After a night sleeping at 15°C I wake up early, very refreshed and looking forward to breakfast. Heading to the restaurant at 0730 I’m – again – the first person to show up.
The faux chalet style and the local products being offered make the experience a special one. I get to chat to the owner a bit whilst eating and discuss my plans for today: Cross Col d’Agnel into Italy and drive as far as I feel like towards Switzerland and the elusive Simplon pass I’ve never crossed before with TW560.
Well fed, I bid my farewell to the hotel owner and start my drive with a battery at a SOC that does not accept any charge at all as I’m above the inverter’s max voltage cutoff. Luckily and interestingly, I get to drive uphill for a few km before the real descent from col de vars towards Guillestre.
Another perfect day awaits – I am really looking forward to the next climb coming up: Col de Agnel.
But in the meanwhile I’ll have to do with these views… hard times indeed!
Having arrived at Guillestre, I’m ready for a rather long drive along two valleys that lead up to the pass. I really like the way most of the tunnels are essentially hewn or blasted out of solid rocks. Real engineering feats.
Temperatures are still very acceptable and on the cool side – I’m expecting this to be completely different this afternoon in Italy, when I’ll be driving across northern Italy’s Pianura.
Further up things turn out to be TWIKEing Nirvana. I seem to be alone on this road towards the pass. Perfect weather and views make me want to stop ever so often and just take in the scenery.
The following photos were all taken without any filters or additional sharpening.
Eventually, I get to the top of the pass at 2477m ASL. There are just a few people here, enjoying the view of the surrounding alps …and the steep descent on the Italian side of the pass.
The usual exclamations by Italians how much they like the TWIKE were expected … and happened.
Finally, I get a picture
Within just a few minutes, the formerly empty parking lot at the top filled up and swarms of people approached me and the TWIKE and wanted to ask me the usual questions.
…Time to leave!
The descent is 1500m on 10km – this is going to be very, very satisfying! Although the battery has had to bring me up to here and had already around 5kWh DOD, it will be quite a feat to get all the energy back into the battery due to the rather low max voltage cutoff of my inverter.
This means essentially to go slow and never use the brakes.
The clarity of the air is astonishing – today’s weather allows for essentially unlimited visibility!
I’m really looking forward to this descent, and, unsurprisingly to …
The very first Italian bar serving my poison: the elusive perfect ‘caffè’ – not bitter, creamy, silky afterfeel and long taste persistence on the palate and sides of the tongue. My (not guilty) pleasure for €0.70!
The rest of the valley was actually at a perfect angle, allowing for rolling most of the time.
As I mentioned many, many times before, I don’t appreciate the Pianura too much, as it’s just flat and doesn’t really tickle my brain too much, whilst not giving too many clues to the distance I’m covering.
Today, however, I’ve planned to go down memory lane and am looking forward to see a place again that I haven’t been for a very, very long time. More on that in a moment.
Driving along, somewhat enjoying the big skies above the Pianura, I’m impressed about the sheer amount of satellites my phone is currently receiving signals from – in this case, thanks to zero obstructions in any direction it was 37! Wow…and just a thought.
As expected, temperatures start to soar and my phone quickly lets me know that it’s hot, too. Unlike the recent episode in Spain, this time it’s Google Maps letting me know that it will switch to dark mode to cool down the device.
This is special in a few ways, as I was under the impression that it was the OS’s responsibility to manage temperatures and measures against overheating. I would expect the OS to push ‘dark mode’ to the apps and that the apps would not be getting situational info why dark mode is activated. I learn something every day.
After this excursion … Back to memory lane.
19 years ago, I worked and lived in Turin for a little more than a half a year – working at Fiat as a consultant. Lots of fun and good memories were made here.
When I was planning today’s stage I thought it would be fun to visit the part of town I lived in and see how the city had changed. (spoiler alert – lots and not too much)
My long-term hotel stay at Hotel Ferrucci was really nice – a family-run place that did everything to make me feel at home away from home.
Unfortunately, the owners have changed in the meanwhile and the iconic breakfast bar with the most perfect Caffè has been mothballed.
The square is much greener than before and there are generally much less cars in town.
Other parts of the city are unrecognizable – the Turin Olympics did their part to change the face of the town and create fully new neighborhoods that weren’t there when I was there.
Back on the road, I’ve now got a better feel how much range I’ve still got in the battery and decide to stay overnight in a place I’ve been wanting to go for a while: One of Switzerland’s most remote villages, a geographic anomaly … and known to everyone in Switzerland after around 1/3 of the village was destroyed by a mud slide in 2000.
I’m pretty confident to be able to drive there, even if it means to climb around 750m from the Pianura. My estimate is to get there with around 500Wh (3.1%) left in the battery. Fingers crossed.
Also, I want to eat a proper Italian Pizza somewhere along the road before crossing back into Switzerland.
With the evening sun, shadows get longer and the light is nice and warm whilst temperatures return to bearable levels.
The pre-alpine hills are a very nice view indeed. Add lago d’Orta to this and you get – yet again – a perfect mix for TWIKEing. Did I mention I was seriously enjoying today’s drive?
The picturesque town of Omegna was where I decided it was time for my Pizza and some drinks before tackling the climb back into the alps and Gondo.
This is one seriously cute town. Nestled around the end of the lake it has a vehicle-free old part with loads of restaurants and bars and seemingly endless outside seating. Most of it being already taken, I snatch a table when it freed up and decided to stay there for a while, enjoying some me time.
I felt like a drink and this is what I got! My other poison: Gin & Tonic.
My pizza was very tasty – life is good. This is all I can say. Simple pleasures make all the difference when they are consumed consciously and savoured in the context of the overall situation.
I’m back on the road for the last 60km just before the sun sets behind the alps – dramatic views and me pretty proud of my consumption today – my charge situation is going to be much less dramatic than I expected it to be.
I start climbing slowly towards the Simplon – another pass TW560 hasn’t been yet. Gondo is on the other side of the Simplon pass, far in geographically Italian territory but – somehow – is still Switzerland.
After another hour I make it to the Italian border…
And to the Swiss border. Gondo is just a few hundred metres behind the border…as is my hotel.
The hotel happily provides me with a plug for the 14.5kWh I’ll be needing to get back home the next day.
A first drink is in order – the hotel itself was spared in 2000 … just. The building in front of it was pushed over and acted as a barrier. In the photo below, both buildings on the left were destroyed and had to be rebuilt.
The hills around the village are impressive. Vertical drops from hundreds of metres above. Super impressive.
The restaurant/hotel combo was like a throwback to the 70’s – shared bathroom and toilets and super-simple rooms. All squeaky-clean and comfortable. Managed by two young guys this place exudes charm and the love going into the place can be seen and felt everywhere.
I’m tired and am looking forward to my last night away on vacation before returning home tomorrow.