Lake Como

Trip Start Apr 04, 2008
Trip End Jul 01, 2008

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Saturday 10 May
The road to Lake Como was fine and the countryside was pretty up until Milan.  The roads here are narrow so once again it is a case of jagged rock faces, steep descents and maniac drivers. 
There are so many cyclists on the roads. They are dressed in their black lycra with fluorescent stripes and patches.  They look like they take their sport very serious.  They cycle as singles, in twos and in groups of 20 which makes it difficult to overtake them at times. 
There are also hundreds of motorbikes that are all speeding.  We saw at least two almost disasters where bikes were trying to overtake just as someone was going to turn across them.  Danny said driving is like playing a computer game where things jump out at you from the sides of the screen and you have to dodge and weave your way through them
Up and up, round and round and we found the village of Veleso and the house.  There was an Italian woman waiting for us outside the front door.  She showed us in; babbled the entire time in Italian and then left.  All we found out was that there is no washing machine and she doesn't know where there is one.  Oh dear. 
We have the top floor of the house with a fantastic view down to the lake with the villages on the banks.  We can also see down the valley through to parts of the lake and Switzerland way in the distance.  The house is in 1930's style with huge rooms and chandeliers in the lounge and bedroom.   
Sunday 11 May
Bellagio is a stunning town right on the lake's edge.  It has large grand buildings and lovely restaurants with classy customers bedecked in white linen with large sunglasses and lots of gold and men attired in snappy leisure jackets taking in the sunset and views of the other villages on the opposite side of the lake.  We walked along the tree lined boulevard along the lake edge and past the garden beds full of mini pansies and other pretty coloured annuals.  
Monday 12 May 
Today we drove down to Como and then up the western side of the lake until we reached Tremazzo village and Villa Carlotta.  It is a grand, three storey, square house with manicured gardens, a fountain and a double staircase to the entrance way.  The villa contains some large marble sculptures and some noteworthy paintings.
We went for a walk through the gardens, famous for its azaleas and rhododendrons.  They would have been in their prime about three weeks ago but you could still tell how pretty they must have been.  They were in all shades of orange, red and mauve.  
Monday 13 May
We headed down to Bellagio to go for a cruise on the lake.  We opted for a return ticket to Colico which gave us a four hour boat trip right up to the top of the lake.  It was a wonderful day.  The sun was shining, the boat had a bar on board and we were able to get a glass of white wine for €1.50.  We sat outside on the slat bench seat on the back deck and watched the terracotta villages on the lake shore as we floated by.  The water of the lake is clean and green and looks like sea water. There are pencil pines and church towers punctuating the scenery.  All the towns are pretty and clean.  They are all peppered with restaurants and souvenir shops but there is nothing cheap looking about the area. The setting is made complete by the snow capped mountains.  It isn't a complete cap but a dusting of snow with some more solid patches in the valleys. 
Wednesday 14 May
Today we went to Lago Del Segrino which is a smaller lake south of Lake Como.  We took an hour to walk all the way around it.  It was a good walking path so it was pram city with all the mothers out strolling with their babies.  There were also lots of people lying sun baking on the waters edge. 
Thursday 15 May
The drive was much more enjoyable once we reached the larger carriage way to travel north to St Mortiz, but we had to contend with the tunnels some of which even have merging lanes from other tunnels.  I swear the country has been invaded by an army of moles there are so many tunnels.
When we reached the Swiss border we had to show our passport to the uniformed guard.  The guard went away with our passport and returned with two other guards.  We were then asked us to get out of the car and stand in front of it.  The guards then took 15 minutes to do a thorough search of the car.  They looked in the boot, took the back seat out, checked out the door panels and even looked with torches along the engine firewall.  We must have proven very boring for them with only one bag containing camera, video and map.   In contrast we breezed through the Italian check point on the way home; the guards barely raising their eyes as we drove through. 
We drove up the Julie Pass to St Mortiz.  We had seen the mountains speckled with snow but the closer we got the more of the snow we could see.  At some points it was on the edge of the road.  Once on the plateau we saw a lake that was frozen in parts.  Fishermen were trying their luck on the edge where the ice stopped.  Another lake had big sections of crushed ice where two sheets of ice had been pushed together and had snow right down to the waters edge.  It was hard to imagine just how much snow it must get in winter. 
St Moritz has a higher and lower section to the town and both parts were dead.  It is a ski town and nothing happens in the summer.  There were hardly any people and most of the shops including the designer stores were closed. The only shop open was a chocolate shop.  We did find some restaurants but they wanted $25 for a burger so we went hungry. 
Friday 16 may
We can't see the lake or the valley as we are actually above some clouds and in the middle of others.  We had thought of walking today but it is just too wet.  You can see the water dripping off the veranda railings.   So it was a nice day to stay inside and enjoy our villa.  
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