Pfingsten weekend to Northern Italy – staying alive behind the wheel

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Another long weekend away, this time for Pfingsten and I was solo driving…in Italy. There are no words to actually describe what being on Italian roads is like, you have to experience it to believe. I had been forewarned on numerous occasions that Italy is full of insane drivers and the roads are lawless. Never had I appreciated it more until I was actually driving a car there. Crossing the streets in Rome or catching the bus to Venice never really phased me when I was younger, most likely because I wasn’t the one behind the wheel. This time I was facing oncoming traffic hurtling round corners on the wrong side of the road with sheer drops into Lago Como below, and cars trying to overtake me on either side of the motorway at 120kmph. Can’t wait to do it all over again in August. I honestly think I’d feel safer with the labrador pictured above driving.
We set off in fear from Zurich worrying about the queue for the Gotthard tunnel, but it was a breeze and we made it to Lago Como for sunset where we car camped by the road side for the first night with a beautiful view of the lake. Once we woke up and realised we had a few more kilometers of winding roads ahead of us we braved it on to Bellagio. The weather was unbelievably good, so a refreshing lake swim was really worth it. Eating pizza out of the box and drinking wine from a paper cup for some reason has been one of life’s little romantic pleasures. I don’t mean sitting in a playground eating a Domino’s and drinking value box wine. When you’re sat lakeside in Como the romance is the real deal.DSC_0843It was really difficult leaving Bellagio, we knew we wanted to see Milano but we were in such a peaceful setting it was hard to move on to a city. But it was well worth the sweaty drive. We parked up at a metro station on the outskirts of town and headed in to the centre. We climbed a top of the Duomo in the midday sun to view the Gothic turrets. It was totally hustified to climb staircases in the sun to see the stunning architecture. We then walked on to the old town to see the Castello district, where they were hosting a dog run. a late Sunday afternoon canine and their owners race. I was in heaven surrounded by excited dogs to play with. Next up was some Nutella gelato in the hipster district of Porto Genova where we watched some river wake boarding. Red Bull seriously know how to sponsor cool events, I envy their branding team’s jobs. Getting out of Milan was an utter ball ache, the sat nav made us do figures of 8 circuits on and off the motorway several times, before we arrived at a toll where we were forced to pay 2 Euros before getting off at the first exit only 200m later!
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We were relieved to cross the border on to safe Swiss roads again. Italian drivers don’t even slow down after passing motorbikes on fire on the roadside. It was easy to find a lakeside spot in Maroggia to sleep for the night, after a bottle of slightly fizzy red (eurgh) at a pool party. We took a classy homeless early morning swim in the empty lake to wash ourselves and sticky hair, before moving on the Bellinzona. If there is one place to host an outdoor event with a stunning panorama in Switzerland it should be inside the grassy courtyard of the Castelgrande. Then we got to cool off on the long drive home through the San Bernadino Pass by stopping roadside for lunch and rubbing snow into our hot skin. Some of the most beautiful Swiss sights so far all in one day.
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