Mike at the gardens in Locarno
A harder day planned than yesterday which although shorter at 60km had a reasonable climb (c. 350m) towards the end. Thunderstorms were also forecast for late afternoon so we had to keep an eye on our time. Breakfast was okay but not as good as in the other hotels we had stayed at which was disappointing given the 4*ranking of the hotel. However, it was very pleasant sitting on the terrace.
Our route this morning took us across flat farmland to Locarno at the northern shore of Lake Maggiore. The cycle path was very busy with guys out on their training runs and families out with their kids, plus some walkers for good measure. It is great to see so many people out enjoying a fine morning. It would have been a tough ride if the wind had been up but we had perfect still conditions. The only moment of excitement was crossing the river where the path had been washed away by a recent flood.
We found a lovely restaurant with a terrace overlooking the lake just on the outskirts of Locarno. Stopped for a welcome coffee before taking the lakeside path into town proper. Busy but very relaxing with the lake just to our left, lots of trees, pretty houses and no cars. Saw some water-skiers out enjoying the fine morning. We went to the renowned Grand Square which was cobbled so hard for Mike to take footage of me with his GoPro as he also cycled round with me. We both felt peckish by now so had our cheese and jam sarnie in the Giardina Rusca admiring a very fine brass bull.
As I mentioned with a wary eye on the weather we had no time to linger, however tempting, so decided not to day and retraced our footsteps to Gudo (about 35 km into our ride) where we rejoined the Route 3 bike trail and crossed the Ticino and started our ride to Bedano. Mentally a bit difficult to have such a large detour (c. 30km) but worth it to experience the ride round a small section of Lake Maggiore which I really enjoyed.
A lot of this cycle tour was about exploring and visiting new areas to see if we would want to go back to them at a future date and what the cycling opportunities might be. We were both taken by the very Italian style of this area, how different it felt culturally and architecturally to the Valais. Would be very happy to come back again, in good weather to explore the areas round the lakes.
Back to our ride, unfortunately on our way back through the farmland the swarms of flying ants had got much worse, especially around the sweetcorn fields and it was very unpleasant cycling through them even with glasses on and my mouth shut. They still managed to get into my ears! Yuck.
Our route took us out over the Ticino river valley to the Vedeggio river valley which drains into Lake Como by Agno. Fortunately we went round the shoulder of a hill / mountain (mt Ceneri) rather than over the top of it. Still a hard climb of 350m. To fortify ourselves we had some fruit at a nice spot by a fountain at the base of the climb. Then on up – or so we thought. I saw a cafe/ restaurant just into our climb and we decided to stop off as we were not sure if any restaurants would be open on a Sunday night in Bedano (or whether it would be raining and we wouldn’t want to go out!) Great salads for both of us with some hot crispy chips and a small beer each. A little more than we needed especially with the climb ahead and it did rest a bit heavy on my stomach on the way up but a really enjoyable lunch. Really good vibe with lots of locals. Birthday party celebration on the table next to us. Covid 19 felt a long way away.
The climb was a slog, and very hot. We were on a designated bike path on the side of a busy road. Glad our path was wide (in v good condition) as even though there was another main highway also going over the pass our road had a lot of traffic. Fortunately there were places we could stop to catch our breath and cool down as well as admire the views down to Lake Maggiore. With the clouds gathering it felt a different day to when we had been ambling round the shore earlier.
The cycle down from the pass made up for the ride up. We quickly left the main road and Route 3 took us through minor back roads through the woods, past vineyards and then down to a gravel path along the banks of the river. Half way down we had a cooling rest at a shrine, where I also sampled some grapes (not quite ripe!). One last short but steep climb up to our hotel in Bedano – the Charme Hotel Osteria Carletti. A very pleasant old farmhouse, and nice that we could store our bikes inside as later that night the heavens opened. Simple but comfy room. Mike followed the cricket on his phone whist I researched somewhere for dinner. Found a great pizza place (Osteria del Reno) a 20 min walk away where we had an excellent red wine and pizza. Click play to see a slideshow of our photos.
Tomorrow will be our travel day home as although we had initially planned to cycle to Lake Como and stay for a couple of nights at Cernobbio rain was forecast all day Monday so we cut our trip short.
- Very successful bike tour.
- Kit excellent
- Views wonderful
- Both pushed ourselves outside our comfort zone but showed what we could do on old mtbs
- would be happy to come back to this area and explore further
- distances were about right
Link to detailed route page and map click on route title