I am writing to you from Florence, stealing a quick 30 minutes at the computer in my hostel as I sip a cafe latte. So far, Hillary and I have only spent 3 full days in Italy, and already have accumulated a months worth of memories. I simply love this country. Its food, its people, its pace, attitude – all seem to suit me so pleasantly.
I flew to Milan this past Sunday from Krakow, Poland where Id spent a week visiting with my parents and Polish family. It was a lovely week, and I was looking forward to the second part of my European adventure. The flight got in late, and after only initial jitters at being in a foreign country, where I don’t speak the language-don’t know anyone, I managed to locate the train station and bought my ticket to Como, on the south shores of Lake Como. I was going to have to change trains in Sorenno.
All went without a hitch, except for traipsing around a deserted town (it was only 9pm!) looking for a place to buy water and sustenance in Sorenno (eventually I found a woman closing a kiosk who literally got me a glass of water from her tap!!) and I arrived in Como around 10pm. I waited for the bus for 20 minutes or so before deciding on a cab, since it was a Sunday. Expecting to find Hillary waiting for me on arrival at our Hostel, I was dismayed to learn she hadn’t arrived yet. (She eventually made it around 11:30pm after a harrowing train adventure!) I showered, organized, and awaited Hilliary’s arrival.
The next day found us both very excited to explore the very famous Lake Como, that Id been wanting to visit for many years, but especially after watching Casino Royale which had been filmed here. It did not disappoint.
Hillary and I caused a local stir as we wheeled our bags the 1km or so to the ferry dock. Inadvertently and coincidentally, she and I had the exact same rolling-carryable backpacks from REI, just in different colors. We want to believe that that is why most locals stared and-or spoke to us as we walked!
We caught the two hour ferry boat to Menaggio, a little town that had been recommended to me by my friend, Cindy (thanks, Cindy!). We sat lazily in the sun, enjoying the views, and overhearing the beautiful melodic sounds of people speaking in Italian. The water was a beautiful translucent green, the weather was completely perfect, and we both joked and guessed which of the stunning waterfront villas we passed belonged to George Clooney? Upon arrival, we noticed our hostel just up the street from the ferry dock and made our way up the steep hill. The hostel was closed, and not wanting to haul our luggage all day, we conveniently stowed it in a laundry room, and headed back into the village to find the perfect Lake Como lunch.
And we did. Italy never fails to satisfy culinary desires. We ordered a mozzarella, basil, tomato salad and a pizza, sitting in the open air cafe overlooking the water without a care in the world. It was straight out of a movie.
Upon settling into our Vino Blanco, we were joined by some gregarious English-Polish travellers who were lots of fun to converse with. Ben, only 24, owned a house in Menaggio (to which, I obviously questioned “Does that come with a boat?”) and lived in Tanzania. They promised to call us later to partake in some social revelry, especially since everything in town closed around 9pm.
Hillary and I headed back to the boat pier and took the 15 minute trip across the lake to the famous village of Bellagio. This village was the inspiration for the famous Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas, incidentally. We had a gloriously lazy afternoon, strolling its narrow cobbled streets, climbing its winding stairs and alleys, looking at its shops of silk, jewelry and leather, and of course, eating more food. Every corner turned revealed another postcard perfect scene.
Heading back to Menaggio, we checked into the hostel and then wandered back to town for dinner(Hillary and I both agree that we could eat literally the entire day away here. The food is that good). Settling into two heaping plates of steaming pasta, insalata mixta, and vino rosso de la casa, we were happy bunnies. The rest of the evening was spent strolling along a moonlit lake that begged for romance, kissing, and hand holding. Alas, Hillary and I had to make do with one another (for company, that is, not kissing). Calling it an early night (Hill was still a bit jet lagged), we crashed into our dorm room beds, full of excitement at the prospect of tomorrow’s adventures.