Friday, August 19, 2011

World's Shortest Trip to Lake Como

My adventure in Italy, alas, has almost come to an end. (I wrote this Thursday night and am now posting it early Friday morning, just before we leave for London.) I left Istanbul yesterday on a noon plane, arrived in Milan at 2pm, and after an hour-and-a-half van ride arrived in Menaggio, on the left leg of Lake Como. My grandmother, as it turns out, is fine and I think it’s safe to say that she was more freaked out than actually ill. But I’m happy to be here…who can pass up even a minute in Italy? (Interestingly, I wrote a last-minute freelance article for a magazine in Turkey about two weeks ago extolling the lake’s virtues…maybe my subconscious was calling out?)

When I’ve come to Lake Como before with my grandmother, we’ve usually spent two or three weeks here, always at the same hotel, the delightful Grand Hotel Victoria. There are quite a few jaw-droppingly beautiful villas to visit but other than that, there’s not a lot to do – it’s the kind of place where you have a nice lunch, stroll along the promenade, indulge in a late-afternoon gelato, maybe stick a toe in the lake. Personally, I’ve always thought "little-to-do" was its appeal. It’s gorgeous and all you have to do is sit back and soak it in. As a result, in years past I’ve tended to do nothing…I’ve toured some of the villas, sure, but mostly I’ve just read on the porch and enjoyed the view. And that=bliss.

But this time, with only one full day, I wanted to take advantage. I woke up unexpectedly at 7:15am so the first thing I did was take a 40-minute walk, mostly along the water. I’m not much for waking up early but here it’s worth it. During the day, the sunlight can be really harsh, bouncing off every direction from lake, slopes, and buildings; the sunsets aren’t great because the town faces east with a wall of mountains behind. But in the early morning, everything is bathed in a rosy light and the town is so quiet, except for the few fishermen languidly trying for the day’s catch. It’s a simply gorgeous time. See?


Admittedly, I did spend most of the rest of the morning reading. But after lunch, after my grandmother went up to take a nap, and after I read some more, I walked down to the piazza for a late-afternoon gelato. There’s one main place, the Gelateria Edo, and I usually only go there once or twice a trip but today, I felt like I couldn’t leave Italy without having had some gelato. It just seemed wrong, you know?  So I ended up having a cup of chocolate and pistacchio di Bronte. I don’t know what “di Bronte” means but this was the SINGLE.GREATEST.FLAVOR.I.HAVE.EVER.TRIED. I might actually dream about this ice cream, it was so good. I think it was the salty-sweet combination, like a good piece of sea-salt caramel. It was amazing.

Afterwards, I sat on one of the benches along the promenade and just watched the people and the water and the world. Ah, Lake Como. Love, love Lake Como.
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