I’m in love, and her name is Lake Como. My love for Italy has deepened, which I didn’t think was possible, thanks to the breathless beauty of Lake Como.
From Paris, we flew into Milano and hired a little Citroen C1 (no Fiat 500s were available much to our disappointment) from Rental Cars – Sicily by Car, and drove 1 hour and 15 minutes to Mezzegra, towards Menaggio. Until we turned off the main autostrada the A8, the drive was fine. As we reached Lake Como and drove along the lakeside road, the drive became hairy. Houses and buildings are built right to the narrow road, corners are blind, and there is no room for error. Zorba did a brilliant job staying driving and stayed calm. Me on the otherhand – put it this way, I had no fingernails left by the time we reach our villa.
Our accommodation, Villa Simona, was booked through La Breva quite last minute. As a result, we were offered a discount. Four nights cost us 820 euro or about A$1200. The full price would have been 1240 euro (A$1690), which would’ve made it unaffordable for our budget. The villa was magic. Brand new, two bedrooms, two balconies offering breathtaking views of Lake Como and the alps, and there was a pool in the complex (shared with five other villas). We wanted to live there and never, ever leave. It was comfortable, secure, clean, modern, and well appointed. The kitchen was equipped as if someone actually lived there.
The location is one of the best things about Villa Simona. We could walk about 15 minutes down incredibly steep hills to the cute township of Lenno. The walk home was a killer and took twice as long. Talk about feeling the burn in my hamstrings, glutes and calves. Still, it meant my guilt for eating was at an all time low. Lenno has about four restaurants, a café / bar, a gelataria, two churches, and not much else. There are supermarkets outside the old town. The best thing is that Lenno is serviced regularly by the Lake Como ferry service.
The bathroom configuration was a little strange – the main bathroom upstairs where the bedrooms are had a gorgeous claw-foot bath, but no shower (just an attachment), and the other bathroom downstairs where the washing machine was (so good to have a washing machine), had a terrific rain shower that leaked a little, leaving pools of water on the floor. Lucky we had a few extra hand towels to mop it up. And disappointingly the wifi that was promised did not work. Thank God we were able to buy a sim card for the iPad. Small criticisms on a place that I would love to call home – it was that lovely.
From Lenno, we bought an all-day ferry pass for 15 euro each. Lake Como is shaped like an upside down “Y”. The famous town of Bellagio is at the junction and has lake views on both sides of it. Lenno, where we were based, is on the eastern arm of the “Y” and on a clear day, we could see Bellagio from our balcony.
The ferry day pass was excellent because it negated the need to queue for tickets each time we wanted to move to the next town. Our first stop was Bellagio – where I was looking for George Clooney, and Zorba was looking for a good place for lunch. Instead, he found a barbershop and made me go in and ask if he could have a haircut. His stylist, Daniele, did a great job for 15 euro, but best of all, he gave us a great restaurant recommendation, La Fontana, one that met our criteria of great food, off the tourist track, and was reasonably priced. Because we wanted to have dinner in the town of Lenno, we decided to have a one-course lunch at La Fontana. It was so good that we caught the ferry back to Bellagio two days later just so we could have lunch there again. You can read about that in my next post.
It only took us about 25 minutes to reach Bellagio, a stunning town. It’s so small you can hardly believe that a superstar like George Clooney would have a house there. The lakeside promenade is dotted with pots of colourful flowers that look so pretty against the backdrop of the lake and the glacier topped alps. It’s a lovely walk. Narrow cobbled stone lane ways step upwards from the lake to the main piazza to Bellagio’s 14th Century Gothic Duomo. The streets are tight, and when a car approaches, albeit at snail’s pace, tourists have no choice but to jump into shop doorways.
From Bellagio, we caught the ferry to Varenna, another gorgeous lake side town that has a magnificent church and bell tower. The memory of the church bells ringing as we watched them sway from side to side is etched in our memory. It was a magnificent moment. Varenna has a beautiful We bought a gelato and sat on a bench by the lake. I had to tip my toes into Lake Como – it was fresh but not freezing.
After some time in Varenna, we caught the ferry to Menaggio. It sounds a lot like Bellagio, so the ferry-men exaggerate the pronunciation as they call it out, which is pretty funny.
We weren’t overly impressed with Menaggio. Once off the ferry, we couldn’t walk along a lakeside promenade because there isn’t one there. A couple of posh-o hotels are situated right on the lake, so we had to walk behind them on the road. I didn’t like that very much…but would probably feel differently if I was one of the hotel guests. I did duck into one to use the bathroom and it resembled a Vogue Living photoshoot – pastel coloured leather chesterfield arm chairs complemented the soft colourings of the carpet, curtains and cushions, while expensive looking coffee tables and buffets topped with large vases filled with fresh flowers made me have accommodation envy for just a moment. Then I walked through the pool area to find the ladies room and saw all the old American and German guests laying by the pool and instantly felt a whole lot better having our own private villa.
Speaking of Germans, our neighbours were Germans – they owned one of the other villas and spend their holidays there. The loveliest friendliest three-generational family we’ve met.
We walked to the pretty main piazza in Menaggio, which was flanked with bars and restaurants full of tourists drinking cool beers or glasses or wine. We thought about joining them but decided to take our weary bodies home. We were staying in a lovely little town and had a stunning villa with a postcard view waiting for us.
Mezzegra (near Lenno), Lake Como
Cost: 265 euro per day, sleeps 4
Rental Cars – Sicily by Car
Our small class Citroen C1 cost for four days cost A$215.
Tip: book the smallest car you can, the roads are very narrow.
via Centrale 7, Bellagio
Tel: +39 031950283
Gestione Navigazion Laghi di Como – ticket offices at each stop
15 euro for all day pass