Italian Mountains & Lakes, Sep '12

Working our way South through The Alps we eventually arrived in Italy. Coming from Switzerland via the Umbrail pass - goodbye Switzerland - sob!

This would be the last 'warm' mountains stop for this trip (hopefully we'll be back for some skiing) and started in Bormio, on one side of the famed Stelvio Pass - I think everyone should be able to guess why we're here!

In addition to a couple of visits to the Stelvio (in the car and on the bike) it was very nice to visit other areas in the mountains and explore on foot as the temperature dropped - what with it being easier to wear many layers while hiking than while pounding the pedals.

Last hurrah on the bike done (did I mention the Stelvio enough?) and first snow of the season touched, back to some warmth by the Italian lakes: Como & Garda and somewhere in between for a chance to spectate at the final cycling classic of the season (see Il Lombardia 2012).

Stunning scenary in this area of course and very, very enjoyable. Things were beginning to get a little chilly by the time came to move on, but all in all, September does seem an excellent time to be here.

09:50

About to enter Italy. Heading up to the Umbrail Pass (yes, few hairpins here!) & looking back into Switzerland.

10:25

Once over the Umbrail, Stelvio is so close might as well have a look. It's pretty bleak up here though!

15:11

OMG... just been handed this map! grin But only booked 4 nights here... & storms are forecast sad Hoping for some luck!

13:20

Cafe at lunch has copies of 'Il Gelatiere': a magazine dedicated to ice cream. Someone approves! Only in Italy? wink

07:55

Ah-ha! Cold (see the snow on the hills?) but sunny. This is more like it! Morning view from the room in Bormio smile

10:10

Hiking in Val Viola. Very chilly (do the icicles give it away?) but stunning, rugged beauty.

18:20

Dinner at 'Al Filo!' in Bormio. Very nice setting in the 'cave'. Lots of food. Here's Pratiwi & her starter. Yum tongue

10:50

Ever used a snow drift as a bike rack? wink Finally got some blue skies but can assure you this ride was rather chilly!

11:00

Second (just) highest paved pass in the Alps! See the name under all those stickers? View down the other side is OK!

11:10

Am glad it snowed last couple of days, because we were here 3 days ago & this place doesn't look good in the nude! wink

11:15

The Umbrail Pass. Well, it would be rude not to visit the Swiss border & another pass as was only a 200m detour! grin

11:35

Few of the 36 official hairpins coming from Bormio. There are more below but they must have got bored with numbering!

11:55

Already at 1586m altitude but there's 36 hairpins left to do. Or you've done 72 if coming back down like I was! wink

14:35

Gavia pass: Snowy up top. Warm & green down low. Note the Giro connection but road is very rough. Good luck in 2013!

14:50

Messing around at Passo del Gavia. Pratiwi showing how to throw &... erm... 'catch' snowballs. And make a snowman wink

10:30

In Italy, but had a look up a valley into Switzerland as we passed. Lakeside train station here: nice waiting room!

14:30

If noodles are hard to come by in Europe, what to do when finding a store that sells your favourite brand? wink Yum! tongue

16:05

Arrived in Menaggio & love the view. A few shots straight off the balcony. 12/85/300mm (DX) if you're wondering wink

15:20

Today's ride in the hills above Lake Como. Amazing views, but keep your eyes on the insane roads & insane drivers! wink

17:30

Home made chicken & vegetable soup. Yuuuum tongue

18:05

Sitting on the balcony at dusk, looking across at the lights on the other side of Lake Como. Nice way to 'unwind' wink

11:50

When in Italy... wink Simple but tasty lunch at home. Nom, nom, nom! tongue

15:20

Late afternoon walk down to 'central' Menaggio here by Lake Como. Stopped for gelato. Or was that the plan all along?

14:30

This morning's ride was round a misty Lake Como. Menaggio to Bellagio. Shots on the ferry back home. Nice way to end.

09:20

First ferry of the day: looking back to Menaggio then approaching Varenna on the opposite side of Lake Como.

09:40

Short stop in Varenna. Lots of narrow, steep alleys lead up from the water, crossed by more to complete the maze!

11:00

Two more ferries sees us leave Varenna, briefly back in Menaggio then approaching Bellagio. Confused yet!?

11:55

Well, we don't go out for lunch often so might as well do it right wink Food with a view at Hotel Florence, Bellagio smile

13:15

Wondering the streets of Bellagio. Lots more narrow, steep places to explore in the sunshine... where it can get it.

14:30

Last ferry. So it's goodbye Bellagio as we head home. Lucky to have sunshine all the way, great day out on Lake Como!

11:15

Lunch in 'Legends Pub'. One wouldn't expect much, but... best value so far? €7 for rosemary lamb shanks & chips! tongue

16:20

Pratiwi making a new friend wink One of the advantages of staying at an agritourism place (accommodation on/by a farm).

16:30

Even though we are above Lake Garda it's not visible from here. Still - can't complain about the autumn sunset, huh?

17:50

Dinner tonight. They like their meat here. When that's what you order, that's what you get! Leaves room for desert smile

18:40

Very well behaved farm dog, just sitting outside the kitchen & watching on. Looked pretty funny from the restaurant!

12:15

Went for short walk & lunch in 'Gardone Riviera'. Pretty, but I don't know - something Como has is lacking at Garda?

18:30

Another meat-ful dinner (this is just the entrée!). Prosciutto & peaches very nice. Interesting drinks trolley too smile

01:40

Kitchen closed on arrival at Costa Valle Imagna. Nooo! Luckily the host whipped up a small cheese/meat plate. Yum! tongue

10:05

Walking on the ridge around Valcava Pass. Great views to Lake Como & rest of Lombardy. Almost caught dinner too wink

18:18

View from Passo di Valcava. Was riding the roads down there today (& up to this pass of course). Really quite nice smile