alps italy switzerland

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My first full day in the Alps was spent crisscrossing the border between Italy and Switzerland.

The schedule had me checking out a local scenic railway between both countries. In true Italian fashion, my first train was delayed, which nearly made me miss my connection in Switzerland, a country where they don’t mess around with train schedules. It’s amazing how the two countries’ wildly differing attitudes toward scheduling have not resulted in war.

This region of southern Switzerland was unexpected due to how green it was for January. There were even palm trees.

I finally arrived in Locarno, where I had a few minutes to kill before my main train journey for the day. I spent these few minutes in a very constructive manner. Switzerland has several scenic railways, some of which are included in a Eurail Pass. My scenic train operator for the day happens to go by the name FART.

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Yes, FART. The full name of the railway is Ferrovie Autolinee Regionali Ticinesi – Regional Bus and Rail Company of Canton Ticino. Needless to say, that’s quite the mouthful, so the locals have embraced the name “FART” while undoubtedly being amused by English-speaking tourists taking photos of all of the train logos.

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The line runs between Locarno, Switzerland, and Domodossola, Italy, a distance of around 32 miles. The journey takes about 2 hours in each direction and has spectacular views as it traverses the Alps.

My Eurail pass had covered first-class train tickets, so a fairly empty train was even emptier since there were only two other people in the entire car. Unfortunately, all of the FART train windows were tinted except for the very front one, making photography difficult. Most of the untinted photos I did get had railway equipment & lines in front of the train.

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Once I reached Domodossola, I had a few hours to wander around before taking the return FART to Locarno. The city center had a few buildings that were marked as historic. It was remarkably quiet, even for a weekday during the winter.

I had lunch at a place called Ristorante La Terrazza. From the outside, the huge place looked deserted, but considering it was one of the few open restaurants, I ventured in to find that it was actually crowded.

Once inside, I ordered a stupid amount of food. I had taglietti alfredo gorgonzola, veal scalopini in white wine sauce, and fries. There was no way that I could even come close to finishing all of this, but it was reasonably priced, and I was starving. Everything was excellent.

That said, the girls at the table next to me were eating a pizza covered in bits of hot dog and french fries, so not all of their menu is great.

After wandering around a bit more, it was time to get back on the FART to head back to Locarno. I’d timed the journey well, so the sun was setting during the train ride back.

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From Locarno, it was a short train ride (or, more accurately, a couple of train rides) back to Como for the night. The trains were on time, and the only difficulty was with some border guards who got on the train at Chiasso and then proceeded to ask me repeatedly about a foreign currency that I was definitely not smuggling around Europe. Believe me, given how expensive I was about to find out Swiss cities are, I wished I’d been carrying around a ton of cash.

Song of the day: Led Zeppelin – Over the Hills and Far Away

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