Sunday, 16 April 2017

La dolce vita on Lake Como

When you think Lake Como you think big sunglasses, riding in a convertible and hopping on boats with a drink in hand. And you wouldn't be thinking all that far from reality because Lake Como is the stuff dreams are made of: millions of shades of blue, mountains dipping straight into the glistening calm lake, air so clean you can smell a crisp alpine breeze and cute colourful villages where nothing probably ever happens (other than George Clooney dropping by to get his newspaper of course).

Back in March I went there for a day that will likely go down in history as the most beautiful day ever. Early in the morning we took the train from Milano Centrale to Varenna, wanting to escape the crowds that were putting Milan on lockdown due to the Pope's visit. Instead of pushing through squares to get a glimpse of him, we strolled through picturesque towns and enjoyed some pretty spectacular views ... a good trade-off I think.

We first went up a rather steep and unkept trail to get to Vezio Castle about which I knew nothing but something was telling me I shouldn't miss it. The site itself is a ruin but because it is right on top of a hill you get the most amazing scenery ever, overlooking Varenna, Bellagio, Lake Como and the Alps. Most of the photos were taken here, I can't lie. We then climbed back down a different side of the hill on an even steeper and more 'wild' path going through terraced olive tree orchards. By this point we were sweaty and hungry but we were definitely living la dolce vita.

We went into Varenna and we hid in a little piazza at the Al Prato restaurant which comes very highly recommended on Trip Advisor. It was more on the pricey side but we were celebrating so it was the perfect spot - we got this interesting starter of a local delicacy consisting of cheesy mash with asparagus and crispy bacon, which Demitri was very happy with, and then we had their signature dish, the risotto. Making abstraction of the ensuing 2 hours of stress during which I struggled to get any money off my card which hadn't yet been updated with my allowance, we then hopped on a boat to Bellagio, gelato in hand and coats on because after lunchtime the Como breeze starts to kick in and it gets preeety chilly.

As soon as we docked we made a run for the Melzi Gardens and Villa, the must see in Bellagio. It's still privately owned but it was built as the holiday retreat of Italy's first Vice-President (who had pretty good taste might I add). We couldn't visit it on the outside naturally, but the gardens were absolutely stunning, my eyes were just so overwhelmed with the amount of green they were seeing, after weeks in Milan. We didn't have very long in there because they were closing at 18 or 18.30 I can't remember exactly and we had to catch the last ferry back. This is where it got a bit muddled because we had just missed a boat and had half an hour to spare till the next one during which time we explored Bellagio town (Varenna is 50 times prettier). By the time we set foot back in Varenna it was too late to catch the 19.30 train and we had a good hour to kill in a sleepy town after dark. We solved that problem by getting some drinks at Caffe Varenna after which we waited a good half an hour extra for our delayed train that stopped for another hour and a bit on the tracks just outside of Milan. Long story short, we got home at half past midnight but it was such an incredible day that not even having delayed trains mattered, and that's how you know a place is worth visiting.

Photos are also a good indicator of that ⇣

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