Friday, July 12, 2013

Lago Ritom: Away from It All

My hubby's just turned 30 (yes, now he's a real man, with a young chit for a wife, LOL) and we wanted to do something special. Well, something very special. Question was what and where.

Well, the what, the actual gift I got him, will have to wait a bit. Because fist i want to talk a bit about Act I of the celebrations, which took place in Lago Ritom, at the border of the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland.
Yes, all you can see at the above link is true. The place is a marvel. It's beautiful, plus, it does have a special vibe. It's hard to explain, but we felt as if embraced by Mother Nature. We did all the trails in the area that were open in June. Sometimes we still had to 'dig' through meter-high snow, but the weather was so wonderfully warm that we didn't really mind. The views from the hilltops (the highest we went was around 2200m) were truly amazing, and none of the hikes were especially taxing. Well, I'm saying that because I decided to jump a river the second day through, and my knee joint... well, let's just say that after that 8-hour summit conquests were out of the question. But my knee fared all the rest of the time, so I guess almost anyone could do those routes.

A couple of things that made Lago Ritom such a special place for us:
  • Beautiful scenery. The lake was a bit shallow that time of year (they drain it every spring I think), but other than that the whole place looked like out of a picture book. And the forests were so wonderfully calm.
  • The easy and rewarding hikes. As I said, you start high enough to have a good vantage point from basically anywhere you go.
  • The nice weather. It's south enough so that summers feel almost Mediterranean, but it's still in the Alps, meaning that mornings are fresh and dewy, and there's a soft breeze blowing through the trees.
  • Charming lodgings. I think this was one of the most important factors. Usually I'm not a big accommodation junky, I sleep in the room and that's it. Cleanliness is the only point I make when reserving rooms, that and location. That said, I was a bit surprised that, staying at the Refugio, our room had no bathroom, only a sink. Both shower and toilet were in the corridor... Then my next shock came when I noticed that, probably due to the fresh paint job, the shower door wouldn't close properly, and the window on said door is fairly translucent... O.O I'm really not shy or anything, (I had to look up bashful in a dictionary, which tells you something...) and wouldn't have minded people passing by noticing that someone was taking a shower, since all you could see was a silhouette... But when my hubby reminded me that people pay for this sort of thing, and some of the men did stop for a few seconds, well, then I decided to cover up the window with a towel. But how come we loved the place so much if all this should have put us off? It so happens that the place has the loveliest boss, and the food was just amazingly good. The man, Luca Canonica, spent so much time with us discussing hiking and local way of life, although he was quite busy! He was friendly and charming, and sometimes really made our day with a story or another. The food his few aids prepared were deliciously simple but very tasty and local. I asked for a wedding cake for my hubby, and was surprised to get something really home-made, with tons of fresh fruits and delicious Ticino cream. Oh, and coffee was just so Italian it was actually one of the best I've ever had. We've actually decided to try out a couple more refuges in the Alps. I much prefer their unpretentious simplicity to the false pampering we got last year in an expensive hotel. I can't really explain how I could put up with the shower story, but I did. I guess I was just smitten about the place and our wonderful host.
  • Good food. I have no more to say on this. Only that if you go a bit later, from July on I think, you can visit the local dairy, get a glimpse of what's going on, and buy some delicious cheese. It wasn't open when we were there, so we stuffed ourselves with last year's batch at the Refugio. We did buy some in the valley, tough, at the famous San Gottardo factory in Airolo.
So, that's it, kids. Now I'm off to pack my bags. My plane's leaving tomorrow in the wee hours, I'm going to see my folks in Hungary. After that we're spending a week in the Alps (again... XD), so I'll be back with tales from the glacier.

A lovely summer to all! ;)



  1. Fleur I'm looking for an private english teacher. Please contact me if you are still teaching in Geneva. gmail adress

    1. Not any more, sorry. Good luck with the search. ;)

  2. Fleur, it is such a pity that you don't post new blog posts. I really love your blog, it was so much fun to read about your experience of living in Geneva.

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    1. Thank you, Iris, it warms my heart to read that. Unfortunately life has gotten extremely busy - and a lot less fun to write and read about. Definitely hope to get back to it one day, though!