Unfortunately both days were characterized by weather that definitely wasn't on our side, except for a fantastic finish at Mottarone!
Saturday began on the shores of Lake Orta. The meeting was at the Bocciolo Restaurant, a stupendous structure that offers a fantastic view of the lake, unfortunately little valued today by very rainy weather.
Here there was an excellent lunch for the few participants before leaving for the afternoon tour.
The afternoon itinerary is not very long but, after the road we have already traveled on other occasions between Orta and Stresa, it will lead the participants to discover an unprecedented road.
In fact, from Stresa the group travels a stretch of transfer up to Villadossola and then takes the Antrona Valley. The road is rather narrow in the first part, but going up along the valley it becomes smoother with a beautiful view of the mountains until you reach Antronapiana.
The valley has no outlets, which is why we have never planned an itinerary for a traditional tour on these roads, in fact after a stop at the small village bar we backtrack and return to the valley.
Again transfer to Omegna to then head to our beloved and well-known Colma di Civiasco, still continuously under a rain that has no intention of giving up.
Descending on the Valsesia side of the Colma we reach Varallo Sesia for an aperitif at the Bar Roma, in the heart of this beautiful historic center, parking the cars right in front of the chosen venue, with the consent of the Town Hall.
To conclude the day we move on to dinner at the Ristobar Al Maneggio in Bielmonte, a very suggestive location that we had already chosen for last November's event. Of course, to reach Bielmonte we set off again to drive along the beautiful Zegna Overview.
This 2023 edition sees the meeting place for the participants at the Ristorante dei Pescatori in Viverone (BI). In the large car park overlooking the lake there are over 60 cars present today under a gray sky which, however, at least at the time of the meeting, sees only a few sporadic drops.
As always, and today even more so, the variety of cars is huge. As always, we range from small hot-hatch cars, such as the Abarth 500, Focus RS, to supercars such as 2 beautiful C6 Corvettes and a fantastic Ferrari F12. In between, many cars of all kinds: Mx5, Delta, Porsche, Alpine, an extreme Caterham and many others!
The program includes a completely new itinerary compared to the editions of previous years. Especially the first part is new, in fact we had never been on the shores of Lake Viverone. Itinerary that however we had to partially modify as the night before a landslide blocked a section that we had planned.
At 11.00 the caravan leaves, as always a little staggered to allow everyone to have fun without being in line with too many cars.
We leave the shores of Lago di Viverone to take the SP228 in the direction of Ivrea. It is essentially a long transfer straight that runs parallel to the Serra di Ivrea up to Bollengo. Here we turn onto the SP338 towards Biella.
For the locals this is a very famous road for those who want to drive, it is in fact often busy with motorcycles and bicycles, as well as the normal vehicular traffic between Biella and Ivrea. But not today, certainly thanks to the weather, nobody is there!
Leaving the town, a not too steep climb begins, characterized by straight stretches and fast curves interspersed with sharp hairpin bends. Once at the top, the guided stretch begins with some ups and downs up to the town of Zubiena, from which you then descend towards Mongrando.
The road is in excellent condition, thanks to the resurfacing of the entire section a few years ago, the surface is damp but clean and still offers a decent grip.
The roadway is not wide. In many points the center line is missing, but it still guarantees, with due attention, to easily cross cars coming in the opposite direction.
From Mongrando begins a transfer section that leads us to cross the city of Biella and then take the Valle Cervo.
Here the original route should have taken us up to the SP115 to go up to Bielmonte from the west side of the Panoramica Zegna. Unfortunately, as mentioned, a landslide prevents us from this ascent and so at Andorno Micca we turn to go along a series of roads and narrow streets that have been the scene of the various editions of the Rally della Lana in the Strona Valley; a change to the route that is anything but unpleasant! Callabiana, Camandona, Veglio and Mosso Santa Maria until you reach the SP232.
In this section we find the road a little dirty due to the heavy rains of the previous day, rain which has now returned to fall. Even here, however, we find a road surface in excellent condition along the entire route.
Even placed on the SP232 the conditions of the surface are excellent and we launch ourselves into the ascent to Bielmonte from the east side of the Panoramica Zegna.
Leaving Valdilana we find a deserted road again until we arrive in Bielmonte where we make the first stop of this Tour for a first snack at the Overview Bar.
Unfortunately, the intentions of serving the buffet outside with the beautiful view of the Bielmonte panorama had to be postponed to a future edition to opt for an indoor service.
Ludovica, Marco and the other members of the Bar della Panoramica staff offered a great choice of appetizers to fill the hunger of the participants without weighing us down too much, given that there are still many kilometers to go.
The musical accompaniment with saxophonist Susanna Boggia who played live was also much appreciated.
The second stage takes us down from Bielmonte, from the same slope from which we arrived, to reach Varallo Sesia: from Valdilana we take the SP113, a very winding road but once again in excellent asphalt conditions up to Coggiola. From here begins a fast stretch up to Borgosesia where we enter the SP299, the main road of the Valsesia that takes us, in transfer, up to Varallo.
As in past years, the Municipality has reserved Via Roma for us to be able to park all the participants' cars in an area closed to traffic in the beautiful historic centre.
A beautiful display of cars right in front of the Caffè Roma, where we have planned an aperitif, also attracts a lot of interest from the citizens of the Valsesian area.
The rain begins to fall and the sky to lighten just as we are ready to leave for the third and final stage of this Tour.
We leave the center of Varallo to immediately take the SP78, another very famous road by the locals and scene of many rallies in the area: the Colma di Civiasco.
Every Lake Shore Drive that has taken place has seen this road as part of the Tour, as well as having already traveled it yesterday, even if in the opposite direction, so it can be said that by now it is well known to Special Stages.
It's always fantastic and especially today, when it has just stopped raining, there's no traffic and the asphalt is almost dry. It starts with a very wide climb with fast stretches and wide hairpin bends up to the town of Civiasco. From here the road narrows a bit and the route becomes very winding going up to the Colma. The descent sees a bit of dirty asphalt but still in good condition in a succession of bends that are repeated in a frenetic way and put a strain on the braking systems!
You pass the town of Arola and then arrive in the valley and breathe a sigh of relief because this stretch really doesn't leave you a breather!
We go north, on the SP46 up to the municipality of Omegna. The rain is now a memory fortunately.
We begin a transfer that takes us around the lake returning south on the eastern shore, along the SP229, up to Orta San Giulio, and then up to Armeno for the last and beautiful stretch: the climb to Mottarone!
You leave the municipality of Armeno in a rather narrow and even steep first section up to the first hairpin bend. The asphalt is perfect, just some wet sections where they are more in the shade. Halfway up the climb, the vegetation becomes sparser and you begin to enjoy the beautiful panorama, even if the driver doesn't have time to look around.
The last stretch is fast, almost devoid of vegetation and is wonderful, especially the last two hairpin bends which by now, as tradition, bring many "spectators" to see the caravan of Special Stages passing to reach Bar Alp, where the Tour of this day with a beautiful Party that closes the event.
What to say?
The weather this weekend was definitely not on our side, a real shame because by all accounts the roads we chose were exceptional!
A great satisfaction especially when we bring these roads to know those who are not local, and even more when despite the weather and the closed roads we see the participants happy to have been there and to have spent another wonderful day together at Special Stages!
Obviously, we thank all the participants, the structures that hosted us in these two days and the municipality of Varallo Sesia for the great availability it reserves for us every year.
Are you ready for the next Tour? Saturday Run , Saturday 24 June, on the Cisa Pass, one of the most beautiful roads in Italy!