We’ve been discussing going to Lake Como for years, somehow though we’ve always had it pegged as a destination for, well, shall we say, the more mature holiday maker. Not quite in the Saga category but maybe the entry level drug for the octogenarian traveller.
Well this year we decided that we were ready to take the plunge. We spoke to several people of our age and some younger folk as well. “Go”, they replied with one voice, “it’s glorious, stop being so stupid!” So this year we took the plunge a booked a week in Bellagio, the tiny town that is centrally placed on the lake in this special part of Northern Italy. We were following this with a week in Milan, so we would get back to noise and pollution and city life, soon enough.
It’s often said that Lake Como is in the shape of inverted Y. I prefer to think of it, more as a pair of very skinny dungarees. That being the case Bellagio is positioned smack bang in the crotch with easy access to all areas of the third largest lake in Italy. If you are flying, there are three airports which get you within close proximity of Bellagio. The the two main airports that serve Milan, plus the airport at Bergamo a short distance to the east of Milan.
By the time we were ready to book, Bergamo via Ryan Air was our only real option. Now, I know that that those two simple words “Ryan” and “Air” when joined together can cause many travellers to suffer palpitations, even the most experienced of travellers, can feel faint at the prospect. I have to say though, that once we had read their baggage instructions for the twentieth time, and realised just how small the size of our cabin baggage allowance was (without attracting additional costs), it all worked out fine.
Although Bellagio, is easily reached from Milan via a combination of trains, coaches and ferries, the journey from Bergamo was going to be a little more complex and one missed connection, could have delayed us from reaching our destination dramatically. We had booked an apartment via booking.com and noticed that they offered a taxi pick up to Bellagio for a fixed rate using an App called Mozio. We decided to utilise this, which turned out to be a very good decision. Who doesn’t like being greeted at an Airport, by someone holding a piece of paper with your name written on it?
Luckily for us, the driver was a charming fellow, with excellent English and his conversation, both entertained and informed as we took the spectacular drive. If you are looking at a map of the aforementioned dungarees, either leg has a town at the bottom of the trousers. To the west is Como, to the east Lecco. Our journey would take us towards the Lecco leg before skirting the lake on the opposite shore from that town, towards our final destination. It was a beautiful drive, all the better for being a passenger rather than a driver, the road is twisty and the views implore you to take your eyes from the road to embrace them. Our lovely, driver had things perfectly under control, allowing our excitement to build as the mountains and lake started to emerge in front of us.
Eventually we swept down into Bellagio and drove into heart of the old town, on road that was only marginally wider than our transport. We felt somewhat embarrassed as people had to jump into shop doorways or into small alleyways to avoid us. Our lovely taxi driver had called ahead to the owner of the apartment and made the arrangements for us to meet her, at the shop she owned in the town. Shortly we were in the nice little apartment, opening the window to look down on Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, the same narrow road that we had been scattering the tourists on minutes earlier.
Having dropped our cases, and changed footwear, we took the first of many short walks down to lake. The town is built into a hill side and many narrow, cobbled, footpaths mostly lined with shops and restaurants ease down towards the always bustling waterfront. Here there are several grand hotels, covered walkways (to shade you from the blistering heat and the occasional heavy downpour) and a couple of ferry stops.
Pretty soon we were enjoying our first taste of Aperitivo time, that’s the lovely Northern Italian practise of having a cocktail with a few nibbles. After a further wander around, we sat down to a lovely Pizza on a table overlooking the lake. It has to be said that the views across the lake from this area are stunning. The clear blue water laps back and forth with a seemingly never-ending series of hills and mountains providing a wonderful jagged and vertiginous backdrop. The lights from the small towns and villages on the other side of the lake, gradually start to twinkle as night falls, somehow making the view even more captivating. This really is a special place.
The ferries drifted back and forth, with boat-hands shouting “Bellagio” as the boat approached the ferry stop. Then before pulling away, the call for the next destination would go out “Varenna”, “Griante”, “Tremezzo and so on. Then it was back to our apartment, time to plan our time for the next week in this spectacular landscape. We decided that there was lots of walking (combined with ferry trips) to be done in order see as much as could of the beautiful surroundings. Tomorrow would be a busy day.