From Zurich we drove to the famous ski resort town of St. Moritz. The road to St. Moritz took us through some incredible scenery. Nature was generous to this country and well endowed it with magnificent mountains and stunning lakes. Two sights were ubiquitous along the route: cows and road workers. The ever perfectionist Swiss were busy fixing the imperfections in the asphalt to make the road match the countryside around it.
The hotel we are in is all understated elegance, transplanting me mentally to an era long gone. It was built at the end of the 19th century and the photographs on the walls show the newly built hotel with hoarse-drawn carriages in front and skiers in comical attire equipped with funny-looking skis.
The town itself is not the most architecturally significant but is located on the shores of a magnificent lake with the Alps as the backdrop. The town center is home to every imaginable and unimaginable high-end designer boutique and then some. But we didn’t come here to shop. We came here to see the countryside.
We had a hard decision to make: go hiking or drive on the Bernina Pass over the Alps toward Italy. We chose the latter, it being one of the most spectacular roads in Europe. The pass featured some splendid mountains covered with glaciers. We passed the obligatory cows, the road workers, the toy houses on the slopes, some waterfalls, rivers and lakes. We drove up to the border with Italy and decided to go over to have some fine Italian coffee when we realized that Switzerland is not part of the European Union, and we needed our passports which we left in our hotel. It was too late to turn back and we drove up to the Swiss border patroller who was going to wave us through, but we told him we had no passports and just wanted to go to Italy for a cup of coffee. “Do you have any other documents?” he asked. Kenny offered his driver’s license and I – my credit cards.
“Are you only going for coffee?” asked the guard.
We eagerly confirmed. “Ok, he said, you are not going to have problems with us, but the Italians might give you a hard time.”
The Italian border policeman did not even let us open our mouths, said “Prego,” and waved us through. Thus we became illegal immigrants for the time being.
We entered the town of Tirano. Let me stress my conviction once again: nothing, but NOTHING surpasses Italy in beauty! Just like Latins have a special gene for dancing, Italians have a gene for good taste. The old section we toured briefly so that not to overstay our welcome, was exquisite in the way it mixed the ancient with the modern. The little mom and pop shop, where we had our cappuccinos under the portrait of a distinguished matriarch, was sweetly charming and homey. The beauty of Italy is effortless and that makes it slide under your skin just as effortlessly.
On the border back to Switzerland, the friendly Swiss guard inquired if we liked our coffee and we were legal once again in no time.
This short visit to Italy gave us quite a high. Perhaps, we’ll sneak over the border from another location once more to have another taste of this incomparable country.