Its your move, Signore!!!

A chess match draws a small crowd at a lackside park in Lugano

Italy is the only country in Europe which can lay claim to part of all the major alpine regions, for that great European mounatin range curls around the north of the country from Ventimiglia to within hailing distance of Venice. Further, Italy's alps are bathed in sunshine and dry summer breezes, boasting flowers and cactic in profusion and relief from the sultry weather in the rest of the peninsula. Of particular beauty is the Lake region, where Lugano, Como, Maggiore, da Garda, etc, form from the glaciers that drain from St. Moritz, the Brenner and the Valais. The regions can get super crowded with tourist traffic in the summer, and for this reason I was a bit reluctant to cycle in the area; but I am glad I made the effort. Lugano, which wraps around its lake of the same name with parks, squares and fine buildings, is best seen on foot. Here two gentlemen play a game of chess in one the cities fine parks, the cool blue waters of Lake Lugano in the background.

In general though, I do not recommend the Italian Alps to the cyclist. The roads are the poorest, and the punctuality and cleanliness which typify service in the region seems lacking in Italy. This part of Italy isn't sure it wants to be Italian, anyway: German is widely spoken, the Mark commonly used instead of the monopoly-style Lira, German surnames dominate. Though overshadowed by other concerns such as Bosnia and status of former Iron Curtain countries, Europe will, too soon, see another regional hot potato on its hands, as Northern Italy wishes to confederate (Padania, is the name I last saw) and portions near the Austrian border wish to return to that country, of which they were a part before WWI.