Our home for the weekend was a tastefully restored townhouse in the piemontese village of Vogogna, nestling in the Italian Alps. Arriving at 8pm on the Milan to Geneva train, I was already suitably excited by my first glimpse of Lake Maggiore at sunset. Fortunately my housemates for the weekend were no less disappointing: Margo, Katy of Starry-Eyed Travels, Krista of Rambling Tart and Kathy of Food Lover's Odyssey all greeted me warmly and plied me with risotto and wine. Just the kind of welcome I like. As we chatted late into the night, any lingering fears I may have had about holidaying with complete strangers were banished.
|I could get used to waking up to that view|
|Katy and Krista capture Santa Maria Maggiore|
Breaking our journey at the town of Santa Maria Maggiore, I noted that we were definitely still in Italy: the fashions in evidence at the town's boutiques were more cosy than chic, but I was reassured to observe that sunglasses were still very much de rigeur. A town whose good looks even Tyra Banks would be loathe to criticize, Santa Maria Maggiore was a photographers' dream: and oh, the Belles are snap-happy. As my companions wandered through the cobbled lanes clicking away at Alpine dwellings, the town church and a variety of street scenes, even I felt the urge to up my game and put my camera to good use.
|Even the coffee's pretty in Santa Maria Maggiore|
After a mid-morning coffee (another key fixture of Italian life thankfully upheld in the Alps), we re-boarded the train and continued across the Swiss border to Locarno. The change in scenery as we passed from one country to another was imperceptible; the only differences when we alighted were the multilingual signs and the currency (oh, and the more understated sunnies worn by the locals). A short wander around the lakeside town revealed little apart from its waterside setting to interest us on this sunny afternoon: well, that and food. After an hour spent lunching, I can confirm two things: both the gelato and the pizza are just as good on the Swiss side of the border.
You can read about part 2 of the Belles Trip next week.