Day 8 – over the Alps and down into Italy

Salzburg – Innsbruck – Verona

A wet and murky start to today, but fortunately only a short dash to the station. I’ve been so impressed with the ÖBB trains on this trip. Quite apart from being impressively large and powerful (a necessity in such a mountainous region) they are clean, very comfortable and, in my very limited experience, punctual. Like so many services on the continent you get free wi-fi, with real time updates both on monitor screens and on your personal device, not only for the train you are on but for the connections at each station. All run as a public service as well.

Something I first spotted a few years ago is communities of sheds/shacks as housing, which don’t really exist in the same way in the UK. They’re quite charming in their own way. I saw quite a few of them around Salzburg. Barring that, I can’t say much about this section of the journey. I got glimpses, but the rain was lashing down and with it a good amount of mist on the hills. It only really started to clear as we approached Innsbruck, when the mountains came into view.

The scheduled 45 minute change in Innsbruck turned out to be well over an hour. There was apparently some sort of problem further down the line. This section of the journey climbs over the Brenner Pass. A new 55 kilometre long tunnel is being built which will greatly speed this journey, though personally I thought it was super as it was. The railway and the adjacent road twist up the often narrow valley, crossing over each other from time to time.

We stopped for about 15 minutes at the summit, and passengers were told they could get off and stretch their legs. I suspect the crew were being replaced as well, certainly the voice we heard changed after this point. I did wonder if they would put an Italian locomotive on the front, but they didn’t.

From here it was downhill all the way. I realised how high I’d been for the past few days and my ears repeatedly popped as we got lower. The fields and the buildings became more distinctively Italian as we approached Verona.

Verona is another of those places that is unimpressive as you leave the station. It’s a good 20 minute walk towards the historic centre and then it hits you. Suddenly everything is stunningly beautiful. It was good to finally get to the amphitheatre, which I had planned to visit to see Carmen Consoli a couple of summers ago. Italian cities are gorgeous in the day and even more so at night. This one is really quite exceptional.

Another city to go onto the list for a more thorough exploration.

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1 Comment

  1. Celia Lyon

    Fabulous blog Steve

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