Day 8 – Malcesine to Abbadia Lariana – 233 km

We have completed 1912 km on this trip so far, and have loved every kilometre of it. Well, I say that, but actually, today we didn’t love a couple of the kilometres that we travelled – let me enlighten you. But first, let’s get back to where we were.

We were up by 7 once once more, in our room overlooking Lake Garda. We were mostly packed up, so Lena went for a swim while I pottered about with our kit. Breakfast was at 8, and by then we had the bike loaded, and were ready to roll as soon as we had eaten. We did so from the hotel terrace, enjoying the special view a final time. We were rolling by 0830.

Our route took us back north along the shoreline of Garda, and we hugged the coast as we rounded Riva del Garda at the northern apex, and headed south down the western shore. Views were great, but Saturday traffic was not, and a number of the towns we went through were jammed.

Eventually we turned of the coast road. I had planned a route between Garda and Como that would be pretty and challenging, so we headed up into the mountains that sit between the two. The going was good, but after about 10km we went through a set of hairpins that were pretty difficult on my barge of a bike, and Jellybean got quite distressed by the experience. We stopped, and she downed a beer to steady her nerves while I replanned.

There was no way down from the mountains without some hairpin-ing, but we chose a route offering the fewest tight turns, and picked our way down into Brescia. An industrial town that seemed to be past its finest, we wound our way through it and joined the motorway to Milan. A boring 150km or so on the motorway on a very hot day was not much fun, but it got us towards Lago di Como without the need to traverse any more hairpin bends.

Our second stressful kilometre of the day came at a toll station on the motorway, somewhere near Milan. There was a lot of traffic, and while Italians are known for many positive attributes, efficiency is not one of them. The toll booth operators were very slow indeed.

Now my bike is many wonderful things. However, we have already discovered it is less nimble than most, which is why we were on the motorway in the first place. It also has a 1690cc engine, a few short inches from my legs, and on a day when temperatures were 35 degrees centigrade, and we were stopped for a long time, moving forward one car-length at a time for 20 minutes, that engine threw out a lot of heat, slowly roasting my legs.

A custom bike we met near Milan

I thought that I was just about ready to be able to add some peppercorn sauce to my calf and have a decent meal when we reached the toll operator, handed over our Euro’s, and could put my feet back up on the running boards and ride, delivering much appreciated cool air to my legs and engine.

We reached our destination, Abbadia Lariana, around 1300 ish. A small town on the eastern arm of the upturned Y that is Lake Como, our hotel once more offers us lovely views of the lake. We had to wait for our room to be ready, so downed a quick beer and went for a pizza (finally) at a restaurant next door.

Fed and cooled, I had my obligatory afternoon nap, after which we went for a swim in the lake. So far, we have done pretty well with our hotels, even the budget ones in France, and this is no exception. However, I probably wouldn’t choose Abbadia again if I were visiting Como. The beach was not that clean, and neither was the water we swam in. Cool and refreshing it may have been, but swimming past cigarette butts and other unidentified detritus is not my idea of relaxing waters.

Still, we enjoyed our swim, and cooled off on the grass lawns by the water. Back upstairs to our room for a shower, then a walk along the shoreline to explore the little town, and finally through a warren of small and ancient streets to find another diamond of a restaurant. Hidden in what seemed to be the back verandah of someones house in the maze of cobbled streets, our host runs a fine establishment, with great wine and excellent food. The homemade sausage was fab, and our meals were really good, as was the attention we got from the landlord and his staff. So good, in fact, that we have already booked for tomorrow evenings meal.

Lena is already asleep while I finish of my blog. The internet service is pretty slow here, so my 5 photos are still uploading – I will add them tomorrow. Until then, dear readers……..