Time for a little more beauty in the world….
I write this with crossed fingers (a feat!) since we’re travelling again tomorrow AND have NZ friends arriving at the end of the week, which doubles the risk of tempting the weather gods … but… since the end of June when we arrived, the weather has been consistently gorgeous.
So that means heading for the mountain passes. Last week, it was a circle that took us over the AlbulaPass, up the Bernina, down through the Val di Livigno in Italy, and back over the Fluëlapass. Two cars, six friends, and a bottle of bubbly for a ritual toast on the top of somewhere that seemed to require it.
The AlbulaPass road was new to Mani and me… but, we’d been that way before, on the Alpine Express in 2010.
From the train, you’re in awe of the scenery. From the road, you’re in awe of the engineering of the railway!
Vaulting viaducts, on sweeping curves… The Rhaetian Railway is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Some lovely stats ( for those for whom stats are lovely…). When they were designing the section from Preda to Bergün, the engineers worked on the basis of a 3.5% gradient (about 1:29). Steam trains could manage that, without going to a rack and pinion type system, which limits the number of carriages (think the Rimutaka track pre-tunnel).
So – the whole design maintains that gradient by using cork-screws. Think the Raurimu Spiral plus! Imagine five curved helical and spiral tunnels, nine viaducts, and, for safety’s sake, an avalanche gallery. The whole design takes 12.5 kilometres of track, to cover a crow’s flight of 6 kilometres. And… bless Robert Moser and his team of engineers, they also designed with the scenery in mind, to give passengers the best views they could. The result – something that’s beautiful to look out from – and lovely to look at from the road.
I think, from here, I’ll let the pictures do the talking…
And the last word… Livigno is a duty-free enclave in Northern Italy. So the trip was reviewed in the proper style a day or two later. The cognac from Hungary is empty. The cherry brandy we made at the start of this season is sinking. And the Grappa from Livigno – aaah… that was very fine. We may have to go back for more (and more of the gorgonzola too).