The tour of the lakes should be the title of this day; three lakes visited including a brief section in Switzerland. With breakfast out of the way we gathered our stuff, checked out, retrieved the bikes, and rolled down to the ferry dock. After I purchased tickets we got into line with all the cars to wait for the boat. We were among the first to board, which was good as the ferry was full and the small area under the stairs where they directed us to take the bikes was inaccessible after about half the cars were loaded on-board. The weather was nicer; no rain, but lots of moisture in the air so visibility was limited. It was a rather quick trip, 15 minutes or so, from Varenna to Menaggio. We rode off the ferry, turned right, and started climbing up to the town of Croce which sits at the top pass between the valley of Lago di Como and the valley of Lago di Lugano. There was a fair amount of traffic on the climb, including some large trucks, which made the ride a bit less pleasant.
Past Croce it was a nice, mostly flat ride past Lago di Piano and on to Porlezza at the northeastern tip of Lago di Lugano. We stopped in Porlezza across from the lake to have cappuccino, and then skirted a tunnel to get onto the road along the north shore of the lake. It was a fast and easy ride to the Swiss border, where we were waved on across. Interesting to note that there are a number of gas stations along the border on the Swiss side; I had not been watching gas prices on this trip but I knew right away that Swiss gas had to be cheaper than Italian gas. We made our way into the town of Lugano and down to the waterfront. There are large casinos in the area, which meant lots of traffic. We had thought of lunch in town, but we wanted to escape the traffic and did not want to change into another currency (Swiss Francs), so we worked on finding our way out of town and on towards Ponte Tresa. We did pass a chocolate factory on the way, but Sarah did not think it wise to pig out on candy and call it lunch.
We crossed back into Italy at Ponte Tresa and immediately found a restaurant for lunch. Sated and ready to continue we headed out on the west (Italian) side of the Tresa river. A few kilometers down the road we encountered a sign informing us that the road ahead was closed for construction. Darn! We turned back to Ponte Tresa, crossed back into Switzerland, and started following the Tresa on the Swiss side of the river. This worked out nice and it was quiet trip to Luino and Lago di Maggiore. We turned south, making our way through gridlock in Luino and finally relative peace as we followed the shore of the lake. Near Porto Valtravaglia Sarah asked to take a rest and suggested we stop at the first lodgings we encounter. As soon as we were back on the road she passed on the only hotel in town and we saw no other options between there and Laveno. The only hotel we found in Laveno was a bit seedy looking, so we purchased tickets for the ferry and crossed over to Verbania. Once the ferry docked we opted to walk in search of lodging rather than ride. Within a block we found the Hotel Intra and soon had accommodations for the night. The hotel had been recently remodeled, and the wing we are in is an even newer addition.
The hotel had an internet point in the lobby so we checked e-mail after cleaning up. It was then time to walk and search for dinner options. We ended up at a bar a couple of blocks down, as they advertised a 'fixed price' menu. They tried to talk us into 'a al carte', but we stayed with the fixed price option to maximize calories/€. The skies opened up and the rain poured as we ate, so as soon as supper was over we nixed the idea of a walk and darted back to the hotel for some rest.