TURIN, Italy — Looking for something more than an urban saunter? Because of its location and the vastness of Italy’s train network, Milan is an excellent launching point for other treks.
To the north, the lakeside villages of charming Como beckon. To the northeast, Bergamo, built into a hillside, offers expansive views and old-country atmosphere.
Both are within an hour’s train ride, as is Turin. This northwest city has one other attribute: It’s your turnstile to the Alps.
Folks come for 7- to-10-day hikes in the Alps, but you can get a delicious taste of it in one day.
Roberto Calcagno of Trekking Alps can tailor a hike to a group’s abilities and desires in the off-season. One recommended excursion for the stout hiker is a day trip up to Cima dei Quattro Denti, in Susa Valley.
On a glorious late fall day last November, the snow-packed French Alps and Italian Alps offered brilliant white brackets to our ridgeline of trees yielding the final colors of the season.
At its apex, we clamber along rocky outcroppings and limestone pinnacles, stuck into the ridge as if Jupiter himself had speared them into the mountainside.
From the ridge, a gorge to the north spills milky roiling waters across boulders. Above, a golden eagle circles, then plummets 600 feet, a guided missile of feathers and fearlessness, before pulling out into a glide. She, strikingly, ascends and once again repeats her plummet, as if a game for our spectating pleasure.
Here, the sun warms us even as it fails to penetrate the clouds encasing the valley and villages below. Across the valley, on the range of mountains to the south, a slight slip of a moon hovers, two fingers above the white snowtop.
We return down a narrow ridge, tunneling through yellow and orange birch glades, the slanting sun turning gold the chestnut leaves beyond. Unsheathed chestnuts and crinkly oak leaves crumble with each footfall.
Michael J. Bailey