Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Lovely Lake Como

Lake Como is bellissimo!  No wonder so many people vacation there.  Unfortunately, our visit coincided with what locals told us is the coldest spring in a hundred years or more.  Normally, it's 75-80 there, I think.  We considered ourselves quite lucky on the third day when we neared 65 degrees.  The other days were more in the 50s and very low 60s.  It was also cloudy and rainy the first 1.5 days, although the rain mostly stayed away while we were out and about.

We had a lovely view from our hotel room at Eremo Gaudio, a former hermitage, in the town of Varenna:
This hotel has its own private funicular.  We were in a room on the bottom part but took the funicular up to the top part twice for the wonderful views from the terrace:
There are a variety of ferries that you can take to other parts of the lake.  I was amused by the ferries for transporting vehicles.  It's pretty amazing to watch a large bus drive off of a ferry!
On our first full day on Lake Como, we took a ferry to the nearby city of Bellagio - it's a little bigger and has a lot more touristy shopping.  From the ferry, we admired the views of the Alps.  The photo belowwasn't actually taken from the ferry but shows some of the Alps hiding in the clouds.  I think at this time of year, there should not be any snow on them - ha!
In Bellagio, we purchased windbreakers/water resistant coats.  It's certainly been windy and rainy.  Plus, with plans to visit the Alps, we felt we'd get good use out of these.  Also, we match:
I would like to mention that I picked the coat first, and then Paul decided he liked it, too.  He said he was already planning on a black coat anyway, but I think he's just making excuses....

We also found a cute little library in Bellagio.  It's only open from 5-6:30 in the evening (wow, how do you like those hours?) though, so we didn't manage to go inside:
Walking away from the main shopping strip in Bellagio gave us some really great views - of the flowers growing along the rock walls leading to the water (this photo is taken looking downward along the wall into the water):
And of the scenery:
On our second day in Varenna, we took a cooking class, which I'll write about in another post, and went for a hike with yet more views of this gorgeous mountainous lake:
So far, there aren't a ton of places from this trip that I feel I must return to in the future, but Lake Como is definitely my top pick.  Especially if it were warmer.

Also, we've discovered that Italians take their hot chocolate seriously.  That stuff is thick and chocolate-y!  At first, I was kind of sad that they only filled the mug halfway, but then I learned why - can you see the thick drip of chocolate dangling off the spoon?
That's what I look like when wired up on chocolate, by the way (or when Paul uses the flash in a dark room).

And lastly, they have some peculiar tree-trimming habits in Lake Como.  They cut off the large branches and leave only the water sprouts, which I've always called suckers.  However, while looking up the term, I learned that suckers originate from the root of the tree.  These are water sprouts, since they are shooting up from large branches.  Who knew?  This isn't the best photo of it, unfortunately, but hopefully you can see how the very thick branches are covered with leaves from the water sprouts:

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