After the long days of mile munching and yesterday’s exertions on the high passes, I needed a bit of a breather today!
Unusually for one of my trips I decided to spend two nights in one place and I’m glad that I did because it took off the pressure to move on, this is supposed to be a holiday after all. . . OK and a multi-post blog reportage!
Over a leisurely Italian breakfast I pondered how to use my day. Looking at the map, I could see a nice circular ride; Bormio – Livigno – Bernina Pass(Switzerland) – Tirano – Bormio. About 90 miles, four passes and enough bends to keep things interesting without making it hard work! Oh yes and all day to do it, so loads or time to stop for photos and other things. Let’s go!
With light traffic and no particular rush to get anywhere, we paused at Passo di Foscagno. It’s not often that a view takes my breath away, but this was one, as the Italians say, “bellissimo!”I particularly like the duck house in the middle of the lake!
Passing through the customs post and into Livigno I was struck how the air suddenly took on a distinct aroma of honey, rounding the next bend I could see that the pasture was full of bright yellow dandelion flowers and obviously the source of the smell. It was just like taking the lid off afresh jar of honey, heavenly sweet and quite bewitching!
We skirted the main town of Livigno and started to climb up to the pass of Forcola di Livigno and the Swiss border. Strangely there was no sign of the customs rigmarole that we had seen yesterday at the internal customs post, we were just ignored!
With time to spare we pulled over for photos a lot!
Once we hit the main road we hung a right and headed up the Passo del Bernina. At 2328metres this is no baby, but with a major road across it, not to bad to ride at all! Well actually it’s better than that, with new tunnels re-routing most of the heavy North-South traffic the pass is now pretty quiet, but with a stonking great well-engineered black-top to enjoy it’s a shame not to take advantage!
The wide sweeping hairpins of Bernina were a treat to ride on Baby, her long-wheelbase not being challenged like on tighter bends. I really enjoyed flinging her around and nearly went back to do it again!
We then trundled in a leisurely manner down the Poschiavo Valley towards Italy.
Somewhere down the road I had a bit of an epiphany, I realised that I really liked this part of Switzerland; it’s so Italian and not just the language! Here everything isn’t neatly manicured like a pastiche of the novel “Heidi,” here people work manually and are proud to do so; the cars are not all brand new Mercedes-Benz, more likely beaten up used Fiats. There’s an inherent honesty about the place and the people; they don’t talk to you with their hand out waiting to grab your cash. They are less Swiss, more Poschiavois, the valley is more important to them than the “suits” of Zürich and Geneva, long may it remain so!
Soon we passed back into Italy and ran into the picturesque town of Tirano, famous for being the southern terminus of the metre gauge Bernina Railway and the famous Bernina Express. Yes, you’ve guessed, I had to drop into the station.
We were just in time to see the 14:03 Bernina Express loading with countless German tourists. Time to grab a couple of photos and get moving again, the temperature was 30 degrees Celsius in the shade!
In the adjacent Italian State Railways station I found this rather tatty old steam locomotive looking very sorry for itself.
All that remained then was a 25 mile cruise back to Bormio to complete our circle half of which seemed to be tunnels which I would normally hate, but these were well-lit, good surface and best of all. . .cool!
“As the images unwind,
Like the circles that you find in the windmills of your mind.”
Catch you soon.