Lake Como North - An Autumn by the Sea - CycleBlaze

October 14, 2018

Lake Como North

Lake Como has the shape of a large inverted Y.  Varenna sits on the east bank, right at the junction of the three arms of the lake. Straight across, on the West Bank, is pretty and ritzy Menaggio; and in the middle, at the end of the wedge coming up from the south, is tourist-mad Bellagio.  In my view, Varenna is easily the top choice for a place to stay here.  It’s well connected by ferries that run often to the other destinations.

We’ve been here before, on our first tour of Europe in 1993.  Then, we stYed one night in Menaggio.  We covered way too much distance then, and blew through the entire Lake District in just two days: one night in Domodossola, the next in Menaggio, then in Lecco at the southeast end of Lake Como’s giant Y.  We really didn’t see much.  Much nicer to be older, a bit smarter, and moving a bit slower.

Today’s loop is an exploration of the north end.  We catch the ferry to Menaggio, which runs roughly every half hour, lasts about 15 minutes, and costs 6 euros for a person and bike.  Besides being convenient, it gives a beautiful perspective on the lake.

Today’s was a short ride, but we spent over five hours on it.  We really dawdled up the west side, which is lovely the entire way.  Very scenic pleasant riding, and surprisingly diverse.  A great ride.  The ride back down the west side is significantly less pleasant though, with most of the final ten miles spent on the busy main road.  The last few miles north of Varenna have a couple of unavoidable tunnels (unless you choose to add fifteen miles and 3-4 thousand feet of climbing up into the mountains above), that are long enough that you really need a light with you (which we had).

From what we’ve seen so far, Como is a great cycling destination.  There are many cyclists here and some lovely riding.  Ferries run up and down the lake to many destinations, so you could really do any type of ride you were comfortable with.

Our ride began with a ferry across the lake to Menaggio. It sits at the base of a low saddle between two dramatic peaks. Very scenic when you approach by water. We’ll leave Lake Como in two days by returning here and crossing over that gap.
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The mountains just south of Menaggio
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The mountains just north of Menaggio
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Leaving Menaggio, biking north along the lake. Just around the bend is a class of rock climbers scaling the cliff.
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The main road up the west side has many tunnels, which look scary and are banned for bicycles. All of them though can be skirted by riding remnants of the old highway. There are still tunnels, but they’re short and without cars.
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Aquaseria, think? The west side of Lake Como is dotted with beautiful, small villages like this. They all look lik a delightful place to stay. Why would anyone stay in Bellagio?
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Santa Maria
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The ride up the west side is quite varied. Part of the time you’re on the abandoned old highway, like here; or on unpaved lakeside walks; or on the main road. It’s a good ride and feels safe all the way to the north end.
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The hills are very scenic, with colorful houses hanging from their green slopes and an occasional ridgetop church or fortress,
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The magnificent Santa Maria del Tiglio church, XII century Romanesque, sits just off the shoreline. Inside are some well preserved frescoes.
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The interior, Santa Maria del Tiglio
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Above Lake Como
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Above Lake Como
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Around the north end of the lake, we cross the flood plain of the Adda River flowing in from the mountains. You could ride the highway, but there’s this nice unpaved route as well.
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Looking north up the Adda. I think those jagged peaks must be in Switzerland, only a few miles away.
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It takes a pretty special oil can collection to grab my attention.
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Andrea BrownFortunately I had just finished my coffee when I read this, sparing my keyboard.
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1 month ago
The east side of the lake is just as scenic as the west, but not nearly as pleasant on a bike. In most places there is no alternative to the highway, there are a few unavoidable tunnels, and the traffic is heavier. If it makes you uncomfortable, you could just ride up the west side and catch the ferry back.
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On the lakeshore at sundown, waiting for the restaurants to open.
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Bruce LellmanYou take such nice photos, Scott. It takes a skilled eye to capture simple gestures, in humans and animals, that we can all relate to. You make it look easy but I know it is not.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanI really enjoyed watching this trio, who I believe were siblings. They interacted so well together and seemed so carefree. The girl in particular was charming, as she alternately found skipping candidates for her brothers and tossed small pebbles to the seagulls to tempt them to snap them up.
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1 month ago
The fall Coffeeneuring season is upon us! I’ll be larding up the journal with wine shots for the next several weeks, in my quest to find seven different half bottles for the latest Cycle365 events. Today’s submission is a nice Valpolicella, one of my favorites.
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Bennie D. BarfieldI've been following you guys and others for years, this is the best so far i've enjoyed.. So glad Jeff Arnim started this for the riders.. I met him 2-3 years ago..
Ms. Rachel, Not sure why I cannot pull up your videos, stops after about 30 seconds.. What I've seen is superb!!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bennie D. BarfieldHi, Bennie. Thanks for the kind feedback! Nice to know you’re following along and getting something out of this. It really is a great site, isn’t it?
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1 month ago
Rachael AndersonTo Scott AndersonI think the issue with the video is likely to be slow internet. I can’t test it because I have slow internet.
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1 month ago

Ride stats today: 36 miles, 1,200’

Today's ride: 36 miles (58 km)
Total: 1,504 miles (2,420 km)

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