Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Lake Como, Italy

There are so many little villages around Lake Como and each has it's own personality and style. We spent 3 days there with Go Ahead Tours and it was long enough to realize that 3 days wasn't nearly long enough to explore this area. It was just an appetizer!
 I'm a water baby so I was thrilled that we had so many water views along our way. The little marina's were dotted with the wooden Italian boats I would come to adore. Church spires dominate the skyline and yet still can't compete with the Italian Alps behind them. 
 Chances are, while you are visiting, you are driving from one location to the other. While driving around try to catch the mini details that are on the side of the two lane roads around Lake Como. There are plenty of stairways that lead down to more homes or water access points that have beautiful carved posts like this one.
 Ok, so funny story. All the way around Lake Como there are views such as this one that you can see across the lake. From your vantage, even in a tall bus, the best you are going to see of the side you are on is usually rooftops and chimneys due to all of those trees that you see in this photo. Well, we are driving from the hotel to the town of Como and our guide announces that we are currently passing by the villa that George Clooney owns there. So everyone stands up and cranes over to see the home...or should I say, the chimneys of the home. It was down there...somewhere. We joined our fellow tourists that first time, saw that we couldn't really see anything and that, unless Mr. Clooney  himself dashed along the side of the bus, our chances of seeing him were slim to none, we sat down again. Over the next couple of days, driving here or there around the Lake, our guide would announce each time we were near Mr. Clooney's villa...and each time we would watch as people would stand up, not us, and crane over AGAIN to see..well, chimneys. Seriously, each and every time we passed. And, I'm STILL not sure which was his house! Too funny!
 But what we could see was seriously charming. The details are just amazing. I would have loved to have had the time to find out what each detail meant on the buildings we passed on our way to Como. 
This is the Duomo of Como. Beautiful indeed but it was the blue lapis that charmed me. I would have loved to have taken a ton of photos of this Duomo but, sadly, my battery died. Yup, I'm a cautionary tale. Old fashioned film cameras run on easy to find batteries. Digital cameras run on hard to find batteries. I looked all over Como for a battery and never found one. I ended up buying two box cameras to take photos of Como and our trip out to Bellagio. I learned, quickly, to charge my battery up every single night, something I'd never had to do at home, and, after this trip, to carry another charged battery with me. In fact, I now have 3 batteries that I carry with me and 3 different SD cards...just in case. When it comes to once in a lifetime trips you don't want to take any chances. It was a very hard lesson for me to learn. 

So, since I don't have a photo of Bellagio to show you I will share with you a story. We took a wonderful cruise across the lake to get to Bellagio. I was thrilled to see the villa where a James Bond movie had been filmed and Bellagio was beautiful. We walked up the steep stairs, shopped in the shops so we could bring home gifts from the "real" Bellagio, not the Las Vegas version, and then stopped at an outdoor cafe for a coffee and light snack. The simply gorgeous 20-something waiter tried his best to understand "iced coffee" and I tried my best to remember the Italian for "ice" (ghiaccio) because this was what my mom was hoping to have for her drink. I had ordered a cappuccino and some cookies for us to share and all she wanted was an iced coffee to go with them. Ice isn't a normal item in Italy. They consider it very bad for the digestion so everything is chilled in a refrigerator but not served over ice. So we did our best, all three of us, me, my mom and the waiter, to figure this little issue out when he suddenly brightens up and says "Oh Si, Si...ICE coffee!" and heads off to the kitchen to get our order. To our absolute delight he brought her back a tall hurricane glass filled with coffee, vanilla gelato topped with whipped cream and a rolled cookie! BEST iced coffee EVER! Best mix up in communication ever as well! 

This was when we decided that you must have to be gorgeous to be a waiter in Italy. Every single one we have encountered on our trips there has been simply stunning. This is also when we instituted the HIOTD (the Hot Italian Of The Day). Crass, to be sure, but fun! We would not make a big deal out of it but wouldn't pass up an opportunity to covertly share our HIOTD with each other each day. Naturally, many of them were our waiters! 

From here we traveled to the Italian Riviera so next week I'll introduce you to Santa Magherita Ligure. 


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