ITALIA! We departed Frutigen, Switzerland early one morning for a long day of travel over and through the alps towards Lake Como, which is right near the border. We drove as far as we could in the alps until we had to load our car onto a train (filled with other cars) that took us at high speed through a steep tunnel through the mountains. On the other side we had an amazing (although slow, long, and windy) drive over a mountain pass where there was snow on the sides of the roads (in June). When we descended, we were in Italy. We dropped our rental car off in Lugano which is a Swiss town that speaks Italian very close to the Italian border, also on an amazing lake just like Lake Como. Then a few trains later over the border and we were in Italy, finally. And you can definitely tell when you are in Italy. On the Swiss side everything is neat, clean, orderly, shiny, fast.. On the Italian, there is graffiti and rubbish everywhere, and buildings are crumbling.. but it is still beautiful.
On this journey, Dylan discovered that he had lost his passport. It turns out, months later as I write this, that he left it in the rental car, and even when he called them to double check they obviously lied and said it wasn’t there. Luckily the next person who hired the car found it. Anyway, Dylan had to go to Milan during our stay in Lake Como (Milan is very close) to apply for a new passport at the Australian consulate. In the end, everything eventually worked out.
We stayed in a room of a house on Airbnb in the town of Como, which is at the south western end of the lake (which is a huge lake). Como is the biggest town on the lake and the centre of most of the business in the area, and as such is not quite as attractive as the picturesque towns along the lake, but it has an old walled city centre which is definitely Italian. We stayed with an Irish family who live there in Como now in a giant villa house which was really great.
The first few days we were in Como the weather was quite spectacular.. in a bad way. Huge storms for three days straight with more rain, thunder and lightning than I’ve ever seen. It was incredible, really. When the storms cleared though, we were treated to the most gorgeous sunset ever. During one of these stormy days we met up with our friends Mon and Kjell who happened to be staying on the lake at the same time, so we went to Bellagio, the most picturesque town on the lake for a night of beer, pizza and limoncello. That was a fun night, we’re glad we could make it happen!
So for the remainder of our time at Lake Como the weather turned perfect and the sun came out. So we went out on the lake on a ferry to Lenno, Tremezzo and Bellagio – all three are very beautiful towns, especially Bellagio. Near Lenno is Villa Del Balbionello which is well worth visiting – it is a magnificent old villa built on the best vantage point of the lake with views all around, complete with amazing gardens. It’s where the final scene of Casino Royale was filmed, as well as some romantic scenes of Star Wars Episode 2.
Lake Como really is an extremely beautiful place that is very Italian in every way. We’re glad we went. It should definitely be high on any Italian holiday list!