Traveling in Northern Italy

Cervinia is an Alpine resort gem in the northern tip of Italy within the Valle d’Aosta region, approximately 2 hours from Milan by car. It is situated in the Alps at the foot of the Matterhorn or Monte Cervino as the Italians call it, and shares a ski area with Zermatt in Switzerland.  We had loved Zermatt and always wondered what is was like on “the other side”. What we found was delightful!


What makes Cervinia special is that it is relatively unknown to tourists, especially Americans. It offers so much that is special:  hiking and skiing year round (yes, year-round), great food and golf. The prices are reasonable compared to other better-known Alpine towns.

We stayed at the Saint Hubertus (Patron Saint of Hunters) Resort and Spa and were overwhelmingly pleased.  This is a new hotel that has lovely apartments, many with two levels.  All the rooms have great views, fireplaces, and every amenity. The manager, Betsy Dorzweiler, could not have been more helpful or knowledgeable. Her restaurant recommendations were spot-on and guidance on hiking was invaluable. The spa is modern and serene with a plethora of services and is very New Age.


The hiking options are varied and attractive to people of all ages and fitness levels. We saw many children; they hike right along with their parents and grandparents! We also saw many hikers accompanied by their dogs, which we suspect had been born and bred at high altitude. The views of the mountainous terrain are truly stunning from all perspectives.  My daughter and her husband spent one day trekking to Zermatt via cable car, hiking and traversing the glacier. There they had lunch at an old favorite, the Zum-See Restaurant. An unforgettable experience!


Aside from hiking, we kept busy exploring the area, playing golf, and were fortunate to witness a celebration honoring World War II veterans. This summer heralds the major celebration of the 150-year anniversary of the conquering of Monte Cervino. Both an Italian and a Swiss succeeded in this heroic race to the summit on July 14. It was an intense rivalry but the Swiss reached the 4478m peak first! Banners of noted climbers decorated the city, one even of Pope John Paul the Second, who celebrated a mass on the mountain on July 19, 1991 referring to its being the “natural temple of God”.

Pope in Italy

The Saint Hubertus has an excellent, charming restaurant and serves dinner on Friday and Saturday nights.  We also were thrilled with another great recommendation, La Luge. From the outside, it looked much like a typical Italian mountain refugio.  Inside it was warm, rustic, friendly and the food outstanding.  Along with traditional Alpine fair, La Luge offered grilled lamb, Mediterranean whole fish, wonderful soups, my favorite fresh lobster pasta and even its own brand of hamburger with onion rings! The owner stole our hearts with his warm demeanor. In town, we sampled excellent pizza at Sotto Zero and satisfied our craving for the renowned Italian gelato at numerous gelaterias.

Our final day we drove to Milan and viewed “The Last Supper” or Ultima Cena, at Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie.  If you have never seen it, do so. You must pre-purchase tickets. Groups are limited to 30 persons. It was especially meaningful to us after having been recently to Jerusalem. The mural opposing Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece is a fresco of the “Crucifixion” with the Old City of Jerusalem in the background by Giovanni Donato da Montorfano, 1495.

Italy never fails to delight. There is a surprise around each corner…


Carol Santora

Thank you to Dukie Baxter at Travel Concepts, 914.769.7265, for assisting with planning and reservations.