By five-in-hand road-coach across the Alps from Lake Constance/Germany through 5 countries via the Splügenpass to Bellagio (Como)/Italy.
The "Lindau Messenger" was the name given to the many personages, who served as a coureer between the Free Imperial Town of Lindau/Lake Constance and the City of Milan/Italy on behalf of the Chambers of Commerce in both towns between 1322 and 1824, a span of more than 500 years. In those times it took him 5 ½ days to cross the Alps, rivers, and lakes on his weekly route from Lindau to Milan and return. In winter and summer the Lindau Messenger did his tour with mail, goods, and passengers. It was a dangerous route through avalanches of snow or rock, rain, snow, loose rocks, narrow bridges crossing deep gorges. Even nowadays, the road and the landscape still give more than a glimpse of the hazards of those times. Coaching in Bavaria is the only company that both organizes and performs tours like this that will give those who love extra-ordinary adventures a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
12 days journey, 13 nights
not in 2017
Guests make their own way to Lindau on Lake Constance. Nearest airport is Zürich, Switzerland, with a train link directly from the airport to Lindau several times a day. The hotel in Lindau is within walking distance from the rail station.
A guided tour through Lindau is scheduled for the morning. After a reception by town officials with snacks and drinks in the old light house at Lindau harbour, the mail-coach pulled by a five-in-hand team, waits outside for the passengers. The route leads along the lakeside via the Bavarian/Austrian border through Bregenz/Austria. After a short picnic stop in the fields the mail-coach continues through the Rhine Valley on small secondary roads and tracks. The evening destination is Feldkirch, the old border fortress near the Principality of Liechtenstein. Here in the Romantic hotel "Alpenrose" we will spend the night.
In the morning there is an opportunity for individual sightseeing in the medieval part of the city. We will depart around 01.00 pm in the mail-coach on small side tracks to cross the border from Austria into Liechtenstein. En route we have a picnic or a short stop at a traditional inn. Late afternoon arrival in Vaduz, the capital "city" of Liechtenstein (population: 5.000). A welcoming reception by Town and Principality authorities. We spend the night in the hotel "Engel".
The mail-coach leaves Vaduz at 09.30 am. Via the town of Balzers we drive to the Swiss border, a point only marked by some flags and painted pylons. Lunch break is at Luziesteig, a Swiss army fortress. After lunch we proceed through "Heidi-land", the famous country where Johanna Spyris novel was set. We pass the first vineyards near Mayenfeld. Our route leads through Jenins, Malans, Landquart and Zizers. About 06.00 pm we arrive at Chur, capital of the Swiss Canton of Graubünden. Overnight in an historic hotel in the historical part of the city.
09.00 am departure from Chur. We cross the Rhine river for Felsberg and Tramins, the latter with ist characteristic church steeple. We cross the Rhine again where the two parts of the river, the Hinterrhein and the Vorderrhein merge. Via a narrow track "Polenweg", which was built by interned polish officers during World War II, a wonderful track leading us high above the Rhine river closer and closer to the mountains. A stop for a lunch/picnic near the castle of Ortenburg. Later we drive uphill via Rodels, Pratval, Fürstenau and arrive at Thusis, last town before the entrance into the Via Mala gorge. We stay the night in the hotel "Weißes Kreuz".
09.00 am departure as our schedule calls for a full day always climbing. We enter the gloomy gorge of the Via Mala. A short stop in the middle between towering rocks gives us an impression of the difficulties encountered in crossing the Alps in the old days. The Rhine River has dug itself about 600 m into the rocks, while the width of the gorge is about 60 m only. An hour later we leave the dark Via Mala (= the bad way) and enter a wide, friendly valley. For lunch we stop in Andeer at the hotel "Fravi", a famous relay station in the day of horse travel. Lunch features typical local specialties. Two hours later we continue through narrow lanes and winding roads, always uphill. We stop shortly at the Roffla gorge, where one man, with his hands and simple tools , dug a tunnel through the solid rock from his inn to the Rhine cataracts! A must-see for every visitor. Continuation of the tour uphill along narrow gorges to the Lake Sufers. Early evening arrival at the village of Splügen Dorf, the last settlement before crossing the pass. Overnight in the historic "Bodenhaus", where during the centuries famous people, poets, artists, Royals stayed a night.
A rest day gives us opportunity to explore this little village; we will be impressed seeing the old manor houses dating back to the times when the whole place here lived from the traffic across the pass.
Late forenoon the mail-coach winds upward into the rocks of the northern ramp of the Splügen pass. Two and a half hours later we arrive at the top of the pass; 2.200 m above sea level, where mountain peaks around are covered with snow. We cross the border from Switzerland into Italy. The southern side of the pass is totally different: no flowers, no low trees, just barren rocks and moss: over grazed by the herds of sheep! After some serpentines, we arrive in the first Italian settlement of Montespluga.: a modest "post inn" will be our home for the rest of the day and the night. The rooms upstairs are surprisingly comfortable and cosy. The impressive loneliness of the surroundings, the rocks, the little lake, invite us to take a walk out of the tiny village. The evening will give us the first impression of Italian cuisine and Italian hospitality.
Late in the morning we board the mail-coach and start the descent into the Italian valleys. An exciting road leads us down into the Cardinell gorge. 1.800 m is the difference in altitude from Montespluga to our next destination: Chiavenna! About 100 switchbacks! Continuing on winding roads to the small place of Pianazzo before diving into tunnels and seemingly endless winding roads cut into solid rock. Some 800 m below the coach we can see the silver band of the river Liro. We arrive at Campodolcino (= the sweet field), where a reception of the town officials may await us. Lunch break either here or further along at San Giacomo Filippi. Some hours later we arrive at Chiavenna, "Key Town" for several different Alpine passes. The first palm trees, edible chestnuts and a reception by Town officials at the piazza. Overnight hotel "Crimea".
Full day of rest in Chiavenna. Opportunity for individual sightseeing, possibly visiting the Palazzo Vertemate, the only left-over of a major town which a landslide had totally destroyed in the 17th century, or a visit to the Garaden of Giants.
08.00 am departure from Chiavenna along quiet sidetracks to Novate Mezzola, then along the lake side of Lake Como. Arrival at Colico or a place nearby for a lunch break. Continuation of the tour via Dorio, Dervio, Bellano to Varenna. Here our whole turn-out, including five horses, mail-coach and passengers embark on the ferry boat. Our voyage is to Bellagio, the most beautiful place on Lake Como. Disembark at the jetty of Bellagio to a reception by local officials. Overnight following the standard program in 4*Hotel or optional in the 5*-Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, a dream of a 16th century lakeside villa on the end of the peninsula.
Rest day in Bellagio: Walking around, swimming, shopping in the very tempting boutiques, boating, relaxing or visiting the famous gardens.
11.00 am departure of the mail-coach from Bellagio: The road leads us high above Lake Como shaded by the old trees on both sides of the narrow, winding roads. Lunch break at "Faggetto Lario", a typical restaurant, famous for ist fish dishes. After lunch we continue via Torno and some dark tunnels. We arrive at Como at about 04.00 pm, hotel "Terminus" located at the lakeside. Our journey is at an end except for a farewell party this evening in the hotel.
tour ends after breakfast. Guests can stay individually in Como or continue on as they choose.