Menu Book now
  • Harley Roadtrip

    Born to be wild

    J&J take The Living Circle by storm on their Harleys!

  • Roadtrip 507

    Born to be wild

    J&J take The Living Circle by storm on their Harleys!

  • Roadtrip 923

    Born to be wild

    J&J take The Living Circle by storm on their Harleys!

  • Roadtrip 535

    Born to be wild

    J&J take The Living Circle by storm on their Harleys!

  • Roadtrip 689

    Born to be wild

    J&J take The Living Circle by storm on their Harleys!

  • Roadtrip 1293

    Born to be wild

    J&J take The Living Circle by storm on their Harleys!

  • Roadtrip 1625

    Born to be wild

    J&J take The Living Circle by storm on their Harleys!

  • Roadtrip 1664

    Born to be wild

    J&J take The Living Circle by storm on their Harleys!

This road movie is not fiction — it is a real-life story about a hotelier and one of his regular guests, who set off on a journey to discover the beauties of life. John and Jörg take The Living Circle by storm on their Harleys on a fantastic ride over the Alps. In the process, they also become best friends.

There they stand in the entrance: “Road King” and “Heritage Classic Softail”, polished to a shine. One black, the other metallic Silver Fortune, each fitted out with a 1800 ccm engine. But where are the main protagonists of our story? There’s Jörg — Jörg Arnold, managing director of the Storchen Zurich. He has swapped his usual blue, double-breasted suit for jeans and a leather jacket with “Route 66 — 50 years friendship 1966 – 2016” emblazoned on the back. Two years ago he rode the legendary route from Chicago to LA together with his best friend from his schooldays in Uri. Today, Jörg is heading off on a similar venture. An alpine crossing — on the trail of The Living Circle.

This time his fellow traveller is John White from Providence, Rhode Island. John and Jörg have known each other for years. John White is a regular guest at the Storchen Zurich, as were his parents and his grandparents before him. Whenever the businessman comes to Europe, he sets up his headquarters in Zurich. Today, the two of them are flying the nest and for once they have all the time in the world. John appears in full gear, his arms covered in badges, rings on almost every finger and a shining silver helmet under his arm. He wears a leather jacket taken one-to-one from the film “Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man”. It was given to him by his sons especially for this trip. He has three Harleys to his name, but only rarely finds the time to ride them.

They’re off! Along Limmatquai, across Bellevue Square and up Seestrasse. The first stage of the journey is easy-going — ideal for getting used to the road. A good half hour to Feldmeilen, then a left turn up the hill to Schlattgut farm, where John and Jörg — alias J&J — are met by a group of calves at the edge of the road. Maiko, the Bernese mountain dog, is ecstatic to see the distinguished guest from the United States. Domenik Ledergerber greets John White. The silver-haired visitor who turns 60 in a few days’ time reveals his first secret. In broad Swiss German, he tells them that as a young boy, he spent three summers in Davos herding cows and milked them by hand every day. 

“Let’s have a coffee,” served with ice cream from the farm. John White is impressed by what he has seen so far of The Living Circle, where hotels and farms work hand-in-hand: “From the farm to the table” — as part of daily life. “I like that”, he says. He doesn’t have to look far for the next example: Less than 150 metres away, another treat is waiting in Restaurant Buech. Of course host Marc Wyss has reserved the best table for J&J in the historic dining room. The perch from Lake Zurich with almonds tastes “amazing”, as Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe peeks over their shoulders. It is followed by a soft ice coffee, made at Schlattgut farm next door of course!

 

The toughest stage of the journey lies ahead. Now J&J can show what they are really made of. First they let the wind blow
through their hair on the ferry crossing from Meilen to Horgen, before revving up the engines. The road takes them past lush green meadows to Rothenturm. John is still somewhat cautious — it is over a year since he last sat in the saddle. They make a pit stop at Erli chapel, and the guest from the States has suddenly vanished. He was just praying to the top boss, he explains later on. John is thankful for every day, and with good reason: He once broke his neck in five different places while skiing in Davos. But he was lucky …

A change of scene, a different canton: We are now in Jörg Arnold’s home county. Half of the population of Uri has his surname, he says with a grin. They make the obligatory detour to Switzerland’s national hero in Altdorf for a lap of honour around William Tell and little Walter. In the meantime, another special guest has joined them in Flüelen: Philipp Arnold, Jörg’s brother, and another Harley freak to the core. The Arnold brothers guide John White up the mountain. And then it happens — the heavens open. But that doesn’t stop these tough guys.

They simply throw on their rain gear and negotiate the bends up the Schöllenen Gorge. Riding serpentines is not as easy as it looks, John admits that evening. They arrive at the Hotel Schwarzer Bären in Andermatt — the halfway point of their journey. And because they are hungry from the long ride, Guerino Coldesina serves up his best cuisine: deep-fried polpo to melanzane alla parmigiana and branzino, as well as young goat meat — followed by tiramisu of course! “When you travel with someone, you get to know each other pretty well. And after a day like this, you either love or hate each other. Dear Jörg, I have gained a new friend!” This moving toast marks the end of day one.

The wake-up call does not bode well. It is still drizzling. J&J drink their coffee, concentrate on conquering the heart of the Swiss Alps. Should they put their rain gear on or not? The weather has not yet quite decided what to do. Then suddenly, without warning, the Ticino sun comes out! The Leventina valley will be dry!

They get on their bikes and put the pedal to the metal, cruising down the long, straight road towards Bellinzona, where they make a short stop for an espresso to build up their strength for the final leg. Proudly, they ride through the gently sprouting rice and wheat fields of the Terreni alla Maggia.

Finally, they round the last bend and ride up the impressive driveway lined with perfectly cultivated rose trees to the hotel, where proprietors Gabriela and Simon Jenny are waiting to greet them: Benvenuti in Ascona! So this is the Castello del Sole, where his parents had been so often. John is deeply moved. He has an hour to cool down with a wonderful massage, and lie down for a while after sitting in the saddle for so long. But he must be back at reception at three …

John does as he is told. First, Fabio Del Pietro from the Terreni alla Maggia agricultural estate takes J&J to the cellar, just a short walk away, where he reveals the secret of his Ticino Merlot. They get to sample the 2017 vintage fresh from the barrel. But that’s not all: To round off the tour, they are treated to a lap of honour, starting directly behind the Castello. 

The rotors are already turning: John cannot believe his eyes when the helicopter takes off heading for the mountains. After ten minutes in the air with picture-book views of Ticino, they touch down at the Rustico del Sole, where Antonio Ferriroli and his wife Miriam are waving from afar. Who do you think is the director of this film? John shoots with one hand while he calls his wife and sons with the other.
“Guess what….!” 

On arriving, they are presented with coppa and lardo from the butcher in Gordola, mountain cheese from Togni and fresh bread, served with a Querceto from the Terreni to quench their dusty throats after this road movie. Of course Antonio also joins in the banter — he too has a Harley “Fat Boy”. These three men are made for each other. And if the helicopter wasn’t waiting outside the door to take them back to their real lives, they could have stayed talking for hours, swapping tales of the most beautiful routes in the world … Reto Wilhelm

START:
Storchen Zurich

All good things begin at the Storchen in Zurich. A once-in-a-lifetime ride through the heart of historic Zurich, over the “vegetable bridge”, past the city hall, along Limmat- quai towards the lake — it’s a dream come true for any motorcycle fan. The road ahead is 551 kilometres long — from Zurich to Ascona.

storchen.ch

1st STOPOVER:
Schlattgut farm & Restaurant Buech

The first reward has to be earned — the ridge above Herrliberg, also called Pfannenstil (Panhandle), is just the thing. After a few bends up through this attractive and extremely popular residential area, we are already in the midst of extensive meadows and pastures.

It’s wonderful to see the cows, donkeys, chickens and a Bernese mountain dog greeting the guests at Schlattgut farm. Before they set off again, they enjoy a delicious meal at Restaurant Buech with views of Lake Zurich.

schlattgut.ch
restaurantbuech.ch

OVERNIGHT STAY:
Andermatt

The Hotel Schwarzer Bären in Andermatt is a perfect place for speed junkies who prefer their food to be slow. Finest Italian cuisine and stylish rooms, at the halfway point to Ticino.

Restaurant & rooms in the Bären
Gotthardstrasse 137
6490 Andermatt
Phone +41 41 887 03 03

baeren-andermatt.ch

THE REWARD:
St. Gotthard

The pièce de resistance is the Gotthard pass. It is also the highest point of our road movie. The legendary pass, used in former times to carry wares north over the mountains in summer on pack horses, is a dream for any long-distance rider today. The downhill road heading south, the world- famous Tremola, follows 24 spectacular hairpin bends down 300 metres in altitude to lovely Airolo, where the southern wind blows. Finally, we ride through the Leventina — past the impressive structures of the Gotthard motor- way and the mountain railway line of the same name built in 1882.

passosangottardo.ch

DESTINATION:
Castello del Sole

Once we reach Bellinzona, our destination is not far away. It is nevertheless worthwhile making a short detour to see the three castles: Castelgrande, Castello di Montebello and Castello di Sasso Corbaro attest to ability of the Swiss to defend themselves in medieval times. Today they are a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The final spurt across the Magadino plane and past the fields of the Terreni alla Maggia is just a hop, skip and a jump. The grand finale of the tour is another castello: the Castello del Sole in Ascona on the shores of Lake Maggiore.

castellodelsole.com

The Living Circle

The Living Circle – is a hand-picked collection of first-class hotels and restaurants in incomparably beautiful locations, run by dedicated hosts. Rice, vegetables, fruit and a whole array of exquisite products – including wine, of course – is whisked fresh from our own farms directly to your table. That is how we define luxury. That is The Living Circle – luxury hotels fed by nature.