Il Giorno di Como

Today we arise around 7/8am. For some reason, the bell tower at the abbey likes to ring their bells at 6am and again at 7-something. As though sensing that this was not enough of an alarm clock, the town garbage collector steps in with his truck and lack of respect for silence.

We get up and shower in the 6 square feet of space that passes for our shower and tub, then head to breakfast. If we had read our itinerary more closely, we would have realized that breakfast was included with our stay. Yummy cereals and yogurt soothe the tummy after a long flight and full day of adjusting to the time difference.

Next, we’re off ot the car to head to Bellagio on Lake Como. The GPS really seems to like the the neighborhood next to us, as it keeps detouring us through it.

After two toll booths and three autostrade, we arrive at Como Sud and start the serpentine journey to the center of the lake. Fun and stressful is how I’d describe it. I don’t think that I blinked more than 10 times in the 45 minutes that it took to drive to the end. Narrowing lanes (down to one lane at times), oncoming traffic, stopped cars (in the middle of the road (down to one lane at times)), and pedestrians, cyclists and nonnas with shopping carts (sometimes all three) keep me on my toes along the winding, blind-turn road guiding us to Bellagio. From a performance and handling perspective, I wish that we were in a sports car, but given the conditions, I’m appreciative of the smallness of the Ford Focus.

Bellagio is nice. Touristy, but nice. Nancy manages to make her first clothing purchase: a scarf at an “outlet” store near the top of the hill of shops. I have a feeling that the word “outlet” does not naturally exist in the Italian language, and as a result get the feeling that this could be a tourist trap. However, the prices are decent, the quality of the garments good, and the chain-smoking shopkeeper is a friendly lady who doesn’t speak very much English, but understands it enough to help us learn a few more words in Italian.

After that, we realize that the ferry boat to villa Balbianello that we’ve purchased tickets for is leaving in 15 minutes… and we’re hungry. As we descend the 60 foot mound of shops, we spot a small bar/panini shop and duck in. We manage to get a sandwich (and even manage to get it heated up, since we’re not paying attention to what the person is doing) and take it to go. We quickly scarf down the panino in the 5 minutes that we have left while we’re waiting at the dock, then hop on board the ferry. After 4 stops along the way and a water taxi, which apparently is the only way the villa is accessible (hidden cost), it’s all worth it. The villa and it’s grounds are beautiful. There’ll be pics later on.

Nancy managed to grab a gelato on the way to the villa in the quiet and peacefull town of Lenno. On the way back to the dock for the ferry (which we see docked at the pier) she decides to get another gelato, while I continue on to hold the boat for her. Deciding that buying a gelato isn’t the best use of her/our time at this point, she catches up with me in time to see the boat leave. We must wait 10 minutes for the next one. Deciding that buying a gelato is an appropriate use of her/our time at this point, we head back to the gelato stand and she gets a double scoop. Porco! :)

After getting back to Bellagio, we hop in the car and head back toward Como, looking for an Osteria along the way. No luck. We get into Como Nord, still looking. Still no luck. As Nancy mentions that the city reminds her of Oakland, I realize the futility of trying to find a decent place to eat at random along the road in a city this size and start following the signs for the autostrade.

We get back into town (Orta San Giulio) and hit up a little restaurant that wasn’t open during the last two nights: Jazz Cafe. It’s easily the best deal in town. Combined indoor and outdoor seating, smooth jazz, good food and inexpensive wine make this a winner.

We hit up the local enotecca and after a 50% success rate on the wines there, we call it a night. Tomorrow… our castle awaits.

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