Italy Stop #2 – Lake Como

#Italy #Como #VincentAdventure

After a few days in Milan, our next stop was Lake Como in northern Italy. Much like some people in Minnesota that live in the Twin Cities metro area have cabins, Como is a popular destination for many in Milan. Simply jump on a train for less than an hour and you are nearly to the center of the popular tourist destination.

Como is at the southern jumping off point for taking either a catamaran (fast boat) or a slow cruise up to some of the other nearby cities on the lake, including Tremezzo, Varenna and of course Bellagio. Two lane roads are also available around the lake, but my suggestion is drive as little as possible in all of Italy if you can; one because you are on vacation should relax, and two; driving in Italy can be scary for those unaccustomed to having your life in danger at all times.

One of the first things we did was visit Castle Vezio (Castello di Vezio), a more than thousand-year old former military installation, that is now home to “ghosts”. And by ghosts I mean plaster outlines that they create each season that become weather-beaten and enhance the view (as you can see below). The castle also has falconry classes and a full battlement tower you can climb to the top of to take AMAZING photos of the lake and see for miles around.

The only downside to visiting the castle is actually finding it. There are no direct roads, leaving only two options; a winding road that comes close but would still take more than an hour to get to following outside of the hill the castle sits on, or a single direct path that goes directly uphill. And when I say uphill, I mean nearly needing handrails uphill. All the info we saw said it would take a half-hour to reach, but they must have meant the way down, because it took us more than 40 minutes to walk, and we are both relatively healthy adults that like to hike. The walk was so steep and severe that my abs hurt the next day from walking bent over to keep my balance. The views were worth it though.

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Once we came back to Como for the night, we also took the Funicular up the side of the hill to gain a full view of Como at night. What the hell is Funicular you may ask? It is essentially a train car, built on almost a vertical plane. This train car takes you up and down the steep hillside to wonderful views. While our photos don’t quite do it justice, it is well worth a google search to see those whose have.

My favorite part of the trip came when we visited Villa Del Balbianello on the coast of Lake Como. This former monastery, Catholic church vacation home and government-owned meeting place, was most recently owned by the heir of a grocery store chain fortune, Count Guido Monzino. He was an Italian adventurer who bought the property and restored it to its former glory in the 1970s. When he died in 1988 he gifted it to a state-run trust along with an endowment to keep up its maintenance. It is now a museum and often used location for well-known films such as Star Wars, Casino Royale and many others.

There were many other parts of the visit to mention as well, like visiting Bellagio and walking through their shops and sampling gelato (which we will eventually get its own blog post), but the thing people always ask us about is did we see any celebs. And this time we did!

The people who are always associated with Lake Como are George and Amal Clooney, as they own a vacation home on the water. We must have somehow gotten lucky while we waited for a boat, as look who was coincidentally catching a ride on a giant tour bus. Maybe his Bently had a flat?

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