I admit that I am a lover of Italy. Being a country that offers so much I opted for the north. The north is very well represented by Milan and there is a great motivation to go with the Lake Como, a beautiful natural spot. The Lake Como, also called Lake Lario, is one of the deepest lakes in Europe. Each of the three branches that form it is called by the names of Como Lake, Lecco Lake and Colico Lake. The lake is fed by the Adda river, which descends from the Valtellina.
The inverted Y-shaped lake is the result of glacial action, which offers spectacular views of the Como Alps and Bellagio. It is this mountainous landscape and calmness that has attracted visitors for centuries in search of rest, walks and navigation. All this is what made us realize one of our stages in the trip.
We decided to stop only in Varenna and Bellagio in the lake. Of course, it is an area to spend more days and visit other places that are well worth it, but we did not have more days. The first thing to be clear is that the north is expensive. And that is a business city so it has a lot of demand focused on a different public. In the flights there is not much problem since there are many companies, but we must bear in mind that hotels are expensive. And if you want them next to the cathedral they are prohibitive.
We arrived at the Airport and had our flight at 9:35. We arrived at the Linate airport around 13:00. It is a very small airport so finding the bus is very easy. In 45 minutes we were already at our destination. We saw the hotel we chose as soon as we got off the bus. The rooms were fine without any noise with friendly staff.
As it was already lunch time we asked the receptionist for advice for a restaurant. She told us of one in Via Pirelli. There I ate a Risotto alla Milanese that is different from other risottos because it is made of butter with saffron. In the afternoon we decided to go to Sforza Castle and the gardens behind it.
To get there, we take the metro in Lanza station to Foro Buonaparte and we can see part of the Castle. Since we were just in time, we decided not to visit the museums. On the outside the truth is that it is worth it. The Parco Sempione behind is also very beautiful and we walk until we reach the Arco della Pace.
On the way back, we decided to walk to the Duomo, which is only about 15-20 minutes away on Via Dante. As we were a month away from the Expo, the whole street is filled with flagpoles from different countries. It is a commercial street. Finally, we reached the Duomo. It impresses a lot. It was mid-afternoon, so we went to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II where we saw the expensive shops there.
I did not enter any, because I always have the feeling that they are going to kick me out even if I went to the Ferrari store. As a faithful follower of Formula 1, I could not resist seeing Fernando Alonso's Ferrari up close.
As dinner time approached, we decided to take the metro in Duomo to go to the hotel area.
We dined at a restaurant in the station square on the corner with Via Vitruvio. I ate pizza and they were quite good. In this way, we finish the first day, ready for the excursion to Como.
Finally the day comes to visit the Lake Como. We got up early and go down to breakfast as fast. The breakfast was very complete with yogurt, fruit, natural juices, cereals, different, breads. We wanted to go to Lake Como and we knew that it would take an hour to get there by train. So we checked the train schedule and chose the one that left at 9 am from the Cadorna station.
Although our hotel was closer to the central station, we chose the Cadorna station to depart. After having looked at it a lot we decided to take the metro in Central to go to the Cadorna station and take the train there. The choice was because in this station the train leaves in Como Nord, which is on the right side of the Lake, and we did not want to get lost in the city.
As we left with time to spare and the subway took a very short time, at the end when we arrived at Cadorna, we were able to take the previous train, the one at 8:40. So it is better because we had seen the weather forecast of possible rains in the late morning. So the earlier we arrived, the more we could take advantage of there.
We bought the ticket directly at the ticket office, because the automatic machines did not return change. The train is a little older than the one that makes the transfer to the airport, but it was also comfortable and most importantly, very punctual.
We arrived in Como and as soon as we left the station, we saw the signs to the jetty. We had to go down a little hill and immediately we found ourselves with beautiful scenes. We took a short walk to the duomo, to spend a little time until the ship left and then we went straight to the pier, which was only 5 minutes away.
So without more, we embarked on an old converted paddle boat. The truth is that it was pretty cool. It had outside seats both forward and in the aft, and inside is a small bar, with its tables, all in very nice wood.
We wanted to go upstairs as the day went along. As we were the first there was no problem and we took the best place. We sit forward and although it was not raining at the moment, there was a lot of fog in the whole lake. As soon as the boat started, we feel cold, but we did not think to go inside, as we wanted to enjoy the views.
Soon we began to see small villages in the mountainside, all similar, with small houses of different colors, with their own piers. Occasionally we see a church tower sticking out from the rooftops. In a spectacular background, we see the green mountains dotted with trees. It is a typical alpine landscape, and the border of Switzerland is less than 30 km away from there.
There were also spectacular villas, 5 star hotels with waterfalls from the mountains that poured directly into the lake. We see different types of boats that ran up and down the lake. The boat was zigzagging across the lake from one bank to the other, making brief stops to leave or pick up passengers.
The weather was nice, but the sun began to shy away, giving color to the landscape, and highlight the multi-colored houses on the green background. And almost without realizing it, we arrive at our destination, but not before a very popular stop at Bellagio. We got off the ship to go directly to the tourist office. They gave us a map and some more information.
From there we went to see the town. Bellagio is surely the most famous town of Lake Como, especially because of its location on the lake. Walking through its streets and discovering its corners makes it very special. It has some beautiful alleys and its views of the lake are very beautiful. We started at the top of the town where the church is located. We had a beer in one of the bars on the street since in that area they were not as crowded as in the lower part.
We returned to the upper part of town to have a coffee before catching the boat to Varenna. After one more stop on the other shore in Villa Carlotta, and going back to cross the lake we arrived in Varenna. Here we and went down with the intention of visiting the town a bit and eating there. At that time of day, the sun shone, and we did not stop giving thanks for our luck, because the weather forecasts were not being fulfilled at the moment. With sun, of course everything looks much better.
The village is charming with narrow and steep streets, colorful facades, and stone arches. At that time almost all foreign tourists were already eating on the terraces of the many restaurants. So the streets were quiet and almost deserted, transmitting peace and serenity.
After a little round trip, it was time to eat, because we did not want to go in a hurry to catch the boat back. We chose the cafe since we were looking for something light and informal. The restaurant inside is tiny, but it is decorated with exquisite taste. It looks like an old fairy pastry, since in addition to simple meals, they sell sweets and ice creams.
We sat on his terrace, which is on the shore of the lake, and we enjoyed some sandwiches and a good ice cream, with the sun as a companion. At the time of returning to Como, we did not feel like sailing for another 2 hours, since it was beginning to be cloudy. So we decided to take the fast boat, which took us to our destination in 1 hour.
When we saw the ship appear we hallucinated. Well, it's a type of boat whose hull stands out from the water when it has to pick up speed, with some paddles that sustain it. We go as if we were water skiing. I had not seen a boat like that before.
This boat, as is logical, does not allow us to sit outside. So we put ourselves in the first row of the hull that had some panoramic windows. I cannot tell you much more about the trip, because I took advantage of it and had a little nap. When I opened my eyes, we were in Como.
I would have been delighted to have been able to take the funicular up to Brunate, but I had read that if the day was cloudy it was not worth much. So I settled for watching from a distance the tremendous climb that the car has to climb to reach the top. As there was still time to catch the train back to Milan, we took the opportunity to wander around Como a bit.
The truth is that the town has a lot of charm, beautiful buildings decorated with iron balconies, paintings on the facades, and stores. I saw a couple of them with vintage jewels that left me stuck to the window, since they were in the art deco style, that I love. I see medieval stone houses, and streets to get lost and all by the omnipresent Duomo.
When we were heading towards the station, the clouds that were threatening us for a while said, here I am, and they began to spill their first drops. It was not going to be the only thing, because when we were already on the train towards Milan, a hailstorm fell, which we thought would break the windows! They accumulated on the ground forming a white blanket. When we arrived in Milan it was unbelievably clear (although it would not last long).
We then headed our steps to the neighborhood of Brera, with the Italy travel guide in hand. I see a couple of streets with restaurants and art galleries, but as it was too early for dinner we did not stay. We made a stop in the Pinacoteca, to visit its patio. We went on a short walk to the Piazza della Scala.
We crossed the gallery of Victor Manuel, but without stopping too much, since we had planned to visit it the next day more calmly. It was time to think where we would have dinner. We did not have anything planned. So I consulted my guide, to see what was nearby. We ordered risotto with green asparagus and a lake fish with rice and cinnamon, and for dessert a kind of vanilla flan with caramel and we had a good dinner.
And already the day was coming to an end. We were very tired after a long and intense day, so we go to rest after drinking a good wine, as we still had one full day to discover the charms of Milan.