Monday, September 26, 2011

FRIDAY 16th SEPTEMBER 2011 (Spluga Pass)

After the deflating experience of yesterday (finding metal in the sump) we decided to get into town early, hire a car, and head south to Italy regardless of the sad state of affairs our bike was in.

We weren't going to miss Moto Guzzi's 90th Anniversary party for anyone so away we went.

We crossed in to Austria for a short distance before crossing the border to Switzerland. We planned on driving the back roads, partly to avoid the auto-strada which you have to pay a considerable amount to drive on but we lost so much time driving through the villages we gave in and bought the road pass.

As it turned out the auto-strada ran alongside the 'free' road and we saw exactly the same scenes, the only thing is we made better time.

We drove down (I should say 'up') to the tiny village of Splugen, then found the beginning of the SPLUGA PASS, one of the mountain roads between Switzerland & Italy.

We knew we were heading in the right direction as we were passed by at least 300 Moto Guzzi's. It certainly helped to build the excitement.

It didn't, however, help stop the screaming match which lasted from almost the bottom of the pass to the top...!!! The road was VERY narrow and me being on the passenger side could only see a few millimeters between myself and the drop-off to eternity! Things did settle down as we neared the top and descended the other side.

We stopped at the top of the PASSO di SPLUGA to take in the magnificent vista - Switzerland on one side, Italy on the other.

There was a marked difference in landscape, houses and presentation on the other side. The buildings were much older and more derelict, less colour in the landscape and a much poorer economy than in Switzerland (as you'd expect).

We thought it was steep going 'up' the SPLUGA but it was much steeper and more difficult to negotiate going down the other side. Stunningly beautiful but in the car it took both of us to drive - one on the lookout for any cars driving up and the other negotiating the road to enable us to take the corner. We came close to having to do a three-point turn on a couple of corners but we managed to get around. Not sure how sometimes, but we did.

As we descended we came across the first lakes in the northern Italian Alps. They were glacial in colour and quite beautiful...not in a picture-perfect way, but in a landscape setting unlike any other we've ever seen.

We continued on, knowing we weren't too far from Mandello del Lario. The presence of Guzzi's on the road were increasing and didn't they sound good going through the tunnels. We drove with our windows down!

We arrived at MANDELLO del LARIO around 5.30pm. We did wonder how far away from the 'party' we would have to park the car but as luck would have it we got a permanent and safe car park one block from the action.

It was hard to focus on the job of finding a camping spot. There were

T-H-O-U-S-A-N-D-S of Guzzi's and people in every direction and with every step we saw something new and interesting.

The whole lakeshore of Mandello was closed off for motorcyclists only. At the time we were beginning to think we wouldn't find a tent spot but we did. I stood guard on the plot while Paul walked back to the car to get the tent. If I hadn't, that spot would've gone ten times over. We soon got 'home' set up which freed us up to look around and get orientated to what's happening in Mandello.

We sat and ate and enjoyed watching bike after bike roll in. Where on earth are they going to set up camp? We thought there was no more room. Thousands rode in and they all found a spot. The nature strips were taken, front yards, church yards, in fact, anywhere there was a space was allowed to be used as a tent site for the weekend. The town was serious about its Guzzi Anniversary.

We did hear that soon after we drove through the Police closed the road in to Mandello to all but motorcyclists and local residents.


1 comment:

  1. It's a real pity you couldn't take the Zundapp to the Guzzi do, but I am super glad you got to meet Catwezle in Holland! Cheers! JD