Into Italy (and traffic)

Another multi-day post. On Wednesday, we set off from Bellinzona (see below for a photo of its scenic castles – a UNESCO heritage site). We appreciated some rest after our wet pass climbing, and enjoyed taking in a few sights, along with a lot of pizza. Those calories don’t replace themselves!

As we left Bellinzona, the weather cleared completely. It almost made us wish we waited before crossing the St Gotthard, but not quite! I don’t think we could have managed a two-day stop in Andermatt.

We misread some chevrons early in the day and were surprised by a big 10% climb. We eventually got up it though. As we approached the lakes on the Swiss-Italian border, our route-finding got trickier, and we had to settle for a hasty lunch just by a busy road. We had hoped to get just into Italy on Wednesday, but ran out of steam and stopped to camp at the shore of lake Lugano. (see photo).

We had a restful night, but spirits were low the next day. Perhaps delayed fatigue from our big climbs?

We set off late at 11am, and had a long lunch stop in Chiasso, just inside Switzerland. It turned out that the long stop was worthwhile- as soon as we crossed the border and headed for Como, the road got very busy and steep! This set an unwelcome pattern for the afternoon.

We’ve been all set to like Italy, but our first few hours have been dominated by thundering traffic and agonisingly tough route-finding. At times it felt like every juggernaut in Lombardy was hovering by our rear panniers.

We pushed on though, and quite by chance found a cycle trail for the last 10k to Bergamo, our objective. It was a slow windy one, though, so we didn’t get to the city until it was quite dark, eventually finding a pricey but luxurious hotel at about 830pm. A stressful and exhausting ride…

Bergamo is an impressive place, one of the city-states of Lombardy. The old town and new town are linked by a funicular railway. We’re staying just off a big boulevard in the new town, but spent this morning wandering round the cobbles and piazzas of the old town.

The afternoon was full of logistics, as we searched out more detailed maps in an effort to avoid busy roads on our way to Venice. (see photo of Rachel plotting our route). We’re really hoping for quieter roads tomorrow!

If you’ve cycled in northern Italy, and know of any quiet routes, Di leave a comment!



About johnfitzgerald

philosopher, husband, designer, photographer, quaker, cyclist, canal-boat dweller
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3 Responses to Into Italy (and traffic)

  1. Valentina says:

    Bergamo is beautiful isn’t it… you are entering my second home territory but unfortunately I am inable to help with cycle paths – the only ones I know are around the Dolomites around Bolzano (and there are some spectacular ones) but of no help to you. I do think Italy is lacking things like cycle routes/paths… I would just pick the smaller roads and hope there is not too much traffic along them… There may be better cycle routes close to Verona as I seem to remember some in the city centre but I may be wrong…

  2. Nik says:

    You and your funicular railways! Loving the pics – keep ’em coming.

  3. Sarah says:

    Sounds like you are both having an amazing time!

    I have decided that there is only one way to read your blog:
    1. Look at the photos. Get jealous that I am at work and you are seeing some beautiful sights.
    2. Read the blog. Realise that I am incredibly lazy.
    3. Read the blog again, in an increasingly depressed manner, until I read a bit about the hardship of the cycle, at which point I brighten considerably (also realise that I am such an awful person, but surprisingly feel no guilt)
    4. Look at the photos again and feel glad that I am not having to cycle to see them, when you kindly do all the hard work and just post them for me.

    Keep up the hard work 🙂

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