written 5th April 2010
Buona Pasqua everyone!
We have had visitors! Honorary day time van-dwellers no less :)
Four lakes in four days and four nights of fine food, fine wine and excellent company, can't ask for more from an italian lakes mini break. well, except for nice weather to enjoy it all in - sadly most of the views were through slightly steamed up, rain spattered windows :( but you can't always have everything... and a fine time was had despite the weather
It started well, when we picked Kathryn and Austin up in glorious sunshine from Bergamo airport and set off bound for Como where we found their hotel, somewhere nearby to park and pizza in quick succession, but sadly the next day was horrible. Grey and foggy and wet. So much so that you couldn't see the other side of the lake, and it is not a wide lake :(
Lake Como is an inverted Y shaped lake, with two legs which meet about halfway up with Como at the foot of the western one, Lecco at the foot of the eastern one and Bellagio in the crotch. The sides are all fairly mountainous and still with snow on the tops, when you could see the tops that is...
We set off up the western shore to Laglio, to see our friend George (Mr Clooney, Sir to the rest of you ;) ) but sadly he appeared not to be at home to visitors - even those travelling in such fine style. We were sure that we would find him, propping up the bar in some local, old men's cafe and that, had he been in, he would have been up for a roadtrip, Kathryn and I would happily have taken him for a ride at any rate... ;) Such a disappointment, I mean, he must be here, who would be in horrible LA in unbroken sunshine when they could be in beautiful Italy in the rain...
So instead we went to the tourist office in Tremezzo in search of leaflets and things to do in the wet where a rather lugubrious woman said that she had only opened the previous day so didn't know where anything was, couldn't give us very much in the way of leaflets, and didn't really know why we might want to be here anyway. When asked about what was good to see and do, she sort of shrugged and said that the west coast is very pretty and charming in the summer but there was really not much here. She supposed we could go to a villa but really that was about visiting the gardens so in the rain we would be wasting our money. And everyone knows it always rains in the first week of April - well, not any of the websites I read two months ago when this trip was first discussed, and which in fact said that in March/April, we could expect 20 degrees and probably sunshine... In fact, she suggested, the best thing to do, was not be here at all but either get a car ferry to Bellagio, where we could go shopping in the typical streets, or go to switzerland where we could go shopping in a big hypermarket/mall. hmmmm
We celebrated the sunshine with tea and traditional easter cake
and toasted the sunset with apperitivi of prosecco and olives - well you have to follow the local customs for the full-on foreign holiday experience! -
before heading out for local speciality of Polenta in a mountainside restaurant. Simply delicious - massive clouds of wholemeal, sticky, puddingy stuff with various meaty toppings, nothing like the nice but rather pallid slabs of white polenta I have had before - mmm mmm mmmm
As promised, the sun did put its hat on the following day, so we set out to play on the lake, having planned a boat ride to Bellagio, then a walk part way back along the Dorsale path, which runs from Brunate to Bellagio and was described in the leaflet as "a beautiful hiking trail...it's an easy trail following mainly mule track and cart paths. From it you can enjoy beautiful mountain scenary." All sounded good!
Turns out, you can't buy bus tickets on the bus. obviously. You buy them in bars and tabacchi. but not in this particular bar/tabacchi right next to the bus stop. oh no, that would be far too easy. to get a ticket, you have to walk back to the centre of Bellagio. But fortunately we were able to look foreign and stupid enough that the driver let us on saying we could buy tickets 'on the road' whatever that meant, so for the first time this trip, we didn't miss the last
So home, safe and sound and visitors for home cooked pasta dinner - for the full van dwelling experience :)
Sadly, after only 27 hours of loveliness, the weather was thoroughly broken again in the morning and remained that way for the rest of the holiday :( We drove right around Lake Como, past Lake Annone to Lecco then up to the top at Colico and back down the other side in search of sunshine but only found rain and fantastic icecream - so not all bad!
but all good things come to an end. back to work for some, on to pastures new for others - Slovenia tomorrow!