Great Times is Lago Di Como!

Trip Start May 03, 2007
Trip End Aug 22, 2007

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Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Great Times in Lago De Como, Italy
I think that out of all the places we have been to on this amazing journey, I was the most surprised by Lago De Como. As we approached the area and I saw that huge glorious lake with its dotted villages nestled into the coastline and up in the mountains, I was mesmerized. This place is beautiful!!

Sandy and Danny, our friends from Long Island had an apartment in one of these villages, Varenna, for a month, and invited us to stay with them for a week. The porch of the apartment looked straight out at Menaggio and the surrounding mountain. What a view!
We spent our time together taking the ferries to different sides of the lake to explore some of the many Villas that exist in the area. Villa Balbaniello, a villa restored by the heir to the Standa empire (Standa was 25 years ahead of Wal Mart) and Villa D'Este (an active hotel) were two of the most breathtaking properties I will probably ever see. The grandeur and wealth that existed and still exists today was displayed in these two villas with no limit. (See pictures).

Cycling this area of Italy was extremely challenging- and very scenic. Most roads were either uphill or downhill, so every ride was a soaker. However, there are tunnels that connect the lakeside villages which are the most dangerous for bike riders that we have ever seen. One trip through the sometimes 2 kilometer tunnels was enough for us. Our other journeys on bike were up into the Valsassina Valley. No tunnels, just 12 degree climbs for up to 45 minutes at a stretch. Swimming in Lake Como was also a pleasant change- the fresh, clean water of the Lake was very welcome after 12 weeks of Mediterranean seawater!

We took a day trip to Fragno, the birthplace of Marie Leporati Becker. We visited the house on the upstairs floor of which she was physically born. We spent an hour with our distant relative Giuseppe Leporati who purchased the house in the late1970s. We had lunch at Mariella's Restaurant, where according to Danny & Sandy they served us one of the best meals that either has ever had in Italy. We went on to visit Laura, the chef for our wedding, at her new place of employment, a spa in Monticello Terme. Not all the news was positive. The pastry chef for the wedding Lucia (age 59) retired 2 months ago and was recently diagnosed with leukemia. Mariella (age 48) has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. These tragic events in the lives of people we know well has served as conclusive proof that the idea of this journey, with all its inherent career risks, was spot on. Carpe Diem.

Probably the most memorable portion of this week was our experience with the owners of the property that Danny and Sandy had rented. They lived on the property also and had a huge, flourishing garden. Every day, either Roberto, Rico or their mother would stop by and give us zucchini flowers, eggplants, lettuce, etc. and encouraged us to use their garden as much as possible! Needless to say, there were some exciting meals taking place that week, with Steve and Danny taking turns cooking. (Ladies: A man that cooks (and cooks well) is a gift from heaven!!)

The bond that was created between us and Sandy & Danny was strengthened ten fold. Living in close quarters lets you know about the real person, and Danny & Sandy are real people that we are very glad to know so well.
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