We are camped at Porlezza on Lago di Lugano en route to the Italian Formula One Grand Prix at Monza. Lugano is a small lake (compared to lakes such as Maggiore and Garda) that straddles Switzerland and Italy. Porlezza is in the Northern Italian part and is a very beautiful town. The houses are painted in subtle oranges and yellows and cling to the side of the mountains like a wild wisteria. This is our second year here and spookily we are camped on the same pitch as last year. It’s a lakeside pitch and so can’t be reserved and you can’t use the ACSI card to get a reduced rate. Pure fluke it was available when we arrived! It’s our little bit of extravagance. Dora’s door and canopy are parallel to the lake and as we are the Northern end we drift off to sleep to the sound of the waves gently lapping on the shore. The view down the lake is simply stunning. The mountains rise from the water like a slalom wending into the distance and the clouds sit like rolled cotton wool draped across them. On an evening the village lights twinkle across the water like a magical fairy land. Last year we were going to cycle from Porlezza to Menaggio on Lago di Como, but the weather turned very stormy, so we left a day early. This morning we awoke to rain, but it soon cleared and we set off on our bikes; not before Slaw made some repairs to my bike, straightening the handlebars and re-affixing the front mudguard (read Give Germany a go!)
The route from Porlezza to Menaggio passes Lago di Piano and you cycle through the beautiful nature reserve. The route is a mixture of rough track and Tarmac; it follows a disused railway line in parts and even has a tunnel with lights. In the main it’s off the busy road that runs parallel, with just one small part where you cross over at Cardano and is very poorly signed. As soon as you come out onto the road, after the builder’s yard, cross over and take the next left, at the end of that road turn right and you’ll pick up the signs again. The signs to follow are ‘Ciclopedonale Menaggio-Porlezza’ and when you come to the end of the cycle track just above the town, we avoided the main road and followed ‘percorso pedonale per Menaggio’. It’s a 12.5km route, but including our bit to and from the campsite it was 18 miles in total and there was a very steep descent into Menaggio and, of course, a very steep ascent back out again! Not for the faint hearted.
We were shocked at how many English were in Menaggio; it seemed to be every other person! It’s not our scene – we prefer to be the minority tourist. Menaggio has a pretty town square with the obligatory street cafes and each lamppost is decorated with what looked like a tutu in Italian flag coloured net – very effective. The town is adorned with an abundance of red geraniums lining the shore of the lake and, of course, there are many blue and white striped wooden poles in the water to give your photographs just the right amount of perspective. We sat in the square, ordered our food and ‘due birra’ and settled back into our favourite pastime of people watching. So disappointing that so many English don’t have the common decency to learn just a few words in the host language. With only buongiorno, si, non, grazie and a pointed finger and a smile, they could have managed perfectly well. I mean, what is difficult about Peroni, spaghetti carbonara and tagliatelle bolognese??? But, no. The first words that are spoken are ‘do you speak English?’ I hung my head in shame for them 😦
Slaw was on the warpath today when they brought his Peroni; it was cloudy and he was having none of it. The waiter had the audacity to tell him Peroni is usually cloudy. Oh dear! Red rag to a bull! The waiter got a right dressing down, especially when Slaw had been fobbed off with a bottle of Becks (in Italy? Really?) and then he spotted clear Peroni being served. Off he went and came back with a free one and a smug feeling. The waiter didn’t appear again after that. Did it spoil our day? Not in the slightest. We managed tre laghi in un giorno and enjoyed a pleasant 18 mile bike ride and lovely lunch.