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An autumn tour through the sunny part of Switzerland, Ticino. Sept.2018

Yesterday evening I took the train from Bremgarten to Lugano (through the longest tunnel in the world 57 km.) and then by bike to Agno on Lago di Lugano. From here I start my autumn tour through Ticino.

Von Agno aus fahre ich entlang den Lago di Lugano nach Morcote

Agno - Melano

Day 1 Sunday 9th September 2018
Km 39.40
Height 559 m

Lago di Lugano in front of Morcote

The view from the train station in Lugano.

< Chiesa di Santa Maria del Sasso ^

It was supposed to be a spring trip but the weather had thwarted my plan back then.
I cycle from Agno along the lake to Morcote and look for the staircase that leads to the Chiesa di Santa Maria Del Sasso. This famous church (construction begun in 1470) should be seen when you are in the area. But it has a catch; many steps are to be mastered. At step 200, I stopped counting. There must have been around 400!
A few kilometers further I turn off to Vico Morcote. After 150 meters of altitude I 'm there. Need to climb another 300 meters to get to the mountain ridge, which leads via Carona, Ciona and Carabbia to Paradiso.
I want to go to San Salvatore to enjoy the view from the top, but there isn't a road, only a footpath. I take the cable car from Paradiso.
It is worth to pay the 13 Swiss francs; a great view of the Lago di Lugano with surrounding mountains awaits me.

Back in Morcote

400 steps to the Chiesa di Santa Maria del Sasso. The blue is the Lago di Lugano.

150 meters higher is Vico-Morcote

View from San Salsavotore on Agno with airfield on the left and Lake Muzzano right.

It goes steeply up to San Salvatore


Kind couple from Jordan.

View on Lago di Lugano seen from San Salvatore.

I drive up together with a kind couple from Lebanon and, by chance, meet them again on the way down. At the bottom we say goodbye and everyone continues on his way. Mine leads to Melano, Camping Monte Generosa.
This time of year is perfect for camping, a lot of space and there are always a few cyclists to talk with. My tent neighbor is a young man from Lausanne who is traveling to India via Kazakhstan. He has diligently saved in recent years and well prepared the way to realize the long-awaited journey.

Stadtviertel von Lugano, Paradiso

Viel platz um diese Jahreszeit

Camping Monte Generoso in Melano

Melano - Laghetto di Astano

Day 2 Monday 10th September 2018
Km 37, 67
Height 470 m

Farewell to the globetrotter and we go our separate ways, he south, I west.
After about 10 km I leave Switzerland for about 15 miles and come over the bridge in Ponte Teresa (a divided city) back to Switzerland.
Here I stay for a short time and cycle along the Fume Tresa towards Luino until Molinazzo di Monteggio. From here begins the journey through the Malcantone, (one of the highlights of my trip to Ticino.)
I have to cycle up aproximately 400 meters to get to the campsite Lagettho di Astano.
It's lunchtime and the sun is still burning fiercely in September, so I have a coffee break in Sessa.

The Italian side of Lago di Lugano.

On the other side of the lake is Switzerland.

Up to the Malcantone

The only one with tent on the campsite Laghetto di Astano

The villages are small but nice on the hillside with narrow streets, mostly 1 to 2 churches and 1 to 2 restaurants.
It is only 3pm when I arrive. I set up my tent and take a walk to the lake.
I am greeted friendly by the campground tenant, an 80-year-old man who speaks, as I understand, Italian German and Spanish.
In mid-October he flies to Cuba and spends the winter there until spring, when the campsite reopens. There are only 5 people on the campground, the boss, his Cuban companion, 2 more who live there and myself.

Laghetto di Astano

The inflow of the lake

Lagettho di Astano - Tenero

Day 3: Tuesday 11th September 2018
Km 83.17
Height about 800 m, (had to change the battery and forgot to write down the height)

either up or down

Village on the hillside

In the village center it is very quiet

I am looking forward to cycling the next 20 km through the Malcantone.
The path leads up to 600 meters of altitude through small villages that seem glued to the slope. It goes either up or down, flat seems to be a foreign word.
It is still early when I cycle via Bombinasco and Bongo to the largest village, Novaggio. I buy something for the coffee break at the bakery.
An elderly woman and man sharing news with each other, a little chat. In those small villages for sure they know each other.
I look at the winding streets and cycle down to the main street. A police officer overseeing the newly asphalted intersection makes a little conversation with me. I did not think that I could communicate so well with German and a few words of Italian. That is probably because he speaks German better than I Italian.

2 churches in such a small village

Church in Novaggio


A little chat has to be

I have a coffee break in Breno. In the middle of the village there is a good place with benches, houses made of natural stone and a lot of green. The streets in the villages are paved with cobblestones. Either you push the bike or cycle very slowly.
What amazes me is that I don't see people, it is still quiet!.
While I enjoy my coffee, I watch a whole swarm of swallows gather on telephone lines, fly away and sit down again. They will discuss how they want to master the long journey to Africa.

Stone houses and a lot of green.

In the village center, the streets are paved with round stones. Looks very nice but with my bike I push it best.

They all went to the side when a car came. Now they wait until I cycle past and then the whole family goes back to the middle.

If you need rest you go to the Malcantone.

Some older farmhouses are decaying.

Far away.

As stuck on a slope.

A whole village hidden in the forest.

In Arosio I leave Malcantone. At the exit of the village I read on a board that the pass is open. I did not expect that I would go down a pass road. When cycling down I see the many very short hairpin bends that go down to Gravesano about 400 meters. Now I can imagine that it is not possible to clear the roads snow-free in winter, the curves are very tight!.
Via Monte Ceneri I come to the Magadino plain. Now it's not far to CLM = Camping Lago Magiore. I am already there at about 3pm.
After setting up the tent, I cycle up to the Verzasca valley. I want to look at the old, well-known Roman Bridge. When I arrive there, the sun has already disappeared behind the mountains. Fortunately, there is a couple that I can take pictures when jumping into the cold water.
I do not have that much courage, first, too high, second, too cold.

In Arosio I cycle about 400 meters into the valley down.

In the afternoon I cycle up the Verzasca valley to the Roman bridge in Lavertezzo

The river Verzasca forms lakes from time to time. If they are deep enough you can jump into it.

Bridge from Roman times

And they jump already

into deep and cold water.

Roman bridge with Lavertezzo in the background

A little further into the valley.

The footpath to the end of the valley in Sonogno

Tenero - Faido

Day 4: Wednesday 12th September 2018
Km 60, 66
Height 696 m.

Bellinzona with one of its 3 castles. ^

Giornico, one of the many small villages in the Leventina. >

The highway goes through the mountain. The bike road with a few hairpin bends over the mountain and the train goes into the mountain, making inside the mountain 2 loops of 360 degrees to gain height..

Through the flat Magadino level I am soon in Bellinzona. Now I have more time to look a bit better at the city. It is a beautiful town with 3 castles and a nice old town centre.
It is still flat until Biasca and I am there at lunchtime.
After lunch I cycle up the left valley, the Leventino along the Ticino River.
From Gionico (coffee break), the slope increases, the sun is burning, but unfortunately the weather news is not so good. I hope to get up the Gotthardpass without rain.
At 4pm I pitch my tent at the camping Gottardo just before Faido (Chiggiogna).
I'm the first one to set up his tent and gradually, both camping with tent and campers start showing up.

Faido - Altdorf

Day 5: Thursday 13th September 2018
Km 84.30
Height 1510 m

In Airolo, charge and battery and have breakfast

then I can start the ascent.

Pay attention to catch the tremola.

At night, I heard rain drops pattering on my tent roof. What will I do tomorrow? Back to Bellinzona and take the train home?
The weather news has scared me, because when I get up I see the sun shine through the cloud cover.
From Faido to Airolo it is only 22 kilometers and nearly 500 meters in altitude.
When I arrive in Airolo at 9am, the battery is already pretty nibbled.
I walk to the tourist office at the station and ask if I could connect my battery to the power for a while. "No problem, there is a power outlet."
"I'll have breakfast and come back in 1 to 2 hours," I tell the waitress. "As long as you want," is the answer.
At 10.30 am the battery is not quite full but it should be enough to get to the Gotthard Pass.

Serpentine seen from below.

A quiet driveway with now and then a car

and now and then a cyclist

I leave Airolo with bright sun and a temperature of 26 °. The higher I climb, the lower the temperature drops. At the top of the pass, it is 17 °.
The ascent of the Tremola (the old road to the Gottardpass) is fantastic; the weather could not be better and as the temperature drops it is pleasant to cycle up.
I get off my Bike a few times to photograph this beautiful panorama.
Below, I see some cyclists coming behind me, but against a pedelec, the racers are powerless. I meet a cyclist at the top of the pass. He comes from Haarlem (nl) who is based in Andermatt and started this morning from there to Airolo and back again, a very great achievement!

Cobblestone pavement of the tremola, not ideal for racers with narrow tires.

Arrived at the top and the gentleman from Haarlem (nl) is comming too.

From the pass to Altdorf it is still about 50 kilometers and a downhill of more than 1600 meters.
For the downhill, I put on my windbreaker, because it will be cold down the descent, and the headwind is considerable. Now the recuperation is used.
When I arrive at the bottom at the valley, the almost empty battery is half full again.
Between Altdorf and Flüelen I pass a campground. I take this opportunity and set up my tent for the night.

Also the descent is fantastic

The sheep are collected and every farmer can take his own

Wassen with the devil stone

Andermatt, I cycle left down the Schöllenen Gorge. To the right side you get to the Oberalbpass. On the Oberalppass you can take a one-hour walk to Lake Tuma, the source of the Rhine.

Altdorf - Bremgarten

Day 6: Friday 14th September 2018
Km 75.95
Height 425 m

The night before it started to rain and it stopped when I woke up at 6am.
I got up immediately, because dismantling a tent in the rain and getting everything ready for traveling is not funny.
I still put on my cape, at 7am it is still cool and the clouds are hanging low.
The Axenstrasse (the road along the Urnersee) to Sisikon (Canton Uri) is fantastic to cycle. A wide bike path separated from the motorized traffic. Unfortunately, it stops in Sisikon and becomes life-threatening as from the canton of Schwyz. A sidewalk of about one meter width with a fence to the sea side and to the road unprotected. In a fall you are most likely to get on the oncoming traffic lane which is very busy with trucks, buses and passenger cars.
By oncoming cyclists both have to dismount and carefully pass each other.
Luckily I did not meet any cyclists around this time.
I continue via Brunnen, along the Lauerzersee to Goldau, where I have breakfast. I left this morning with only one banana!
The third lake I cycle along today is Lake Zug. In the canton capital Zug, I have a break with a cup of chocolate milk and enjoy some patisserie.
Now it is only 30 kilometers to go home, the sun is showing again and here I know my way around. The church bell strikes 12 as I stand at our front door.

The Axenstrasse along the Urnersee

A cattle hole of the Axenstrasse on the Urnersee

Along the Lauerzersee. Still no rain at 09:00. In the afternoon even the sun came out