Railways are as synonymous with Switzerland as Toblerone, fondue and luxury watches, and few are more famous than the Bernina Express, one of the most scenic train rides in the world.
Now, the label ‘express’ might be a little misleading as this is far from a rapid whizz from one city to the next. Instead, the train will take your clients on a leisurely journey up and over the majestic Swiss Alps and down through the most southerly Swiss valley of Valposchiavo and over the Italian border to the pretty Renaissance city of Tirano in Lombardy.
An interesting fact for clients who are rail enthusiasts is that for most of its journey, the Bernina Express runs along the Rhaetian Railway, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008 for its astonishing engineering and splendid, ever-changing scenery.
Coaches with panoramic windows and a multi-lingual audio guide on board mean that your clients are guaranteed unobstructed views during the whole of this unique four-hour journey.
They can choose to board the observation train in the exclusive Swiss resort of St Moritz or in Switzerland’s oldest town, picturesque Chur. On the way to Italy, they’ll pass through 55 tunnels and cross 196 bridges, travelling on the highest railway tracks in Europe and the steepest in the world.
Arriving in Tirano at the other end of the line, they’ll find the famous Sanctuary of the Madonna di Tirano, the most important Renaissance and religious architectural expression of the Valtellina region, and other historic sites including the Church of Sant’Agostino and the Renaissance Palace of Visconti Venosta – now Quadrio Curzio – and several 16th and 17th century palaces, plus the Castello Omodei – or Castellaccio – one of Tirano’s oldest buildings.
Stunning natural attractions on the rail journey between Switzerland and Italy include the 3.5km-long icy tongue of the Palü Glacier, which can easily be seen from Alp Grüm train station on the south side of Bernina Pass, and the Lago Bianco (White Lake) reservoir, one of the highest in the Alps which, contrary to its name, is a beautiful turquoise!
Other highlights include the ride along the lofty five-pillar Landwasser Viaduct, and spiralling around the spectacular nine-arch Brusio Circular Viaduct, an ingenious structure built to limit the line’s gradient.
An onboard bar serving local snacks such as mountain cheeses, Chur Walnut Cake and Engadin Hazelnut Fingers mean that guests won’t go hungry, and there are hot and cold drinks plus alcoholic beverages available too, all served at the seat.
An additional sweet surprise for your clients is a souvenir tin of chocolate hearts from the Swiss Lindt factory to remind them of their journey, which is bound to be one of the highlights of their holiday!
For more information, go to Bernina Express.