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Report 1729: Family, Food and Wine (Part 2) Abruzzo Re-Re-Visited and Switzerland

By avvocato from NJ, USA, Spring 2009

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Page 5 of 11: Atri Redux and the Overnight Train to Zurich

photo by Fred De Stephanis

The Adriatic Sea from a hillside in Atri

The next day we return to Atri. The weather is a little bit improved and the day is good for some exploring of the nearby hills. We encounter calanchi almost around every corner. We see the vistas of the towns on the hills - Silvi Paese and Mutignano, and the nearby Adriatic. My wife, ever the agriculture major, helps in tilling my cousin’s garden. She is the perfect contadina.

We have a lovely farewell lunch of orrechiette with greens, olives ascoliani and porchetta. My cousin packs us a box lunch for the road - panini di porchetta and lemon cake. Also included are home grown walnuts and a bag of fresh peas, which my wife harvested from the family garden.

The weather turns nasty and rainy but we are off to Pescara to drop off the car at the airport. Of course the signage is bad and I miss the rental car parking lot. After some time I find it and we drop off the vehicle without incidents. Although no indication was given at the Europcar desk, later I received an additional charge of €2.92/day for “Licenses and fees”. This added a total of €17.52 to the rental car costs. This charge disappointed me inasmuch as Auto Europe’s ads all seem to indicate the cost paid when the reservation is made is all inclusive. We call a taxi and ride to the Pescara Central Train Station.

We are reserved on the Eurostar Intercity (IC) #9768 (2nd class) from Pescara to Bologna (€70 for both). The train leaves Pescara at 1750 through Ancona and Pesaro and arrives in Bologna at 2059. At Bologna we are to change to the over-night sleeper to Zurich (Euronight-EN-314 Luna) that travels via Milan to Switzerland through Bern and thence to Zurich. The cost for a shared (six berths) cuccetta is €210 for two. The train at Bologna departs at 2318 and arrives in Zurich at 0842 the following morning. Unfortunately, I understand that this train service is now suspended.

At this late evening hour the Bologna train station leaves a little to be desired. The elevators are not manned after about 19:00. To us, who are traveling with four heavy bags, this means leaving the IC track, walking down steps to the underground concourse, then up the steps to the main concourse and to our EN track.

The reservations we had on the EN were not quite correct. The car number (carrozza) and the berths (cuccetta) did not match our reservations. However, we board and get our berths. We share the accommodations with a gentleman from Macedonia and a young couple from Peru. With the lateness of the night and the next train stop over five hours away we retire for the night.

The train conductor takes our passports and will work on our paperwork while we sleep. We fill out a Swiss customs declaration. We sleep fitfully. I believe this train ride in daytime would be a spectacular vista as it passes through the Italian lake region and thence through the Alps.

We awake the following morning when the train is in Bern. Zurich is still over two hours away. It is a beautiful sunny day in Switzerland and my wife is rapidly photographing the countryside. Looking through the window is like looking at a series of picture postcards. You cannot see the Alps in this final portion of the trip but the farmland is very nice. As we approach Zurich we receive our passports and prepare our bags. We arrive at the train station on time and meet our nephew Michael who will accompany us to Winterthur. There is no formal immigration check at Zurich, another sign of Switzerland’s full integration into the Schengen convention.

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