Over 2,200 years ago, Roman legions marched over the saddle of the Matterhorn home to Italy. Then 150 years ago, Lucy Walker, became the first woman to climb the Matterhorn, and in a heavy, long tweed skirt! Today skiers follow their route in ways unknown to the Romans and faster than Lucy ever dreamed. We still get around like the Romans – á piède – for in this historically rustic resort, the fastest moving vehicle is a horse drawn sleigh. That does not mean our creature comforts never made it up here – quite the contrary: there are lovely hotels, four restaurants have five Michelin stars between them, shops, spas, a panoply of sports facilities, bars, and cafés to hang out in.
But hit the gym before coming, because Zermatt’s world famous skiing tests everyone’s mettle. Major construction and ongoing development have resulted in a highly integrated, efficient, and up-to-the minute lift system. With Italy’s Cervinia, 74 lifts, from underground trains to a 150-person cable car and high-speed chairs, whisk you to 225 miles of trails and extensive off-piste powder. The three interconnected areas are Sunnegga, 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 at April’s end, do the 35-mile ski marathon with a 31,000-foot vertical. A bonus for families is children under nine ski free and Zermatt honors the Ikon pass for a week’s skiing. For those of us enjoying life at a slightly slower pace, relief from hunger and fatigue is never too far away: Zermatt has 54 mountain restaurants, many gourmet, all offering an inkling of how Europeans savor their mountain dining experiences!