Published on: 21 March 2013 | Last updated: 29 March 2017
The FIAB Laghi di Lombardia route ends at Sesto Calende on the border with Piemonte. This is a suggested route for anyone who wants to continue to the Lago di Mergozzo and the Lago d’Orta in neighbouring Piemonte.
The first part of the route heads towards Laveno. It’s a relatively quiet country road, which offers the possibility of a short detour to the iconic Eremo di Santa Caterina del Sasso perched on the cliff face over the lakeside.
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|Sesto Calende - Laveno (ferry to Intra)||36 kms|
|Intra - Mergozzo||8 kms|
|Mergozzo - Orta San Giulio||22 kms|
At Laveno there’s a car ferry to Verbania. There’s plenty of space for bikes and the cost is 5 euros.
If you are heading eastwards simply follow the lakeside road (if you’re going eastwards you’ll need to follow my suggested route). From here there’s a brief stretch along the busier SS34 before turning off onto the Via Filippo Turati and the Lago di Mergozzo.
Just after the junction there’s the Casa della Resistenza and memorial park.
More about the park
There are several memorials in the park:
- a huge memorial wall lists the names of the more than 1250 people who died during the battle for the liberation of the surrounding area. At the foot of the cross is an urn with the ashes from the ovens of the crematorium at Mauthausen concentration camp where many captured members of the Italian resistance died;
- on the western end of the wall there's a plaque with the names of 54 jewish people killed around the lake in September and October 1943;
- 42 cypress trees in memory of the 42 partisans who were shot and died here (another miraculously survived);
- a memorial to the members of the Italian armed forces who, died in internment camps in German after refusing to fight for the Nazis;
- a bronze sculpture is a memorial to the Georgians who died fighting as part of the Italian resistance forces;
- the bronze hand is a memorial to the contribution of women to the resistance.
A little further down the road there’s a pink granite stone marking the border of the Repubblica Partigiana d’Ossola - when for a few brief weeks in September 1944 the area became a free republic.
Mergozzo and the Lago di Mergozzo are lovely, but if you need to press on and turn right after the town. The road rejoins the strada statale Via 42 Martiri, avoiding a stretch of out of town shops. From here there’s a brief stretch of fairly dull road to the town of Omegna at the head of the Lago d’Orta. From here it’s a short ride along the lakeside road to Orta. The Lake is on the tourist map but in a low-key way.
While you’re in Orta take the boat to the Monastero di San Giulio and don’t miss the Sacromonte d’Orta one of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Sacromonti di Lombardia e Piemonte.
At Verbania you could head south to Baveno and Stresa. The road is fairly busy, but there is a ciclabile. For me there were rather too many grand hotels. On the other hand you could go north to Cannobio which for my money is quite possibly the nicest place on the lake.
There are some lovely roads and beautiful villages in the hills between the Lago d’Orta and the Lago Maggiore. If you are up for it there’s also the climb to Mottarone (1491m).
If you have the time, you might want to consider the Tour of the western lakes route which follows the lakes back via the Lago Maggiore, Lago Lugano to the Lago di Como.
Places to stay
Hotels and B&Bs
Find and book places to stay with Booking.com
Booking.com pages for places on this section of the route:
About these links
If you use these links to book accommodation Booking.com will pay me a small part of their commission. This helps support the costs of producing this site.
I use Booking.com to find and book places to stay when there are no campsites in the area. The large majority of hotels and many hostels are now on ‘Booking’. I like it because it means that I can get almost-instant confirmation. The rating system is also a reliable guide to the quality of the accommodation.
I’ve never had a problem finding places to keep my bike —even if it’s a cupboard or store room. I always use the ‘special requests’ field on the booking form to tell the hotel that I’m travelling with a bike, which gives them the opportunity to let me know if there’s a problem.
Many properties offer free cancellation but it’s a good idea to check the conditions as these vary from property to property.
There are loads of campsites in this area including the Camping Lago delle Fate on the Lago di Mergozzo and the Camping Orta on the Lago d'Orta. There’s also a hostel in Verbania (the Ostello Verbania).
Transport and services
There are stations at Stresa, as well as Baveno and Verbania. From Stresa you can get trains to Milano as well as northwards via Domodossola and the Sempione tunnel, to Basel and other international destinations.
There’s an extensive network of vaporetto and ferry services - both within the Italian part of the lake and with the Swiss part. The car ferry service between Laveno and Verbania have plenty of space for bikes, but the smaller boats have more limited deck space.
You can download timetables for the boat and ferry services from the downloads area of the Navigazione Laghi website