I went down to Porlezza (274m) from Cardano and followed the lake to Osteno on the way to Fedele d’Intelvi, but went into the Osteno village to take a steeper road up the first part, which soon joins the main road. Two cyclists passed me by, but I caught up with one of them and after wondering how come he was going faster in some places than others, realised that he was going in the highest gear for strength training (I believe, though that is what one usually do in the Winter). Still he managed to keep the same speed as me all the way up (I know one can usually go almost the same speed on very high gears on climbs, but this was a longer stretch than I ever tried on high gears at home).
It was a cloudy day and at a crossroad I followed the road toward Switzerland (should have taken a directer smaller road). This road descends a little before climbing up to Lanzo d’Intelvi, where I decided to stop for an early lunch break. The small grocery was packed with people and they were helping the locals before me, so I was nearly leaving, but waited. This stop took a long time. I sort of found the way up to the road that goes to Monte la Sighignola/Balcone d’Italia (1303m) that I felt very uncertain about whether I wanted to visit this day as there might not be any views at the top and it was the same way back. Still I thought it would be good to get there now that I was so close by and thus continued up.
It is not a hard climb, but it is somewhat long from down in Osteno. It would be a harder climb if climbed from Switzerland via Arogno. The road surface is not the best, but ok. There is an obvious pass without name (and there are many such in the area) at C. Bosco Meriggio (1115m). I finally reached the clouded top and took a photo and went over to the Italian flag there to see if I could see anything down to Switzerland and Lago Lugano. In fact I could see some, because the clouds there were rather thin, but it was hard to get a good photo and the views would have been much better of course in better weather. But at least one get a glimpse here.
It is funny to see a Swiss flag below the Italian flag and this is likely the only place where you could find this scenario as it would usually make more sense the other way around. This is just at the border. On the road down I took a small road that should be a little shortcut to the main road over to Switzerland. This road were not very good though and with some ups and downs. It passed by a football field where there were some festivities planned for later in the day (this being Saturday).
Just after the border the road descends very steeply in hairpins down to Arogno (684m) (I had not remembered that this road should be so steep) and sort was disappointed to go in this direction here. The first thing on the Swiss side was a gas station up in the woods and apparently gas is cheaper in Switzerland than in Italy for some reason (same thing above Tirano).
From Arogno there is a small steep road climbing up to a minor pass that I thought had a real pass name, but have not found it now. The pass is called San Vitale (684m) and it goes to some houses above the Italian enclave Campione d’Italia, which however could not be reached via this road (without walking), but you could get down nearby to the Lago Lugano (the climb up from there might be a tough one, but it is a bit steeper on the part I climbed).
I had planned to take the longer road via Rovio, but now went down directly to Maroggia instead.
Two photos here on the way down to Maroggia.
Then followed the main road (did not find the short-cut cycling path down) to Riva San Vitale, where I stopped for a coca-cola by a grocery. (Close to being hit by a car driver when getting off the main road to down there.) Found a bag outside where a gang of kids had hanged around with an iPhone in it and left it to the lady in the grocery who did not want to understand what it was about, but I just left it with her and took off (I guess she could figure out what it was about). I went to get Swiss money from a money machine before, but later realised I would not need any more Swiss money until very late on my way back later on this trip as I was quickly back in Italy as I got to Porto Ceresio.
On the last part into Porto Cerisio I hanged onto two guys (looking rather Swiss) catching up with me. Apparently well to do guys – the right one had apparently taken part of the Gran Fondo New York. Even though I like that the idea of Gran Fondo type events spreading around, some of these new events very much comes across as events for showing off your new expensive bicycle and look professional, while still not being more than decent amateurs. Oh well, guess I am mostly irritated by the high admission costs for those events and that I do not feel like they are affordable for me. There are also so much great classical events in Europe at much lower costs with far superior routes and prices.
Next up was the Passo del Tedesco (785m). I went right at first at Cuasso, but then followed the main road via Cuasso al Monte instead of taking a steeper more direct little road I had planned to take. After Cavagnano, one finds a turn-off marked Alpe Tedesco, which is the road to take, though on maps it looks like this should be the main road, but the main road goes to a hospital up the hills here. The road over Passo del Tedesco is pretty steep from the turn-off and less good surface on a narrow road. It is a cool road down the other side to Valganna.
After some confusions in Rancio Valcuva where I was not sure which road I was on, I came down to Cuveglio (286m) on a busy road here. I stopped again at a grocery and bought a big soda and drank too much, but as it was warm most would quickly evaporate anyway. Here was another climb I was not so fascinated by and had thought to skip, but as it (beside Monte Legnoncino the day before) were the only two BIG climbs left in the area to do, I thought it was better to do it now. The climb to San Martino (1087m) is quite long and partly somewhat steep. I kept a (quite) good speed up (if I might say so) and overtook another cyclist who I never saw again. I managed to keep the good speed more or less to the top.
It was down the same way I came up. Tried to see if there were a pass sign at the small car parking below, but nothing there. Now I was up with the schedule to where I was supposed to have started the day, so far behind the schedule once again (that is also more or less planned though, so no worry). Then cycled back and further on to Luino by the Lago Maggiore. After asking some people I managed to find the way to the ferry, but the people I spoke to believed that I was not allowed to get the bicycle with me on the ferry from there. It turned out there were no problem whatsoever with that, which was a bit odd as the man I spoke to sounded pretty much like he knew what he was talking of (saying that maybe if I was lucky, but likely not). Maybe he had tried it only when the ferry had been packed with people or something.
I was so happy finding the ferry in time for the next boat and just having enough time for a quick ice cream. It was such a great weather here now and the boat ride was lovely and it felt like I was going on a small private boat over and everyone were friendly and we were only like 5 passengers incl. two kids. The boat took went to another place along the lake and picked up one more passenger before we headed over to Canobbio. I could spend a holiday just riding around here – so lovely I almost got tears in my eyes. The temperature were perfect and it was such a nice relaxing thing after the cycling so it was like listening to great music after a long adventure.
We were going up the lake in the direction of this photo.
Here we are coming into Maccagno were we picked up the one passenger here. Maccagno is the last village before Switzerland on this side of the lake.
Here we are getting close to Canobbio and now you can see rain in the air. Canobbio is the last village before Switzerland on the west side of Lago Maggiore. At Cannobbio I walked and bicycled up from the very busy sea side tourist walk and continued in increasingly good speed up the Valle Cannobina as I was hoping to avoid the ominous rain in the vicinity.
I got as far up as the tunnel before Finero, when the rain started to get serious and there were also some thunder and lightening around. I waited a little in the tunnel and took off again as soon as the rain seemed to be subsiding, but it soon started to get worse. I tried to find a place to stay for the night in Finero, but was soon told there were nothing before Malesco on the other side of the Passo Scopello (Pian dei Sali/Piano di Sale) (964m), which I had hoped to reach in fine weather.
I continued to the pass (alst rainy, blurry photo and the only boring place until there) and was still not all soaked by the rain when I got there, but on the way down to Malesco there were no cover for the rain anywhere and the rain were coming down as badly as ever, so I was soon totally soaked in rain. and kept a slow speed to not also get too dirty and too cold. In Malesco I went on some roads in the centre, finding an hosteria that looked promising, but they had no rooms they told me (maybe they were just too busy for the rain-man). I went down the main road and found a small hotel that was cheap and simple. A lady before me tried to argue for a lower price for a room, but they were already cheap and it was not like I were going to argue here. I got a room and had a shower and went out to have a pizza, beer and listened to some music played there before going to bed.