One of the nice things about self-drive trips is the sheer random possibilities. Ryan and I were still deciding on our last night in Milan, where we should go next. As he poured over Google maps on his iPad, he exclaimed, "Hey, there is a little Italy inside Switzerland!"
I looked at where he pointed and it was a place called Campione d'Italia. Turns out that Campione d'Italia is a small Italian municipality under the Province of Como in the Lombardy region, within the Swiss canton of Ticino. By some twist of historical fate, Campione d'Italia chose to remain a part of Italy and the residents are Italian citizens even though it is separated from the rest of Italy by Lake Lugano and the mountains.
We thought Lake Lugano may not be a bad place to visit, so we drove our Hertz rental car towards the Swiss border, to Campione d'Italia to have a look-see. It is indeed a beautiful place but it looks like the main economic centre of the town is the casino.
Our drive across the Swiss border was fairly painless but it did cost €35 because you have to pay for a Swiss toll fee. We got a little taken by surprise by this fee and at first we were thinking, "Wah, Switzerland so expensive ah? Even their toll is €35 for one time ah?"
Then we found out that it is valid for a whole year. You stick the expensive sticker on your windscreen and it lets you drive around Switzerland's tolled highways for "free" after that. ORRRRRRH.
Switzerland IS expensive though. Our next stop after Campione d'Italia was Lugano (see the lovely flowers in the photo below). The city is by the lake by the same name and it is really pretty, except things there are twice the price of things in Italy. And you pay in Swiss francs (it's about 120 Francs to 100 Euros).
We cycled through the park by the lake and around the town area and really enjoyed it but we still had other places to go. So we loaded our bicycles into the spacious back of our Hertz car and drove towards Turin (or Torino, as the Italians call it).
We decided to spend the night at Turin. It is the home of the Torino and Juventus football clubs and it is a city rich with history and culture. The baroque, neo-classical, and Art Nouveau architecture here is awesome, and when you cycle through its generous city squares, you feel like you are riding through another time period.
We also visited the stadium where Torino was to face off with Juventus in a match, thinking we would be able to buy tickets on the spot. You watch Italian Serie A matches on tv and the stadiums are usually not full, so we thought it would be fine. We kind of picked a wrong time to go because the whole city of Turin seemed to be there for the match. I guess we should have known it would happen because a match like this means all the supporters of both Turin-based football clubs would show up to watch the match. All we could do was hear the cheers and atmosphere from outside the stadium as we walked back to our car, stepping on broken beer bottles and past large groups of riot police out in force.