Sunday, May 14, 2017

Lake Como, Italy

Back in January when Marbury, Masuka, Angie and I went to Karlovy Vary, we *might* have gotten a bit tipsy and we *might* have purchased plane tickets to Milan so we could go to Lake Como.  Hee hee!  Naturally, it's darn near impossible for military wives to plan something that far in advance, and Marbury was unable to make it because her husband was in the field.  We were sad, but Masuka, Angie and I made the most of it!

We weren't all sitting next to each other on the plane so I couldn't get an airplane selfie, so you'll have to settle for a Bergamo airport bus selfie.

It was a long, long day.  We were on the 8:28 am train out of Vilseck to Nuremberg, but our flight didn't leave until 11:25... and of course, it was delayed.  So we finally took off about an hour late, and then took the bus to the train station in Bergamo.  From there, you travel to Lecco and switch trains.  From there we finally got to Varenna and had to walk to our apartment, which was about a 15 minute walk in the rain.  Notice my sunglasses are on and in working condition here.

That's only thanks to this nice man!  One of the sides of my sunglasses came off but I managed to find the tiny little screw in the bottom of my bag and he whipped out a pocket knife (ummmm...) and screwed it back in for me!  Then tried to tell me in Italian to go to an optical store to get it fixed.  Thankfully certain words are universal!

Masuka had just had her hair done the day before and wasn't allowed to get it wet.  She wasn't happy with the rain!

We finally made it to our apartment and met up with Sebastiano who took us on a tour of the building, gave us some tips for buying wine and where to eat, and even enjoyed a glass of Prosecco with us!  We needed to eat, but the rain continued, so we didn't go far - just across the Piazza and down an alleyway that was super cute!

The town of Varenna is very steep, and there are lots of stairs that lead you down to the shores of Lake Como.  They looked pretty day and night!

Angie and Masuka got up a bit earlier than me and went for a "run" (they later said it was more of a run-walk and they did a lot of stairs!) so I got ready and went to the roof with my coffee because it was a beautiful day!

The wide zoom lens always captures more.  Lake Como was just breathtaking!

The little Piazza San Giorgio was right outside of our building.

Panorama of the entire section of Lake Como in front of Varenna.

Interestingly, there was quite a bit of snow on the mountains of the southern Alps that we could see from Varenna likely because it had rained so much the day and night before (meaning it was probably snow up in the high altitudes).  But by the end of Saturday, a lot of the snow up there had melted!  This was taken in the morning.

These boys were playing a loud game of soccer in the piazza early in the morning.

We decided we wanted to boat around Lake Como first thing because you never know what the mountainous weather would be later in the day and there was a chance of thunderstorms.  So we walked down to the dock area and I spotted this wiener dog on my way!  I'm obsessed!

Pretty flower boxes on cobblestone steps in Varenna.

Views from the dock area of the town of Menaggio.

I'm pretty sure this sailboat doesn't actually belong to anyone.  It's just here because it looks good.

There's no shortage of small, potted plants lining the many stairways of Varenna.

Sometimes I travel places and feel uneasy.  I don't know why.  It's generally just a feeling I get from a place.  Or it might be that a place is too crowded, too dirty, too unorganized.  I did NOT get that feeling in Varenna.  Everything was really easy going, the people were friendly and it wasn't overrun by tourists this time of year.  (Although almost all that we ran into were actually Americans!)

Our original plan was to take a water taxi, but the next one they had availability for was 6 pm so we decided to take the much cheaper ferry over to the town of Bellagio.  It was a short but really pretty walk to catch the boat.

Every time I see these, I can't help but think they belong on a cake.

The views from the boat of Varenna were stunning!  The mountains (or... hills, perhaps, when compared to their neighbors to the north) slope straight down to the lake.  When I was on the boat, I could only think about how Lake Como looked over the years, geographically. It's fascinating to think about how it was formed from the glaciers.  Lake Como is the third (the third!) largest lake in Italy! 

 More of a close up of Varenna.  Our apartment is just in front of the tower of the Chiesa di San Giorgio, which is in the middle left side of the above photo.

These ladies are so beautiful inside and out, they put me to shame!

We took the ferry over to the town of Bellagio because we had heard good things but Sebastiano, our host told us that people go over there and don't enjoy it as much as they do Varenna.  I would definitely say that is true.  While there was a lot more shopping, and a lot more to eat and drink, it just didn't have the same relaxed feel as Varenna.

From higher up in Bellagio looking out over Lake Como.

Potted plants on a cobblestone stairway with turquoise chairs.

On the boat back to Varenna.  Masuka has mastered the art of the selfie!  Me, not so much!

THIS GUY!  Hilarious.  Driving a sweet old MG, wearing a leather driving helmet and leather driving gloves and smoking a pipe.  He was gangsta!

Not all parts of Lake Como are populated.  It's dotted with small towns and plenty of trees and landscape. 

Close up of Varenna as we came back to port after the short ferry ride.

Just a more wide zoom shot of Varenna.  It looks like a painting!

Taking pictures of Masuka is so easy, especially in Varenna!

Back on dry land, I spotted these!  Any flowers with blue or purple are always a hit with me!

Cobblestone stairways and more potted flowers of Varenna.

We stopped for lunch at Vecchia Varenna.  This was probably our best meal of the entire trip, and the view just couldn't be beat!  It was also the first glass of wine out of many for the day.

Glass number two of wine (this was an excellent Muscato!) found me on the rooftop deck back at the apartment.  Now THIS is what I call a good Mother's Day weekend!

I feel like I'm always photographing someone very exotic with Masuka!

The lake was calm and the skies were blue.  On the left is the town of Fiumelatte.

I wasn't sure exactly what was going to happen with these clouds, but they never became anything that rained on us.  In fact, they provided very little shade on a sunny, warm day.

We must have seen these girls at least three times walking around different parts of town with these giant hydrangeas! 

Masuka went to work on her homework (she's working on her bachelor's degree) and Angie and I spotted a wedding!  Cries of, "Don't do it!" came from the rooftop!  (I kid, I kid...)

Oops. Kind of wish I had brought my bathing suit!  It's nice to finally have some sun and get a good amount of vitamin D, though!

We decided to get up and see a bit more of Varenna.  We started with a quick peek into the Chiesa di San Giorgio, where the young couple had just been married.  This church was consecrated in 1313. Can you imagine living in Varenna back then?

This one went up and dissipated and we never got to see any of the fun of it.

Literally about a block away from our apartment was the Villa Monestero.  Originally built in the 12th century, it was a convent until the mid 1500s.  Now it has fantastic gardens that you can explore.

The view, OH THE VIEW!!!

There were so many roses in this garden, of all colors.

I mean, we didn't have THAT much wine, so I was a bit perplexed when Masuka said, "I just want to hug this tree!"  Trees need love too, I guess!

I had to panorama this because I only brought my iPhone to the Villa Monastero. 

Man, I love this greenery!

There were plenty of other flowers, too.

A beautiful rotunda in the Villa Monastero gardens.  These gardens were only opened to the public for the first time in 1940.

Remember the bride and groom?  We are pretty sure they were having their reception in that building on the hill in the center of the above picture.  Lots of people were there, dressed up with drinks in hand.

Relaxing Masuka.

I just couldn't believe the color of the roses!

Some even in mixed colors.

Some roses were a really deep red.

There were plenty of other flowers and columns and palm trees to enjoy.

I don't know what this tree was but we thought it was a magnolia tree.

I think this is one of Masuka's favorite pictures of the trip because she was standing on a step above Angie and was so thrilled to be taller than her for once!

Pink flowers on the shoreline of Lake Como.

Hello there, quick, green lizard!

Ok we get it, Colleen.  Enough with the roses!  BUT THE ROSES!

As we were leaving the Villa Monastero, guess who we ran into!?  The bride and groom!  Her dress was just gorgeous!

Back at the apartment we (you guessed it) went back up to the rooftop deck for sunset.  Notice the snow on the Alps in the background is less than it was earlier in the day!  It had been very warm!

Naturally, there was some wine involved.

I really liked the shadowing that fell on the town of Fiumelatte from the scattered clouds.

The clouds (and of course the mountains) blocked our view of the actual sunset, but it was very lovely regardless!

Cat on an orange tile roof.  We saw this several times.  How do they get up there!?!

Lake Como, you were absolutely divine.  This would definitely be a place to go with your significant other (and probably you should leave the kids at home!). 

I'm very much looking forward to coming back and doing some more exploring.  Until next time, Varenna and Lake Como!

The Bailey Planet

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