Over 2,200 years ago, Roman legions marched over the saddle of the Matterhorn home to Italy. Today skiers follow their route in ways unknown to the Romans and faster than they ever dreamed. However, in Zermatt you still get around like the Romans – á piède. In this historically rustic resort, the fastest moving vehicle is a horse drawn sleigh! That does not mean the comforts of modern life never made it up here – quite the contrary. There are wonderful hotels, shops, restaurants, spas, bars, a panoply of sports facilities, and cafés to enjoy while taking in the very cosmopolitan atmosphere.
Do your exercises though before coming to Zermatt–its world famous skiing tests everyone’s mettle. Major construction and ongoing lift redevelopment have resulted in a highly integrated, efficient, and up-to-the minute system. With Italy’s Cervinia, 74 lifts, from underground trains to a 150-person cable car and high-speed chairs, whisk you to 240 miles of trails and extensive offpiste powder. The three interconnected areas are Sunnegga (with a new funicular in 2013/14), Gornergrat, and Klein Matterhorn and all accessible with the free ski bus. A 125-passenger cable car links Sunnegga and Gornergrat and another between Riffelberg and Furi. In spring, the most fearless try the Tiefbach or, on an April day’s end, do the 35-mile ski marathon with a 31,000-foot vertical. One family bonus is children nine under ski free. For those of us enjoying life at a slightly slower pace, relief from hunger and fatigue is never too far away: Zermatt has 50 mountain restaurants, many gourmet, giving you an inkling of how European skiers savor their mountain lunch!