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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Northern Italy Part 1: Lake Como

Last October, we took a trip to Milan and Lake Como, about an hour north of Milan.  We stayed in Varenna, a teeny town of houses, restaurants, and shops wedged in between the lake and the mountains.  As we drove up, we were greeted by a view across the lake, and up to a snow-dusted mountaintop.  Another small lake town, Menaggio, can be seen at the base of the mountain.

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Since it was the off season, there were times it seemed like we had the place to ourselves, but right around dinner time, it was lively enough.  This is one of a whole group of lakeside cafes in the mid-afternoon, just after a light rain.  We later had dinner at a lovely spot like this. We could hear the waves sloshing against the rocks while we ate.


On one end of Varenna is the Villa Monastero, just a short walk from our hotel.  The villa has a strip of land right along the lakeshore, with beautiful gardens and an unobstructed view.  We spent over an hour just wandering the gardens.




While wandering through the gardens, we could look out across the lake and watch the sun try to break through the clouds.  


We were the only people in the garden most of the time we were there, which made it especially therapeutic.  The sky and the lake was a constantly shifting tableau of blues, grays, and whites.  


Our hotel suggested we walk up to the old castle at the top of the hill behind the town.  It was a longer walk up than I expected, but the views got better as we went up.  This was the view looking north.  The mountains are part of the Alps, and very close to the Swiss border.


This was the view looking south, from the gardens of the castle.  It was a great view, but those clouds in the distance were a storm coming right toward us, and we had a long walk back down to town.  So, we practically ran down the hill, and made it back to the hotel cafe just as it started raining.  We really enjoyed sitting at the hotel cafe, listening to the rain, sipping our cappuccinos, and watching the ferries on the lake. 


The mountains looked even better the next morning, with the sun at a low angle bringing them into sharp relief.


My previous posts were all about our trip to the west coast of Ireland, where we saw spectacular cliffs, more great cliffs, and got a personal introduction to a dolphin.  Coming up next, a brief tour of the recently renovated, world-class cathedral of Milan.

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