below the iconic Matterhorn peak. Its main street is lined with boutique shops, hotels and restaurants all with a lively après-ski scene.
Just a short walk from our hotel is the Matterhorn Museum.
The Museum has gathered cultural-natural displays of a Matterhorn village attempts to “conquer” the Matterhorn plus a number of significant artifacts are on display. It was an interesting place to spend an hour or so.
Our evening in Zermatt included a delicious dining experience where we got to know members of our group and prepared for our morning departure that included a coach ride over the Simplon Pass into Italy.
Napolean led his troops through Simplon Pass (6,578 ft.) on his grab for empire, but probably did not record the stellar views en route like our tour did. Our coach brought us to Baveno Piedmont Italy on Lake Maggiore in a cloud of rain. After checking into the hotel, a fairly large sub-set of the group boarded a boat for Isola Bella estate.
Isola Bella is a privately owned island with a Palace and lovely gardens.
Owned by the same family (bankers from Milan) since the mid 1600’s it was built to impress the guests and it clearly does that very well. Originally we had been hesitant to sign on for this optional tour as we had visited the Palace during our trip to the Lake District of Italy a few years ago. However, even in the rain the tour was wonderful (fortunately our tour was primarily for the interior of the Palace) as our guide
was very knowledgeable and brought the place to life during our tour. and even the rain outdoors didn’t dim the experience. Having been owned by the same family for generations,
it has been decorated over several decades, and reflects decorative changes, but always with a focus on impressing.
Multiple Venetian glass chandeliers reflect the intent. The Grotto, constructed in the lower level of the Palace, gives the impression of sea caves and is very creative and imaginative.
Despite a gentle drizzle, white peacocks roamed the gardens, and the dogwood and azaleas splashed color.
After completing the tour and visiting the gardens, we adjourned to a short boat ride to Fisherman’s island nearby, and a splendid Italian meal with music, wine and many courses.