Via Sighignola, Valle d’Intelvi and Balcone d’Italia to Lugano… Lake Lugano in Switzerland can be considered the little brother of Lake Como. With an area of 48 km² compared to 146 km², Lake Lugano cannot compete. The border between Italy and Switzerland runs straight through Lake Lugano. So Lake Lugano is not purely Swiss! Never thought about it… Probably because the motorway that takes you to Italy (Chiasso) runs over and along the Swiss part of the lake.
The mountain lakes of Lugano and Como are a stone’s throw away from each other and that gave us the idea of taking a day trip to Lugano. Let’s see if it is also cloudy and rainy on the other side.
There are three ways to drive from Lake Como to Lake Lugano. One, the fast route via Como and the highway towards Chiasso. Two, the short route via Menaggio towards Porlezza. And for enthusiasts number three, the beautiful route via Argegno, the Intelvi valley and the Balcone d’Italia.
Since we are staying in an apartment in Argegno, the choice was quickly made for us. From Argegno we drive for about twenty minutes into the Intelvi valley and after 9 kilometers we arrive in San Fedele Intelvi. From there we drive on to Lanzo d’Intelvi. It is highly recommended to take a detour to the Balcone d’Italia! Follow the signs carefully!
The Balcone d’Italia is located just below the top of the Sighignola mountain. You can more or less count this mountain as part of the Swiss Alps. Ciao Lombardia, Guten Tag Schweiz!
The view is fantastic, even with a threatening cloud cover. You have a beautiful view of Lake Lugano and the city of Lugano. You can see Lake Maggiore and the beautiful contours of the Swiss Alps. A Swiss flag is blowing in the wind and below you can see the cars speeding along the highway. But there is absolute peace and quiet up here… Then we forget the cheeky Dutchman who finds it necessary to list all the ridges by name for the entire terrace. We pay more attention to the purple socks in his sandals than his geography lesson.
You can also see the remains of an old cable car here. In 1969 it was decided to build a cable car with gondola to the top of Sighignola. The works were started but never completed. In 2009, the Swiss and Italian authorities decided to demolish the cable car again. A rusting pillar and an old drive motor, that’s all there is left.
We start the descent to Lake Lugano. This side is clearly steeper and spicier. Numerous hairpin bends follow each other in rapid succession. It looks like a race track for miniature cars. We pass an abandoned border control. Fortunately, we have a Swiss road vignette for our matchbox.
There are a surprising number of cyclists here who are not averse to a steep climb. Finally we reach Lake Lugano via Arogno and Maroggia. We briefly visit the city of Lugano. In the meantime it is pouring. We don’t feel like exploring the city anymore and jump back in the car. We take the short route via Menaggio and drive back to Lake Como.