Monte Generoso it's called, and it's been a real treat for me, tourists and all. Yesterday afternoon I hiked up from the south shore of Lago di Lugano.
The woods walk was nothing special, but a few hundred meters below the summit the trees reached the crest and the bottom dropped out on the other side. The southeast face had been cleaved into a huge cliff. The trail followed the ridge across to the other side of the 1704m mountain and suddenly there appeared a cog railway and a large restaurant. I knew something would be up here, but I hadn't expected a railway. No wonder I'd seen so many people in the last 15 minutes. And all those families walking down the trail I came up. I'd been impressed with the fortitude of the children to have walked up something so long and steep. Not likely.
Over dinner in the restaurant, Francesco Isgro, who manages the restaurant, told me that the rail line and restaurant had celebrated their 120th birthday last year. The rail cars had been updated from steam to diesel to electric during that time, and various owners had gone bankrupt over the years. But it's doing well enough now that this building will be replaced with a new one including a hotel in 2013.
It was so beautiful and suddenly peaceful when the last train descended at 5:45 that I simply couldn't help myself: I cut the hiking day short and installed myself on a bench on the summit where all I could hear as the sun eventually set was the tinkling of goat and sheep bells and the bleating of their bedded-down owners.
As the sun set, the western skyline clearly revealed the perfect outline of the Matterhorn. The entire northern horizon was ragged with hundreds of peaks. The northeast skyline displayed most of the ridgelines I've followed since Bernina (barely visible but clear enough). The north and west shows the crests that I will follow in the next couple of weeks. Though at the end of today I technically reach the southernmost point in Switzerland in the city of Chiasso, for me it's the summit of Generoso that makes it truly significant.
Never have I had such a vantage over my journey, spanning a month from Bernina to the Matterhorn if all goes according to plan. I'm now halfway through this summer of hiking, and the weather could not possibly be better. Last night the lights came on in all the cities and towns and reflected in the dark lakes. This morning the alpenglow turned Monte Rosa pink just a few minutes before the sun came up. It all took place here on the summit of Monte Generoso, and I couldn't be more grateful.