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Cycling along the current with the “Laghi & Monti Bike” cycle route: more than 80 kilometres from the springs on the Italian-Swiss border to the shores of Lake Verbano
Have you ever wondered how long it takes a drop of water melting from the snows of the Formazza valley to reach Lake Maggiore through the Ossola valley? And will its twin, which melts a few tens of metres away in the Bedretto valley, passing through the Ticino, reach the lake first?
If you are not a good mathematician, leave it alone, otherwise you will get lost in complicated calculations, full of variables. If you like cycling in the midst of nature, the Laghi & Monti Bike route will take you along the same route as our two drops, through unforgettable landscapes and experiences. We recommend that you do this in stages, because there are more than 80 kilometres from the springs on the border between Italy and Switzerland to the shores Lake Verbano.
The route will be made possible thanks to a cross-border connection financed by the European programme Interreg Italy-Switzerland, which is dedicated, in particular, to mountain bikers and is currently being implemented.
One of the fascinating aspects of the Laghi &Monti Bike is being able to follow the course of the two main tributaries of Lake Maggiore on a bike: Toce (in Italy) and Ticino (in Switzerland).
When you find yourself at over 2,300 metres on the San Giacomo pass, the choice is yours. To the north, the Swiss Val Bedretto awaits you and then, if you don’t want to go up to the Gotthard, the descent through the Valle Leventina will take you to Bellinzona, the Piano di Magadino, Locarno and Verbano. If, on the other hand, you turn your wheels to the south, there are Formazza, Antigorio, Ossola, Lake Mergozzo, the Fondotoce reed beds and the priceless view of the Borromean Gulf.
If you have the spirit of a salmon and the legs of Merckx (or an e-MTB) you can instead ride upstream from the lake to the San Giacomo pass and downstream on the other side. In both cases, however, it is better to plan a few stops to enjoy the unique territory and be inspired by the flow of the water.
1) If you start from Verbania, on the lakeside, the cycle path crosses the Fondotoce Special Nature Reserve. Here, in the midst of one of the largest reedbeds in the Verbano area, numerous bird species nest. A paradise for birdwatchers, with the Borromean Gulf as a backdrop on one side and the mountains of the Val Grande National Park on the other. In the background, the perennial snows of the Pennine Mountains reaching 4,000 metres.
2) From the placid waters of the reed thicket we climb to the impetuous waters that, in the Antigorio valley have carved the Uriezzo gorges over the millennia. These canyons project the visitor into a primordial environment: smooth rocks in winding paths, pools of clear water, alternating with rapids and waterfalls. A place providing unique emotion, reachable from Verampio di Crodo, Baceno or Premia.
3) Her Majesty the Toce Waterfall. In the Formazza Valley, its 143-metre drop caused the amazement of writers, artists and nobles in the 19th and 20th centuries, earning it the title of “the most beautiful and powerful waterfall in the Alps”. In the summer months, when the influx of water is at its highest, its 60-metre front creates a sublime wall of water. Reaching its 1,675-metre altitude, looking out from the overhanging viewpoint, in a cloud of steam amidst the roar and swirl of the waters, is one of the things to do at least once in your life in the Lake District.
Back to the original question: how fast does a drop of water travel in a river? Even without being a champion, starting with your MTB from the Toce waterfall, you should arrive at Lake Maggiore before our drop. With the river in full flood, however, it would be a challenge only for very experienced bikers. In that case, we would advise others to visit a museum on water. We also have that in the Lakes Tourism District.
© Stefano Sacchelli
© Alessandro Pirocchi
© Unione Montana Alta Ossola