Having moved to Italy at the beginning of 2015, one thing was for sure: I’d have to relearn how to ride a bicycle. Whoever came up with the saying “It’ll come back to you, it’s just like riding a bike!”, needs a slap. If you haven’t been on a bike in more than 10 years, it takes some getting used to. Believe me. Okay sure, maybe not everyone will fall and injure themselves the first time they try it again (whilst going uphill at the speed of a snail), like me.
So after a few months of recovering from my knee injury I was super stoked to finally do one of the things that was on my bucket list whilst living in Varese: cycling around Lake Varese. Situated in the famous Lake District of Italy, it’s probably nothing spectacular compared to all the jaw-dropping lakes like Lake Maggiore or Lake Como. In fact, I’d say it’s ‘cute’ compared to them, but it’s a lovely scenic outing for a local on a budget.
Getting there is easy. Simply hop on the bus from downtown Varese towards the lake (Line N: towards Calcinate Del Pesce) and get off at the last stop, near Lido di Varese. From there you can make your way down a dirt road to a small cabin where there are tons of bicycles for rent.
Since ours was a last-minute decision on this particular day, we had no choice but to finish the trip under 2 hours – otherwise we’d miss the last evening bus back to Varese. We’d either have to call someone to come fetch us or we’d have to hitchhike back. I was definitely not going to do the latter after cycling 28kms (the most ever for me!).
In general, the route is quite flat with only a small, not-too-intimidating hill here and there. But even though it’s flat, for someone who is extremely unfit and needs to do that distance under 2 hours like us, good luck. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
The start from Lido di Varese to the left leads through some lush, green fields towards the cycle track which, for the first part is covered by a large tree canopy. On a hot summer’s day, you’ll be all too thankful for the shade.
As you go along, the road curves and bends as you pass along the outskirts of old little villages that sit around the lake.
Approaching Gavirate, you’re already past the halfway mark. A good idea is to stop here for a drink and a quick stroll through the market near the water (seasonal). This side of the lake is usually pumping in summer. Locals camp out under the trees while others lazily enjoy the sunshine. Kids run around while their parents chat away over lunch or a glass of wine.
Savouring the lovely, relaxing day while being sad to be in such a hurry and determined not to miss our bus, we hopped onto our bikes again.
The rest of the route involved some more pretty scenery and eventually, tired legs and an unfortunate sore knee (remember my incident?!)
P.S. You’ll be glad to know that after that embarrassing bike incident on the side of the main road *face palm* I am now pretty okay and confident on two wheels.