Lake Como, Italy – Prima Parte

When you have too much to say…

I have struggled to sit down and write this blog post. It is absurd that this is the case, because there is no lack of photos and stories to share. But then again, it is exactly because of the wealth of experiences that I have no idea where to begin.

Often I leave a trip or an encounter with a take-away point I hope to distill down and then share with my friends and family. This trip, however, was too much. Too much beauty. Too much to do. Simply too much to share.

So what will follow is 3 posts of all my favorite pictures, with perhaps a few stories sprinkled throughout. I will try to refrain from turning it into an advertisement for Lake Como, but it seems that to visit this place is to want to then share it with others.

This is the view from our Air BnB balcony. Yes – those are the Alps off in the distance

A little about Lake Como itself

I am going to embarrass myself here by saying that all I knew about the area was that George and Amal Clooney have a villa (or five) here. (Yes – I am ashamed as I write this). And in fact, we ended up here on vacation not because we had heard of the overwhelming beauty of the area, but rather for convenience’s sake.

You see, our good friends – the Pritchards – live in Scotland. We became friends while Jon was doing a post-doc in Madison and we have stayed in touch since then. Their boys had a holiday break from school, and we decided to meet up in a place that had cheap, direct flights from both Glasgow and Chișinău. So Lake Como it was.

But as it turns out, Lake Como is UNREAL. It is a large, deep lake. On a map it looks like a pair of pants, and though narrow, it takes more than an hour to drive down its length. It is in northern Italy, which means that steeps hills run all around the lake and spill right down into the clear water. And then on the northern edge, snow-covered mountain peaks can be seen between those steep hills. Your eyes can feast on the scenery regardless of the direction in which you look and regardless of the weather. We had our share of drizzly, overcast weather and yet, it remained stunning.

We stayed at San Siro – on the upper left side of the lake

Some takeaways from Thursday and Friday

Thursday was especially chilly and wet, but being hardy Wisconsiners and Englishmen, we were not put off. We spent Thursday walking around Menaggio – the closest large town to us. Despite the cool temperatures, there were still flowers and palm trees thriving. It was refreshing to see so much green after the dreary Chișinău winter. And honestly, the scenery was all just a backdrop to our first day of catch-up with old friends. Also, apparently Pritchards love to eat ice cream even when it is freezing…and Italy is definitely the spot for delicious gelato.

On Friday we took a furnicular (seriously sounds like a piece of medical equipment to me) to the top of peak near Como. Como is one of the most populous towns around the lake and is located at the southwestern most tip. Let me just say that many detours occurred as we tried to find our way to the parking area. Driving the Italian mountain roads is a feat of courage in itself, but adding traffic to the mix is downright madness.

What is the entertainment for children up here?

A Pritchard boy (spoken in a British accent)

Driving in Lake Como

Because of travel decisions made based on budget and not on ease, Daniel and I found ourselves arriving at the Air BnB around 11 PM after a flight from Chișinău and 4 or so hours of driving. Perhaps it was the fog of travel clouding our judgment, or the darkness that hid the peril of the roads, but we really didn’t have a full idea of what the driving conditions were like.

The next day we realized that maybe we should have been a little more nervous than we were the night before. It turns out that cars and motorcycles and bicyclists (lots of them) and pedestrians share VERY narrow roads. In fact, in some places there are traffic lights so that there are only cars going in one direction at one time (i.e. the road is too narrow to be 2 lanes).

Look at this fresh-faced kid. You would have no idea that driving was a maybe a little stressful.
See for yourself!

I did feel bad for Daniel, though. Because every turn along the road presented a new feast for the eyes. And whereas he had to keep his eyes on the road, I got to drink it all up. Thankfully, we had two more days of running, walking, boating, and driving to experience all the lovely scenery.