Lago di Como: A Lakeside Paradise 🇮🇹
Fact is indeed stranger than fiction. I had never imagined that a region was built entirely around a lake, until I have set foot on Como, a province in the extreme northern side of Italy.
Como Province is abutting the Swiss border, making it distinct from the rest of Italy. It already felt like an entirely different nation, and the Swiss Alps are already visible on this part of the country.
Before making it to Lake Como, I absolutely had no idea what it would be like. My sister prepared all of the itinerary and she single-handedly selected all our destinations, without any help or even discretion from me (I just wanted to be surprised 🤷🏼♂️).
En Route to Lake Como via Milan
Like the day before, we were still staying at Arles Hotel in Milan. But this time, we're going to transfer to another hotel so we packed our bags and went to Milano Centrale to hopefully catch the train to Como City. Unfortunately, there was strike so none of the trains arrived. But there are many ways to reach a destination so we decided to hail a taxi cab. It was so much more expensive but, thankfully, it was still within budget.
The taxi ride gave us a different vantage point of the Italian countryside. The roads are certainly more organized and of better quality than the ones we have in the Philippines. I saw how it was literally stress-free and traffic-free. The best part was the honesty of the taxi driver and, no matter how difficult it may be or how narrow the roads get, he had no complaint bringing us to a random part of the country.
A Lake Shaped By the Mountains
|View from the taxi.
On our way to Pianello del Lario, our destination, we saw towering mountains plunging into the lake. Pianello is on the northern part of Lake Como, and Milan, where we departed from, was several kilometers to the south, so we saw glimpses of the lake even before reaching our destination. Lake Como has several communes (municipalities), some of which are exhibited in this article.
As you can see, the lake has an irregular, elongated shape that resembles an inverted "Y." While it looks strange on maps, Lake Como is in fact a textbook definition of what it means to be "picturesque." Indeed, I yielded to hundreds of temptations to take snapshots of the many scenic sights around the lake.
The place we stayed in for the next three days can be found on Pianello del Lario, one of the smallest towns of Lake Como. Its remote location and rural setting makes it an idyllic town. Nestled in the northern side of Lake Como, it is very near the Swiss border.
Life in Pianello is rather simple. Only a thousand people live in this small town. You can see small ducks wading at the lake, no worries, no stress. Life goes on as though this is eternity, or the highest form of domestic contentment there could ever be...
Nightlife in Pianello
You wouldn't expect it, but there's actually nightlife in this small town, and when I say "nightlife," it isn't something you will see at a quintessential barrio. This bar at Pianello has all the modernities of a club plucked out of a metropolitan city, pinned down at a random, remote and rural town. But who gives? After all, the views from Pianello are splendid...
Does the town hold some conservative traditions? Maybe, but this sign is a liberating piece of artwork telling everyone to go crazy every once in a while. Don't worry about the small-town gossips, what happens inside the bar stays in the bar!
|Obligatory Selfie with my sister and my aunt.
|Working at the bar must be awesome...
Musso, Music to My Ears
I needed to buy sandals because, by this time, my feet hurt from the rubber shoes I've been wearing since departure from the Philippines. Since there were no shops in Pianello, I was told to buy sandals from nearby Dongo. Locals say "nearby" when they actually mean "an hour of walking." 🤷🏼♂️
In between Pianello and Dongo was another small town, Musso. Like every small town and city in Lake Como and probably the entire Italy, Musso was scenic. Mountains on one side, the lake on the other, and in between were small villas peppered with willows and pencil pines. Lovely.
I only passed by, walked by Musso, but every local I encounter greet me with "Buon Giorno." This is a small town indeed where people are all smiles even to foreign strangers.
Doin' Good in Dongo
Believe me. When they say "nearby," they mean "an hour of walking." After so many splendid, instagrammable sights and some nice, friendly locals greeting you, I finally made it to Dongo. It doesn't matter if it was far for my taste, a tourist will always appreciate something new.
Clear blue skies, serene blue lake, and verdant mountains spell "ethereal" to me. Like everything you will see at Lake Como, Dongo was stereotypically "idyllic." Everything is much the same elsewhere in this region, but the uniformity, the sameness, while it would usually be banal or trite, is beautiful in this side of the world. Much appreciation.
Everything is clean at Dongo. Even the rivers were tidy and fresh, like this refreshing scene at the outskirts of the town. If I say I will come back, I will, but Dongo is an off-the-beaten destination. I was there only to buy sandals. The probability of a next time is almost nil. If I ever come back, that would be strange. Nevertheless, Dongo is a "beauty" and I'm glad I did this detour.
The villages of Lake Como glow in bright colors. This lakeside province is filled with so many idyllic and scenic resort towns. A cruise visiting these various communes magically takes away all the stressors and toxins of your body, replacing them with happy hormones.
Varenna is one town we would love to visit, but unfortunately, we ran out of time. All I could ever do was take photos of this town while our ship was drifting away. A few shots were all it took to immortalize brief glimpses of the town...
Out of all the communes we visited, Bellagio was the most radiant. Its buildings were smothered with bright yellow, baby pink, and pastel orange colors, giving the small city its striking luster.
It is nearly impossible to deselect a picture. The bright colors amazed me as I have never been to a city where most of the buildings glow in yellow. When it comes to planning, I like uniformity, not the haphazard type we see here in the Philippines.
Basilica San Giacomo
One of the main tourist attractions at Bellagio is the Basilica San Giacomo. Built towards the end of the 11th Century, this basilica is almost a thousand years old. Originally designed in Romanesque architectural style, it was reconstructed to give it Baroque appearance in the 17th Century. Fortunately, it was restored back to its original Romanesque form in the 20th Century.
The altar retablo was smothered in gold, but the walls were covered with coal black, allowing the glittery gold to shine resplendently.
Bellagio is a city of boutiques. Its narrow cobbled streets were peppered with small shops and boutiques selling luxurious items. The city's name has become a trademark. The fact that certain items were made in Bellagio adds value and worth to the products.
|Of course, Pinocchio should be sold in Bellagio.
|Marina Strommer, the manager of one of the boutiques, became a friend of mine due to her sense of humor.
Cruisin' in Lake Como
Cruising in Lake Como should be part of one's itinerary. While traveling, you will see many idyllic and scenic sights of the various communes and villages around Lake Como.
At the southern end of Lake Como was the eponymous Como City, the capital of the province. Our arrival at Como City on September 8th was the end of this particular juncture, and we were off to our next destination...