Now that our Mountain yacht is completely ready, including roof rack with extra spare tire, bike rack and airconditioning for the Box, it is time to go on a long summer trip.
After some research we decide to go to Italy via Germany and Switzerland and take the ferry to Greece in southern Italy and then back via the Balkans. We leave in June 2023 with a temperature of around 30 degrees C, in what will later turn out to be just about the hottest summer ever.
The first day we drive about 500 km, we reach Roschbach where we spend the night at a small winery. After a wine tasting we eat a fresh pizza that we brought and go to bed in time. The next morning we are leaving for Switzerland. The goal is the Grand St. Bernard pass.
The Grand St. Bernard pass to Italy
Instead of the tunnel, we of course take the Grand St. Bernard pass. it is always a matter of checking in advance whether we can handle it. Both in terms of weight and Size. Fortunately, this pass will work. The pass up is a bit narrow in places and oncoming traffic regularly has to back up or even stop to let us through. We need almost full width of the road, especially in the tight hairpins. Luckily the oncoming traffic is very accommodating and we only get thumps up when we pass.
We have driven this pass regularly, also with our Sprinter 4×4, but this is a quite different dimension. We arrive at 2.473 meters, drive just over the Swiss-Italian border and park or Mountain Yacht at bar Ristorante Du Lac. If you eat in the restaurant you can also stay overnight. When the sun sets, it cools down considerably and at night the temperature is just above freezing. There is still snow here and there.
The next morning we descent towards the Aosta valley. This side of the pass is a walk in the park compared to the Swiss side, the road is much wider and has far fewer sharp bends. The views are majestic and we soon drive through the tree line again to the direction of the wide main valley of Aosta. We then drive towards Courmayeur.
Courmayeur and Surroundings
We arrive in beautiful and fashionable Courmayeur. This is a destination we love to visit in both winter and summer. Epic mountains, with the Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc) massif and still relatively quiet. The food is absolutely amazing and still affordable. The famous Italian hospitality is never far away and we decide to stay here for a couple of days.
We really love the mountains above Courmayeur. Fantastic skiing in Winter and beautiful walks in Summer. Numerous Mountain Bike trails or just ride over the meadows. In the direct vicinity of Courmayeur are the Val Ferret and Val Cenis Valleys. just amazing wildlife and nature, perfect for cycling!
There are numerous restaurants in the mountains and the valleys, traditional Italian cooking at very reasonable prices. Classy in Courmayeur with gourmed dishes and ‘old school’ in the Val Ferret en Val Cenis valleys. Wherever you go, you can’t go wrong. we have several great lunches and dinners and even the wine is very affordable.
After a few days we have our first (and for the time being our last) rainy day. We move on to adjacent Pre-Saint-Didier to go rafting. Directly opposite the rafting outfit is a camper place, right on the Dora Baltea river. It rained heavily last night and when we arrive it is still raining. This caters for a spectacular swollen river. Since you do not stay dry with rafting, this is the perfect activity when it rains. The river is very nice and wild and we fully enjoy the extreme rafting experience.
Skiing in high summer, because we can
We drive on to Cervinia, another great Italian Mountain Village with the advantage that it is connected to Swiss Zermatt by a skilift, so you can ski here even in summer. It also has a large camper place at the beginning of the village, with views on the Swiss Matterhorn. When we arrive it is still cloudy with some rain, but it soon starts to clear up and the sun even comes out every now and then.
We take the ski lift up and walk down, having lunch in a picturesque mountain restaurant along the way. Scotty comes along and she runs up and down, through streams and snow and never gets tired. A day later, Scotty can babysit the Mountain Yacht because we are going skiing, high summer! We take our skiing gear out of the storage hatch and take several cable cars to reach the Matterhorn Ski Paradise at an altitude of 3.900 meters.
We are one of the first skiers to use the new Alpine Crossing cable car, which has openend just the day before. It is beautiful on top of the mountain because where it rained below, it snowed here! A fresh snow dusting on the pistes look a lot friendlier than slush. Due to the relative high temperature, the snow on the slopes quickly starts to become mushy, but we enjoy it to the fullest, because we can!
It was great coming back to the Aosta region in summer. We just love the rugged mountain ranges, the Italian food en the fantastic hospitality. Not overcrowded and still affordable when you compare it to some mountain resorts in other countries. Yes, it is a 1,5 longer drive than the obvious Austrian, French and Swiss resorts, but in our opinion totally worth it.