Switzerland for the day: doing the Heidi Hustle

Svizzera: the country of hole-y cheese, milk chocolate and Ricola, among other things. With a mere distance of 59 miles between Lecco and the high mountain border of Splügen Pass, I’m ashamed that it took us this long to drive north into Switzerland for motives other than escaping the heat. Let’s go to Heidiland! From the Italo-Swiss border it’s 49 miles to Maienfeld, the setting where Johanna Spyri introduced Heidi to the world. To tell the truth, I didn’t even know an actual Heidiland existed until recently.

Anyone “young” enough to remember dimple-faced Shirley Temple in that unforgettable role should love Heidiland. It’s designed for kids, to be sure, but the walk up to Grandfather’s hut promises almost 2 hours of strolling through forest that we thought would be a cinch to do in the cool swiss alpine air. Boy was I wrong! It was as hot and humid there as it is here in the chestnut forest, and that’s while walking in the shade. After a half-mile of panting dogs and sweat dripping down our backs, we threw in the towel and turned back. Heidiweg (Heidi path) turned into Heidi Hustle — undoubtedly the shortest hike that we’ve ever been on.

If you arrive by car the best spot to leave your vehicle is at the Heidihof Restaurant parking lot (free) at the end of Bovelweg lane. Take the footpath at the far end that leads down to the right. It eventually brings you to the neighborhood of Ober Rofels where there’s the museum and a souvenir shop. From there, Heidiweg (red signs) point the way up to where Heidi called home.

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