Hot Hot Day on Lake Como

Lake Como—June 25-26th
We left Lake Maggiore on Wednesday afternoon and drove to Lezzeno. I had printed out driving directions from each hotel to the next on Google. These were useless. It’s so American to want to know the name of the road and when to turn left. Instead we learned to navigate the Italian way: find the name of the town and follow the signs.

Lake Como is an inverted Y; I always think it looks like someone running. Como, on the toes of the extended leg and the city where George Clooney, the movie star, has his villa, has Big City feel: traffic, noise, chaos, but it’s where a glimpse of the stunning vistas begin.

The road up to Lezzeno from Como is a Thrill Ride, particularly if you’re the passenger keeping track of how close the side mirror is to the buildings/cliff wall, as Dave will attest. Lots of gasps from his seat and a few from mine as a large city bus nearly took out the driver’s side mirror. I came to a dead stop, kind of winced waiting for the impact of the bright blue bumper into our tiny car, but the bus swerved past us–the passenger side mirror was about 2” from the cement pillar of the building next to us.

I learned to pull over to the let the local, crazier drivers past me and tried to enjoy the scenery. I also tried to convince Dave to not white-knuckle the door handle and enjoy the scenery as well.

Where Lago Maggiore’s hills (where we stayed) rise gradually from the shore to their heights, Lago Como’s mountains are more sheer in their slope, much taller. It’s stunning in the contrast between the flat lake and soaring mountains.

View from our hotel window. The white roofs are the dining pavilion where we had our dinner.

Hotel Aurora, with the owner out front directing parking. I also saw him again early the next morning, picking up the milk bottles from the front door in his jammies. Our balcony window is on the right, first floor.
We could also hear the cheers and groans from the bar (underneath our window in the front corner of the hotel) as the football game progressed. They take their soccer seriously in Europe. We heard it all because we had no air conditioning, only a ceiling fan, and Italy’s been very hot and humid, “calda tropica” as one older woman put it to me.

On our walk after dinner, we saw this house with decorative painting under the eaves. This was one of the better-kept homes in this lakeside town. Lezzeno is kind of like those beach resort towns in New Jersey. A sneaker, wear-your-swimsuit kind of place, with enough regulars to keep the place going and things interesting.

On the first floor balcony, the divider between the two apartments in painted with a scene from the lake.

Bellagio. This town is further up the coast from Lezzeno, and with Dave’s Parking Karma we found a parking place speedily. We walked into town, and maybe because we were tired from the lack of sleep (a hazard of travel), the heat and humidity, we didn’t stay here long. It was very touristy–lots of shops–but with the exchange rate of 1.50 euros to 1 dollar, it cools the shopping passion very quickly. I think if we had stayed in town, and could discover more about it without the legions of tourists (like ourselves), it might have been more charming.

The side streets moving upwards reflect the steep gradient of the terrain.

 


We said good-bye to Bellagio and took the car ferry to Varenna, about a 15 minute trip.

I had originally wanted to stay here, but it wasn’t possible as we were so late in booking, and the only hotel rooms left were the ones that cost sacks and sacks of money.

 

The view from the car ferry.

 

Along the water is this walkway connecting the two parts of the town. (They are more connected up top.) We walked over to find some lunch.

 

After our melon and prosciutto lunch, we toured the gardens of the Villa Cipressi. Apparently touring gardens on Lake Como is a big deal. So we did our part–melting, drip by drip into the languid landscape.

 

Dave took this photo of a magnolia in bloom.

 

And of a radiant cactus.

 

Nocciola–a hazelnut tree.

 

Garden Gate
Villa Cipressi Gardens
Varenna Italy
taken by David Eastmond

 

Camera harmonies–this one’s mine.

 

St. George and That Dragon
Varenna Italy
taken by David Eastmond

 

The above window is from this church in the town square of Varenna.

 

Looking down Varenna’s streets to the lake. I think it’s gelato time. This time I had raspberry and melon and Dave and I shared it.

 

Melon and Raspberry
Varenna Italy

June 2008

 

Happy Holidays!

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