Italy in my Sights

SwissBorder - Italy in my Sights

I had a great sleep in the hammock after my big lunch, I got my gadgets together and headed for the games room. There’s always plug sockets in a games room, so I can charge everything up and plan the next step. I walked into the log cabin and sat on the floor between the pacman and the pinball machine. It wasn’t the best place to sit but I was next to an electrical extension reel. I ended up sat in the games for 2 hours, mainly because it was raining. When the rain eased off I walked the ten steps to the restaurant, I wished I could have cooked my own food but I don’t have any gas. Buying food in a restaurant by debit card is bad as I tend to spend more, although I will be leaving Switzerland without Swiss francs. (Or so I thought). I had a pizza and a beer sat on one of the tall tables near the plug socket at the back of the restaurant.

I had a really strange night and have to admit I was a little scared at times. I couldn’t sleep straight away, no doubt due to the afternoon nap. It was about 1:00 am when the horrible noise started, it was an awful screeching sound, like a cat you’ve just stood on but a higher pitch. I heard rustling that sounded like a plastic bag being put over my head, that turned out to be the noise a cornfield makes when a kestrel attacks it’s pretty. It went on for quite a while and was scary, it also happened twice throughout the night. I made a mental note to wear earplugs the next time I sleep next to a cornfield. I got out of my hammock at 08:00 am, packed up and was ready to go by 09:00. Louisa who ran the restaurant had suggested I have breakfast with her but when I got to the restaurant it was closed, even though there was a sign on the door that said it should have been open from 08:00.

I cycled out of the campsite and through the cornfields past farmland on a very smooth bike path, Switzerland route number 31. The map I had from the Swiss tourist board didn’t mention a route 31 but there was a route 3 and a route 1 which looked on the map like they converged with each other. So here’s me enjoying amazing views of Switzerland thinking I would be on Italy in an hour or so only to discover I am cycling on the wrong side of lake Maggiore, seems familiar, not lake Maggiore but the fact I’m on the wrong side of a lake. Although the detour around lake Maggiore were some of the best views of the trip, so far. The journey back along the lake too was spectacular.

It was 10:40 am and I hadn’t eaten and had no money so had to go to a cash machine, luckily there was one right next to me. I thought 10 Swiss francs should do the trick but of course Switzerland had other plans, minimum 50 franc withdrawal, this county has a way of making you spend money. I came across a small roadside bar situated in an industrial area, right next to a caterpillar plant. I had a croissant and two cups of coffee. I’ve also come to the end of my first journal, time to buy a new journal.

I lost over half a day at lake Maggiore and my unintentional tour of Cadenazzo, from one side of the town where I camped in a cornfield for 2 nights to the other which should lead me to the Italian border. I had finally got back on route 3 the excellent north to south Swiss cycle route not that I’ve spent much time on it. I cycled round the edge of another lake, this time heading in the right direction whilst looking for a nice spot to sleep. I was cycling parallel to an autostrada and when it turned over the road I was on, I stopped, it could have been a good place to sleep but it would have been very noisy, it also had started to rain, not hard but just enough to annoy me because it’s on my glasses. I sheltered under the canopy of a citreon garage for a few moments before coming across a vineyard, I could see the town spread out below me from the hill I was on and I knew if I got to the town at night I wouldn’t find a comfy place to sleep. I still went though didn’t I, walking around the town for hours. I even continued on route 3 but it was too dark, I looked in a few car parks and ended up by a railway siding, called Ponte Franco. I sat and watched the trains shunting some big stuff around, good to watch but noisy and sparks everywhere. I was next to a big customs warehouse and could shelter under the canopy where the workers smoke  but a couple of cars had driven past and a moped.

I cycled on for another hour or so and came across a lit road with a sign for Como, that’s in Italy, so I headed that way. It was downhill and headed straight for the border. I came across 3 petrol stations on the road next to the border and decided to sleep in Switzerland rather than go over the border in the dark. I sat outside a small building which turned out to be a pumping station, it had a nice piece of grass behind it and a low metal fence around it, a great place to sleep. The fence was stopping people from falling in the river which separates Switzerland from Italy. I attached my hammock to the fence, it was really low to the ground but comfy. I didn’t cover myself with a tarp but it didn’t rain. I was a bit chilly and had to get in my sleeping bag with my trainers on. I could have easily set my tent up but the hammock is comfy and quick to pack up. I could see the only way anyone could find me so felt safe, behind me was a grass patch and another fence. So if anyone did see me they couldn’t walk towards me. I could see a closed petrol station and a block of flats as long as I didn’t shine a torch I was confident I wouldn’t be seen.

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About John Holt

John Holt has worked in the travel industry for over 14 years and comes highly recommended by Trip Advisor for his practical and candid talks on travel destinations. Spending 18 months as a "Local Interest Specialist" for a leading tour operator John has become known as having more practical information than Google.

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