Alpine Life

 

The Flying Longhorns relish in the leisurely pace of Switzerland and Italy.

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The Swiss village of St. Moritz, tucked into the southeastern corner of the country, is lush with awe-inspiring vistas and fresh mountain air. Life in the town—with its cobblestone main square, colorful flowers, and bubbling fountains—is orderly and clean.

In a town this picturesque, it’s easiest to sit back and enjoy the countless views. And that’s just what a group of 32 Flying Longhorns did over 10 days this fall.

22323254575_df485350fb_oOne of them was Aubrey Smith, BBA ’52. He appreciated the ease of public transportation and was impressed by the city’s modernity.

“I enjoyed the ability to be able to ride the bus and rail with no problems,” he says. Smith, 84, went on the trip solo.

“Aubrey was hiking up the mountains with us,” says Megan Clifton, trip host and Texas Exes director of creative services. “What an inspiration that was.”

Smith, who has traveled extensively, says that what he most relishes is meeting interesting people and making new friends.

“I like to get out in the country and see what goes on and how people live,” he says.

In addition to daily interaction with welcoming St. Moritz locals, the group spoke with town leaders about government, taxation, and quality of life.

Travelers were given ample leisure time to explore the town via gondola and train. Towering over the heart of the Engadine Valley, the rolling hills overlook sparkling turquoise waters and quaint buildings. Although visitors marveled at a much greener landscape than cosmopolitan skiers often see, it was no less grand. The resort town is a popular destination for posh celebrities and a well-known site for winter sports.

Alpine Life

The Bernina Express, a famous Swiss train, carried passengers across the Alps from glaciers to Italian palm trees. Later in the trip, the group ventured to the town of Stresa, where they spent a day exploring Italy’s Lake District and the Borromean Islands. The region’s scenery was grayed by bouts of rain, but the spirited group took it in stride.

“Rain is good for the skin; it makes you grow. That’s kind of the way I decided to take it,” Barbara Bigham, Life Member, says. “Not much you can do about [the weather]!” adds her husband Bob, BBA ’61, Life Member.

22333500211_d635156d0d_oInstead, they chose to find joy in the smaller moments. Bob recalls a Sunday spent in the charming lakeside village of Orta San Giulio, where they stumbled across a wedding at a small church.

As he and his wife sipped a glass of wine at a sidewalk cafe, savoring a break in the clouds, they noticed a three-wheeled Italian scooter zipping toward them on the cobblestone street. The electric blue vehicle was overflowing with bouquets of white flowers, and a beautiful bride in a flowing gown was hunched over in the back.

“Here comes this little golf cart, all decorated, with the bride, and the whole wedding party following it,” Bob recalls. “The streets were so narrow! It was a very unusual scene.”

The scooter rolled to a stop in front of them, and the pair began to laugh. As the bride was helped out of the tiny Piaggio Ape Calessino and escorted into a restaurant for the reception, the two returned to their vino, reveling in the unhurried pace of Italian life.

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The trip switched gears with a final excursion to the stylish city of Milan. There, the group soaked up both art and architecture, including a memorable trip to see Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.”

21710192893_193bae2b8f_oBarbara, who serves on the board of directors for the Dallas Museum of Art, was deeply moved by the experience. “[The painting] touched my absolute soul; it was so outstanding.”

From relaxing strolls to extended fondue dinners, the opportunity to slow down was, ultimately, a chance to reflect.

“We liked just sitting with a glass of wine and enjoying the moment,” Bob says.

Barbara, a two-time cancer survivor, agrees. “Happiness is a choice; every day is a blessing.”

Photos from top: A shop in Orta San Giulio; A mountaintop view of St. Moritz; the Bernina Express; a picturesque window in Zuoz; a traveler celebrates his birthday in Orta San Giulio; Barbara Bigham takes in the artwork at an estate on Isola Madre. Photos by Rye Clifton.

 

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