Saint Moritz is one of the most elegant and exclusive resorts in the Swiss Alps, just over 50 km from the Italian border. It’s possible to reach the town comfortably by car, taking just over an hour and crossing anyway beautiful mountain views.
But here I want to suggest you a different way to get to the resort, an experience that alone probably deserves more of the same visit to Saint Moritz, one of those cases where the trip is worth more than destination. It is the excursion to the renowned Bernina Red Train, a normal Swiss railway train with this glittering and unmistakable red color through the beautiful views of the Swiss Alps (photo 1).
In fact, the “Bernina Express“, this is the official name, is not a train like the others; it’s the result of a great engineering work dating back to more than a hundred years ago, World Heritage Site.
It is an experience that is worth doing, comfortable and relaxing, that in less than two hours leads you to the splendor of Saint Moritz crossing Valtellina, Val Poschiavo and the Engadine, under Bernina’s watchful eye, one of the five peaks over 4.000 mt. of the Alps (with Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa, Matterhorn and the Gran Paradiso).
The departure is set at the station of Tirano, a small town in the province of Sondrio, the last national bastion in this strip of Italy. Tirano deserves a visit, especially for the nice Collegiate Church of San Martino (photo 2), where you can admire a splendid organ of the mid-eighteenth century.
To access the Tirano station you have to cross the Italian-Swiss customs that, after Switzerland’s entry into the Schengen area, does not usually require particularly stringent control forms. The departure of the train takes place in a way not very different from what we are normally accustomed to, simply going to the track announced by the station speaker. Even the interior of the train is not very different from ordinary trains, except for the crystal roof (though not always present in all trains), which allows you to enjoy the surrounding landscape better.
When you leave, the train accompanies travelers to splendid views, climbing along steep climbs, above all thanks to the helical helicopters (photo 3), trails that seem to twist on themselves and which tend to soften the size of the climbs.
Traveling by train along this high mountain trail (reaches 2,253 meters at its highest point) gives a nice feeling. Indeed, a completely ordinary action (i.e. a common train journey like any commuter) is carried out in an extraordinary context with mountains, lakes, towns that become one with the train passing through them.
Along the way you pass the lake of Poschiavo (photo 4), a small water-mirror of just 2 square kilometers, today also used for power generation.
And then again, stunning views, fairytale mountains, all in a charming and relaxing setting (photos 5 and 6).
After two and a half hours of travel and 13 stops you arrive (unfortunately, it is worth mentioning!) to your destination, that is Saint Moritz. The town definitely deserves a visit to be one of the most exclusive mountain centers in the Alps.
The town, just over 5,000 inhabitants, rises at an altitude of 1,822 meters, and is ideally divided into a high part and a lower part. The latter is enchanted by the presence of the homonymous lake, a tiny watertight waterfall but very characteristic in winter for its frozen layer in the summer for the reflections that the surrounding mountains have in its waters (photo 7) .
The highest part is the most frequented by tourists, especially for its luxurious shops of the most famous brands, in the central and fascinating Serlas Street (photo 8), where you can walk between a Cartier store and the historic Hanselmann pastry shop (photo 9), an indispensable step for the most greedy (but also for the unkind).
Also interesting is the pendant bell tower of the ancient Protestant Church of St. Maurice (photo 10).
It’s not a very cheap trip (starting from € 100 for the base package) but it’s an experiences for those who love the mountains and the magnificent landscapes of the Engadine.
For more information about Bernina Express, click here. It is a very complete site with information, timetables, prices and more.
To have a live eye on the Bernina Express, click here, a web cam right at the point where photo 3 was taken, hoping to capture the moment the train passes.