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IV Circumnavigating Lake Como on BMW Motorcycles

We didn’t get riding quite as early as we wanted yesterday, but we did get a ton of riding in today.  I think cheap grappa last night put me over the edge, and we needed breakfast, but the hotel turned out to be just as creepy as the night before, with the host hovering over the unappetizing continental breakfast that the hotel offered.  Also, no one drinks coffee here (cafĂ© Americano, that is…), but instead; caffeine is consumed in tiny sips of expresso, which isn’t really enough to get me going in the morning. 
So with no restaurants anywhere in town, alas we succumbed to McDonalds like a couple of typical American tourists. Finally on the road by 10, the GPS told us we could be to the top of Lake Como by noon (estimated ETA of about 1), and then back down the eastern side of the lake by around 3, when the Museo Moto Guzzi opened. 
We rode back up through the tolls in Como, then up the western side of the lake, not stopping every few miles for pictures like we had done two days prior, even though the landscape was so rich and varied, only a few major landmarks looked familiar.  The temperature gauge on our bike was showing about 4-6C, a little warmer than yesterday, but still kind of chilly trying to get up the lake as fast as possible. 

We didn't really stop until a town called Domaso, a little north of Gravadona where we had a pizza a couple of days ago.  
There was a beautiful scene with a sailboat situated in the middle of the lake, and I left the bikes and ran back to frame it within the horizon between the two distant mountains... towering out of the water. 

We rode on up the lake, and must have crossed the Fiume Mera, up along the eastern edge of Lago Mazzola.  The area looked much more industrial than the vacation paradise of the previous lakes, but we were low on gas (not to mention unsure we had reached the top of the lake yet), so we pushed on towards a town built into the side of a mountain, which I'm pretty sure was Novate Mezzola along the Pozzo di Riva. 

We were ahead of schedule, invigorated by the ever-changing scenery (the fall greenery and palm trees had become more scrub brush on the mountainside),  so we tried riding up the little streets in town to get a better camera angle at the valley below, even though the inclines were dizzying.  Alex has ridden Enduro for years, and though I knew I could get up the hill, I wasn't so sure I could get down.  
The streets were extremely narrow as well, so after another photo-inspired stop, we decided to find some hills somewhere down the road where we could do some real mountain riding, after stopping for gas somewhere around Campo.
  Unfortunately, one wrong turn at Trivio Fuentes put us on the highway, through tunnels for 30-40 km, almost all the way to Varenna. 
So we decided to backtrack northward, and find some winding roads up the mountain.
We found a route up through Bellano, that make the word "twisties" seem like a pathetic parlance to describe our route up the mountain. 
We ascended hundreds of feet in minutes, with one hairpin after another, following behind a commercial school bus, whose driver was better with ten ton vehicle (honking at every corner), than I was on two wheels.

  One blind 270' turn after another, ascending out of the town into forest, then into little farm towns, on roads about half the width of a normal traffic lane in NYC. 
Church in Pradello, Como Italy
 We stopped at several amazing churches as we passed through little hillside villages like Pradello and Vendrogno, as the sun sank in the sky, until we could no longer see the lakes, only snow caps in the distance.  
Church in Vendrogno, Como, Italy
By the time we got to Margno, the sun was casting long shadows over the mountains, and we were worried we might be a little late to get down to Lecco. 
So we wound our way back down the mountains, back and forth down rural hillside roads, that looked more like paved donkey paths than avenues for tourists, until we found a larger highway.

We were waylaid by a train, but found ourselves at the Moto Guzzi Museum at exactly 3pm, when the museum opened for only an hour a day.  The museum was spectacular, but I will tell that story in another article. 
I think we've been extremely lucky on this trip.  I've done some research on where we have gone, but not a great deal.  Our routes have been loosely coordinated, and our lodging plans have basically consisted of finding WiFi somewhere in the afternoon, and finding a reputable hotel with parking on Expedia.  
I had saved Bellagio for the last night, as several people had highly recommend the beauty of this resort town, situated at the base of the two legs of Lake Como (shaped like an upside down "Y") 
 We found a hotel called Il Vicolo (while stopped in the city of Lecco) an extremely modern hotel, with surprising luxury for under a hundred Euro per night (split of course between two travelers). 

We unpacked, and headed out on  our bikes to explore the hillside town, and find the only restaurant open in town, at the Hotel Suisse, right on the waterfront.

The Route:


Campo, and towns north of Lake Como:

Switchbacks and Towns in the Hills above Bellano (Pradello, Vendrogno, Margno) 

Bellagio at night:

NEXT: Addio Bellagio as We Bring the Bikes Back to Milan

 © 2015 Tigh Loughhead


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