Weekender – winter escape to Lake Maggiore

Weekender - Winter escape to Lake Maggiore

A weekend short trip south

When the fog hangs low in the valley for days and you only vaguely remember that bright thing in the sky, exactly the sun. Then it's time to change sides. And that means from the northern side of the Alps, which is often gloomy in winter, to the south. The closer winter gets, the sooner you're squatting in the dark. After all, it no longer makes a difference whether you arrive early or late. It looks the same.

The Ferris wheel at the Lago: spinning the wheel together at a distance...


Friday, 4 pm. I throw a few clothes into the backpack while Alex heaves the bikes onto the bike rack. After that, all we need are the helmets and a via ferrata set each. After a quick look in the fridge, an evening snack is also stowed away. We buy the rest on the way, or rather treat ourselves to a pizza. For us it's off to Italy. Not far from the Swiss border to Verbania on Lake Maggiore.

Corona with obstacles

Lake Maggiore usually offers enough campsites at any time of the year. The year 2020, however, was an exception to the rule, because as we know, everything was different. So all the campsites were closed and we had to find another way. You can find a cosy spot anywhere, and luckily you're pretty self-sufficient with a camper. We spent the first night on a small car park for hikers, the second night quite centrally in Intra on a large public car park near the river.

Evening walk in Intra

On the road

On Lake Lucerne it's drizzling into the grey at 6 °C. The damp cold creeps into your bones. It warms up quickly in the car and as soon as we are on the motorway, the holidays begin. Being on the road with a rather vague destination, which can change at any time according to your mood or because of other surprises, is part of the adventure. The Gotthard Pass is already winterised, but the Gotthard Tunnel lets us pass without traffic jams. As soon as the tube spits us out on the south side, the thermometer jumps to 15 °C. That's how it should be. That's how it should be.

Away from the hustle and bustle

The week is usually hectic. The alarm clock rings at 5 am. I quickly slip into my running clothes to finally do something for my endurance. There's no time for breakfast after the shower, so the banana will have to do. With a rumbling stomach, I sprint to work, the first session is a real challenge and there's no time to relax at lunch either. After work, there's a quick shopping trip, the laundry is long overdue and then the mother-in-law calls (figuratively speaking). When I come to sit at 9 pm, the dogs can usually fetch me.

New weather moves in from the south, but the head is crystal clear after a little scramble.

Getting off to a slow start

After we have made ourselves comfortable with a glass of wine in the evening, we deliberately don't set an alarm clock on Saturday. We have to sleep in once a week. Besides, it's still bitterly cold in the morning without sunshine, so you don't want to get on your bike yet anyway. Slowly, however, we get going and enjoy a cup of tea before we set off for a morning walk to an old Roman bridge.

The old Roman bridge with many waterfalls amazes us

Mozzarella, Pomodoro e Pane

After a quick shopping trip, we head for the promenade. So much for the winter escape. Parking is possible right by the water and with warm autumn temperatures, you can really enjoy a hearty breakfast. That's what I call deceleration. In the distance we see snow-covered peaks, while a pair of ducks enjoys a sun band on the meadow behind us. The washing up is done quickly and we head for the nearby hikers' car park.

Delayed breakfast at the lake. You can't treat yourself to anything else.

Mountain bike and gourmet delicacies

Our destination is Verbania's local mountain: Monte Rosso. For mountain bikers as well as for road cyclists, a comfortable road leads up the mountain. So we load our old donkeys from the bike rack and roll towards the mountain. We also meet hikers again and again who cross the serpentines via a steeper path. It is summery warm in the sun and shorts with tank tops are the order of the day. The trail leads through a beautiful, sparse deciduous forest, where one tree shines like the next. After about 550 metres in altitude, we reach our destination and treat ourselves to a well-deserved spritz and a snack at the Antica Osteria. The view is phenomenal, summer feeling spreads and a family arriving for lunch by helicopter provides good entertainment.

The reward for the ascent is not always just the trail into the valley 🙂

Climbing and hiking over traces of the Picassas

The next morning we change shore and take the via ferrata sets out of the cupboard. Ahead of us, the group sets off in the direction of Monte Camoscio, where the Via Ferrata dei Picassas awaits us. This is the name given to the historic stonecutters who cut the valuable stone here while quarrying marble with rudimentary means. The via ferrata itself offers fun action for young and old, as you have the choice between an easy B/C route or the racy D/E variation. And the latter is a real challenge. We choose the challenge and climb with a panoramic view of the lake that is worth every little bead of sweat. At the summit, we then meet hikers exploring the beautiful area on foot and make our way towards the valley.

A little cultural via ferrata after which the upper arms are heavy

Weekender - holiday time and that every weekend

Before we head home, we have a tasty piadine to keep our stomachs from rumbling. As short as a weekend may seem at first glance, after a Weekender you feel as refreshed as after a week's holiday. The flexibility and freedom of a camper also allows you to chase the sun, so that no adventure falls through and every winter escape is crowned with success.

Not far away and yet a completely different world.

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