As a child and teenager I spent a number of Summers around Italian lakes such as Lago di Garda and Lago Maggiore, it is not all that far to drive from the Netherlands, but it had been a while since I last was there. Last Summer I returned with Rune to Lago Maggiore after the trip to Paris to visit my brother-in-law, who was living and working in a tiny village on the eastern side for a year. His girlfriend had also come to stay for social reasons.
Lago Maggiore is on the southern side of the Alps with the lake being both in Italy and in Switzerland, and it gets overrun by tourists every Summer because of the accessibility travel-wise and the lovely scenery (mostly on the western side). We didn’t see a lot of sights where he lived, but we decided on driving around the lake one day.
The first stop was at L’eremo di Santa Catarina del Sasso, a Roman Catholic monastery on a rocky perch on the eastern side of the lake. Stairs had to be descended (and ascended later because we didn’t take the lift back up) to get to the monastery and the amazing view.
After relaxing and enjoying the weather, we drove on north until we were stopped by the border police just before the border to Switzerland. They wanted to see passports and wanted to know what we were up to. I had not brought along my passport (unlike everybody else…), but they were satisfied with my driver’s license, so on we went until we stopped in Locarno on the western side and Swiss part of the lake.
Here we mostly wandered about in the older city centre and after a few hours we took off again. My brother-in-law had come up with this idea we should drive up the mountain Cardada and at the time it really sounded like a good idea. It was however a rather scary ascent; after driving out of Locarno, the road turned narrow (broad enough for a small car) and bendy (no rails to prevent a possible drop). A few locals drove up and down the road at crazy speeds, but it was a bit hairy at times because we couldn’t see them coming and neither could they see us. After a while, Rune and I just got out of the car and walked back in the direction of Locarno, taking photos here and there, while my brother-in-law and his girlfriend continued, though they didn’t go all the way to the top either.
When we were all united again, we drove on, back to Italy, along the nice western side of Italian Lago Maggiore until our loop was complete and food could be had.