Overseas Adventure Travel
Northern Italy: The Alps, Dolomites & Lombardy +
The Swiss Alps Pre-Trip Extension
June 12 through July 4, 2023


Click on the above link buttons that will take you directly to a particular page or area of the review; or you can just click through to the next page at the bottom of each page.
Page 1 – Lucerne, Switzerland
Page 2 – Lucern & Bern, Switzerland
Page 3 - Bern & Zermatt, Switzerland

Page 4 – Lecco, Italy (Includes Milan)
Page 5 -
Lecco & Tirano, Italy
Page 6 - Tirano & Sulzano, Italy
Page 7 - Sulzano & Trento, Italy
Page 8 - Trento & Bressanone, Italy
Page 9 -
Bressanone & Mogliano Veneto, Italy


Day 4 – Lucerne, Switzerland

This would be our last full day in Lucerne.  We had the option of touring on our own or taking a $75 optional tour to 7,000-foot elevation Mount Pilatus.  That was an easy choice.  We couldn’t pass up a chance to go up a mountain.  The views are always amazing if the weather cooperates.  We once again had a great weather forecast.  The chance of rain and thick clouds had disappeared.

We took a bus to the steepest cogwheel railroad in the world, with a maximum grade of 48%.  This was the first time that Damien had been able to take this train.  It has been closed for a while and had just reopened a few days earlier.  We lucked out. 

We were there early enough to beat the crowds.  But by the time we could board, there were lots of other folks there. 

The train ride to the top takes almost a half hour.  Each train car holds 46 passengers.  Each train can take up to 8 cars or 368 passengers on each trip.  Two trains go up close together. So, there can be a lot of people on the mountain at one time.  We were there early enough where it wasn’t an issue and the trains only had a couple cars each.

The ride up the mountain was most enjoyable with beautiful scenery. 



As we got close to the top, we could see one of the two hotels on the mountain.

When we arrived at the top, we saw an illuminated dragon emblem on the ceiling of the station. The dragon is the emblem for the mountain due to legends related to dragons associated with the mountain.

As we were walking around the facility, we could see the large gondola that we would be taking down the mountain to return to Lucerne.

We saw a path around the mountain with some openings to get a different view.  Damien told us that we could go to those windows, but not to go much further because that path difficult.  We would be taking a different path up to the top.  There were a lot of stairs to climb in our future.

There were some gorgeous views even from the lower levels of the facility.

We could see the hotel from a different angle as well as some base jumpers sailing by.


We were thoroughly enjoying our mountain experience.

We began our climb, which wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be.  When we got about halfway up, we took a relatively flat path that went to the left of the mountain rather than to the top.  It gave us a chance for different views.




We saw a fellow climbing the mountain with a bike on his back.  Now that isn’t something I have a desire to do.  Damien said that they ride down mountain on the trails that have very sharp turns as you can see in the photo below. 


When we got to the end of the path, there was an entrance going down into the mountain.  Damien told us not to take it, since it was the other end of the path, he previously told us not to take.  He said it was steep dark and slippery.  Not a good combination.  Some people started to go down the stairs and changed their minds and came back up.  The people who had taken the full path and were coming out of it didn’t have happy faces either.

As we took the path back to where we could continue our climb up to the top, we could see another train arriving.  As it got closer to the station, the tracks were much steeper.


We had a nice view of the main facility.  There was a fancy hotel in the round section of the building on top.  The views were just amazing.

We were finally almost at the top.  When we got there, we could see the other side of the mountain.  Wow!  So beautiful. 




I was surprised to see a small church on top of its own mountain.  I don’t know how many people go to services there on a regular basis, but it certainly isn’t easy to get to.


We could look down and see a luge type ride that went down the mountain.  Now that would have been fun to try.  Damien said that we could do the ride, but that we would have to find our own way back to the hotel, since there wasn’t enough time.  Probably just as well.

There was another path on a different peak that some people were taking.  It looked like a lot more steps than the path we took.  I had no desire to see the view from that peak.

Damien told us that there were some interactive games we could try in an area called Dragon World.  Since we had some time, I tried them.  They were cute, but more for kids than an old man.

I walked over to the other side of the facility to see what was there.  Some people were feeding the local birds.  They were sitting on people’s heads, shoulders and eating out of their hands.   I could also watch another base jumper.


I liked the sign with the dragon in front of the path we took to the top of the mountain.

At the appropriate time, everyone met at the gondola area for our ride down.  I took a photo of the gondola with the first stop below where we would be having lunch.  It was a large gondola.

On the way down, I was able to get a nice shot of the little church we had seen from above.  I also saw more of the luge track.


The meal for the optional excursion was included in the price.  Damien told us to get anything we wanted on the menu.  The sausage and roesti plate with a beer sounded great to me.  The dessert was pretty good too.


At this lower level of the mountain, there were lots of activities for kids to do.  The main attraction was a zipline.  To get to the zipline, they had to go through what looked like a challenging course of climbing a tree and walking across different objects to balance on.  I have enjoyed ziplining, but those other activities didn’t look like as much fun for me.  But we did enjoy watching the kids struggle and the mountain scenery was gorgeous.


After lunch, we went back to the gondola station and continued down the mountain.  It was such a beautiful ride.  It was nice to see Lake Lucerne in the distance.


After we got on the bus to the hotel, we passed by a large dragon statue close to the gondola station. 

After we returned to the hotel, I had one more place I had to see.  We didn’t have time the previous day, so I was going to visit Hofkirche or the Church of St. Leodegar.  We had seen the two tall spires frequently and I wanted to see the interior.  Readers of my website know that I love to visit churches, temples, mosques or any religious buildings.  I also understand that I probably put in too many church photos.  I apologize in advance, since this trip had a whole lot of beautiful churches that we visited.

With the church being on the other side of the river and close to lion monument, it was a pretty good walk.  A lot of stairs led to the church.


The front of the church was nicely adorned.  I always seeing the gargoyles or other creatures that are used for gutter downspouts.



The interior was nicely decorated, especially the chapels.  I was glad I had made the walk to see it.








On the way back to the hotel, I went to see the beautiful arch in front of the train station that I had not been able to take a photo of the whole time we were in Lucerne. 


That evening our included dinner was at a restaurant that served fondue.  We hadn’t had fondue in years.  So, we were looking forward to it.  It was good, but it wasn’t as good as I remembered it to be.  There are many different varieties of fondue with different cheeses and things that you dip into it.  We had bread, potatoes and vegetables.  I enjoyed the vegetables the best.



On the way back to the hotel, I was able to get a nice photo of the Jesuit church and a pretty, big dog.


We continued our string of great tours and beautiful weather.  We had to pack to move to our next destination.  We were ready to experience more of Switzerland.


Day 5 – Transfer to Bern, Switzerland

After another wonderful breakfast, I decided to walk down to the river for a last look before we left Lucerne for our bus ride to Bern, Switzerland.  I was shocked to see that there were workmen on the dam making it longer.  We had been told how they did it on our city tour, but I was thrilled to be able to actually see them doing it.  It was quite a process, of lifting up the metal support structure under the water with the metal rope and then adding the needles one by one.  It was a slow process and we never got to see how much the dam was extended.



I went back to the hotel to bring Cathy back to see the construction process.  She was sitting out on the balcony.  We came back to check on the progress after I let some of group that were still at breakfast know what was going on. 

On the way to Bern, Daniel had the bus stop at a town that he thought we would enjoy.  It was a very authentic small town named Willisau.  He was right.  It was a very charming and pretty town.



We enjoyed walking down main street looking at the cute shops.  There weren’t many tourists in Willisau.   This was a real small town in Switzerland.  Quite different from Lucerne.



I loved some of the signage on the shops.


We walked into the small Holy Blood Church that was built in 1674. 

It was quite a pleasant surprise to see the little building so beautifully decorated, especially the ceiling.


About 20 minutes after leaving Willisau, we stopped at a bakery shop that specialized in cookies for a restroom break.

Now that is a great place to stop while on a drive.  They had samples of many of their delicious products.  A lot of purchases were made during that stop.  Cathy purchased a bag of our favorite ones to share with the group.  However, so did Damien and others.  We said that we would just save them for the next day.  That day didn’t come until we were doing the Italy portion of the tour.  We nibbled away at them all during the trip.  We ended up having to throw the remainder away the day before we flew home. 

After a lovely 40 minutes drive, we made another stop, this time for a coffee/drink break in the countryside.  We were at the Brestenegg Restaurant in Eriswil, Switzerland.  It was a most enjoyable place to just look at the scenery and relax for a bit. 


There was an issue with the proprietor where she was mad that Damien hadn’t called ahead to let her know we were arriving soon.  Damien told her that he had been calling but no one would answer the phone.  Once Damien showed her that he had been calling the right number, she was apologetic.  She also was thinking we were all arriving for lunch not just a drink.  Damien had been telling us about a popular Swiss fruit drink called Rivella.  Since they had it on the menu, many of us tried it.  Quite good!

We were heading to the town of Luthern to have lunch.  We stopped first at the village of Luthern Bad.  The first place Damien wanted to show us was the small local souvenir shop.  It was a self-service shop with no employees.  They had some very nice homemade items and other unique stuff.

The town was small with some nice homes.  There is a pilgrimage church that people come to for healing.  I liked the stained-glass windows.




We then took the ten-minute drive to Luthern where we had lunch in a very nice restaurant.


We had a wonderful soup as an appetizer along with other items.  We also had a meal choice of zander (fish) crisps, rice, vegetables and tartar sauce or veal meatballs with mushroom cream sauce in a puff pastry basket with vegetables and fries.  As with every provided meal, there was a vegetarian option that I didn’t take a photo of because we didn’t order it that day.  The dessert was a meringue with cream and ice cream.  The meal was very good.



We got back on the bus for the one-and-a-half-hour drive to Bern.  We were staying at a very nice hotel near the center of town, the Hotel Savoy.

Our room was quite comfortable with lots of storage space.



The bathroom was nice, but there wasn’t a lot of counter space in it.


Our room looked out onto the main street in front of the hotel.  We were at first worried about the potential for noise at night, but the very good insulated windows kept the room silent. 


At 6:00 PM Damien had an orientation walk to get us familiar with the area.  Since all meals, other than breakfast, while in Bern were on our own, he wanted to point out some restaurant options for us.  We also got to see a preview of some of the beautiful Bern architecture.



One of the restaurants he pointed out to us was quite unique.  It was called Kornhauskeller.  The entry is on ground level but the restaurant itself is in a huge vaulted cellar that was built in the early 1700’s.  We were only able to see the restaurant from the upper level, but it enticed us to get Damien to make reservations for us, as well as two other couples.


That evening we walked across the street to an Italian restaurant for dinner.  Cathy and I each ordered a cup of delicious tomato soup and we split a wonderful pizza.


We were looking forward to seeing more of Bern the next day.

Day 6 – Bern, Switzerland

Once again, our hotel had another wonderful breakfast buffet.  The variety was so good.  For the morning’s city tour we had a wonderful guide, Mary Theresa.  She was very involved in civic actives, charities and churches; and was such a wealth of information. 

Since it was Saturday, there were markets set up through the city that we passed through on our walk.


There were so many pretty towers in Bern. 


One of the markets was in the square in front of the parliament building.  It did make it difficult to get a better photo of it.  Once I went around some of the tents, I was able to get a cleaner photo of the front of the building.


There was some scaffolding around the dome which was a backdrop for the statue of three women on top of the main pediment. On the left is the executive branch, in the middle is political independence, and on the right is the legislative body.

There were many beautiful buildings in the parliament square.


As we continued our walk, Mary Theresa pointed out a building with many windows on it.  She told us to look at the windows on the sides.  They weren’t real windows.  People would make fake windows for looks, since there was a tax on real windows on a house.  The fruit in the market in front of the house looked so good.


We walked around the to the side of the parliament building.  There was a large terrace looking down to the river.  A large swimming pool was close by.


From the terrace we could see more of the beautiful decorations on the building as well as views below.



We had seen many fountains during our visit.  Damien had told us that the high ones were OK to fill up our water bottles with.  The low ones were for dogs and not to use them.  This young fellow was using the correct one.

We came to the cathedral with its 330-foot-tall spire.  There was a statue of Moses in the square.  Mary Theresa told us that we would come back to the cathedral, but we had somewhere else to go first.


The street we were walking on had lots to look at.  Bern is known for its colorful statues.  We were thoroughly enjoying them.



We also saw where Albert Einstein lived from 1903 until 1905 where he developed his theory of relativity.  A large photo of Einstein is looking out of one of the windows.


We were on this street to see the Zytglogge.  This is the clock tower that was originally built in 1220 AD that has been used as a guard tower, prison and a clock tower.  It has been renovated many times over the years.  The astronomical clock dates back to 1500 AD.  We had arrived early for the 11:00 clock performance.  It is entertaining to watch the rooster raise its wings, the king raise his staff, the bell being struck by the golden man and other movements occurring.



Not far from the clock tower was one of the more well know statues, the Child Eater.  It is a rather unusual and grotesque.  The story about it that if a child misbehaved, an ogre might eat them.  I guess it kept some kids in line.




 We headed back to the cathedral.  Mary Theresa worked at the cathedral for eighteen years and knows everything about it.  I always get a kick out of the gargoyles people in misery on a church.


We spent a lot of time at main portal, which is probably the church’s main feature.  It is an amazing sculpture with so much detail.  There are 294 individual sculptures on it.  There are martyrs on the left side and the damned on the right.  I have made a larger image of it below.

The entire portal has so much to take in.  It is quite a sight.



There are frescos on the portal’s side walls.




© 2023 ThePreismans.com • All Rights Reserved