|Lake Como at Argegno|
It is easy to get a flight to Milan and then catch a local train up to Lake Como. Furthermore, I didn't have to deal with the hassle of carrying my bike on a plane. I hired a nice Pinarello from a local company there, Lake Como Cycling. That made the cycling side of my trip slick and seamless.
I spent time working in Milan not so long ago and for about 18 months Como was my regular hang-out. It was just a case of a local train from Cadorna station, near my bedsit, and in an hour I would be on those beautiful lakeland shores enjoying the sights and sounds of this sought-after destination.
On a bicycle it's a beautiful area to ride. It's not entirely flat, but there are plenty of non-challenging slopes. In fact, if you don't want to go far you can just ride around the gardens near the Villa Olmo.
|Start of the climb into the Intelvi Valley|
Alternatively why not challenge yourself a little more and ride up the classic Madonna del Ghisallo climb, and if you are feeling really energetic go over the excruciatingly steep Muro di Sormano. The reward is a beautiful descent after the Pian di Tivano back to the lake road at Nesso.
Or from Ghisallo you can just descend to Ponte Lambro, near Erba and then return to Como via little villages on quiet roads and do a lovely descent from near Ponzate.
These are all routes that I used to do in those days. I thought I'd done the best bits.
Well actually, there's a fair bit more - as I found on my recent trip.
What about the Intelvi Valley. Folks don't really talk about that.
Get past Cernobbio, which can be a bit busy and then go on a quiet road below the main SS340 road, passing small villages, including Laglio, where George Clooney has a property. You arrive at Argegno and the fun starts there.
A 10km climb leads up to a series of villages with Intelvi in their name, the main one being San Fedele Intelvi. At this point we are in border country, as Switzerland is literally a stone's throw away. If your bike chips along a stone that stone could just as likely land in Italy as Switzerland!
|Lugano near Porlezza|
I could have returned to Lake Como via the SS340 to reach Menaggio but why do that when you can go into the Val Rezzo! So that's where I went - another gradual climb up to an area that was practically devoid of much human life, just various hillside farms and old buildings. I did see a postman in his mini van-float. He must have had a fun job delivering mail to all ten recipients - even if they were spread over a 20km radius!
|Up in the hills at Val Rezzo (near Carlazzo)|
|Como - my favourite lake!|
I must admit, by then I was getting a little bit tired as I began to feel the 70km I had ridden. My lack of fitness was beginning to tell, and I began to contemplate letting the ferry do the remaining 20km for me back to Como. After all, I had done 60km the previous day and over these two days I hadn't had any cake! A trip along the lake would be a just reward. In the end I soldiered on by bike back to Como - I had no choice. The ferry man at Argegno said that on this busy Saturday afternoon he couldn't admit a bike until the 6pm crossing, and I wasn't prepared to wait two hours.
Back in Como, I felt really satisfied to have visited the old hang-outs that I knew and loved, as well as some new very interesting territory. And I still had time to go along for the passeggiata and have an ice cream.