Magical is how I would describe yesterday- we woke to clear skies – no haze! We breakfasted early on the rooftop deck of Albergo Milano – it was a teeny bit chilly, but worth being a bit cool just to experience the clear morning air and stunning vista. The plan was to take a good brisk walk as we have been doing some pretty relaxed strolling. We decided to take the “green path” to Fiumelatte, which is famous for having the world’s shortest river, which when it is active, looks like foam as it flows out into the lake.
The walk began on a paved road way which led up to the most amazing cemetery – the “inhabitants” of which have the most amazing view. We were all blown away by the size of the graves and mausoleums, plus we saw some beautiful icons. Climbing the steep stairs beside the cemetery, we got back onto a dirt track taking us in the direction of Fiumelatte – thankfully it was flat, and quite pretty, like a woodland. We continued on to the river, but there was very little water at the source- not the right season!
We could see the road from where we were and decided to make our way down via the very steep and stony track, which took some negotiating! We found a cafe in the hamlet for a coffee and cake stop and returned to Varenna via the highway. We bypassed the beautiful grounds of the Villa Monastero, verdant with beautiful plants and some stunning cypress trees.
Lunch was at a shady ristorante near our apartment – red gingham table cloths flapped in the breeze while we trawled our way through the very long menu – we are getting used to this now. There is so much choice that sometimes I wish for a just simple menu with only a few dishes to choose from! Having said that, whenever I find a menu with melon and prosciutto I am very happy. The melon is so sweet, as are the tomatoes and herbs- nothing like them. The ristorante was extremely busy – while the town was somewhat quieter than yesterday, nevertheless the food outlets were doing brisk business.
The afternoon’s entertainment was highly anticipated as we returned to the apartment to refresh ourselves. We had a 3pm reservation with a private water taxi company for a one and a half hour tour of the central lake. The afternoon was warm and sunny as we made our way to the jetty. The personable driver was Luca, a tall handsome Italian, whom we discovered had quite a sense of humour. As soon as we sped off, Bocelli came blasting from the taxi’s speakers and continued to play except when Luca was giving his spiel, in rather broken English.
We bypassed many towns, very close to the shore – including Cadenabbia, Tremezzo, Lenno, Sala Comacina (and Isola Copacina), and we gained great views of some luxurious villas including Richard Branson’s, and Villa del Balbianello (used in the filming of Casino Royale and Star Wars). The lake shores are dotted with some fabulous hotels too-the Grand Hotel Tremezzo is stately and elegant, and Bellagio is well served wth the most elegant looking hotels, which we will see today when we take the ferry to the town across the lake.
As we turned back towards Varenna, we passed Fiumelatte and saw the place where the river cascades down into to the lake from its source in the cave above, plus the little cafe where we had our coffee break. Not far from there, we could see the “forever apartments” as Luca described them, the huge cemetery nestled in the hill. It has a commanding view of the lake and looks impressive from the boat. We were glad we had stumbled upon it on our morning walk and had seen for ourselves how stunning it is.
As Luca took us slowly back to Varenna along the lakefront, we could see Villa Monastero and Villa Cipressi – both look equally impressive from the lake as they do looking down on them from the road.
Being on the Lake Como, on a stunning day, with great friends, and a handsome Italian is going to be an outstanding highlight, but there will more to be sure…. one memorable one will be the expensive fine dining meal we had on the terrace of Albergo Milano – not so much because of the food, but because the wind came up and whistled around us, even knocking over a glass of wine on another table – ’twas a little uncomfortable….
Today, Bellagio beckons….meanwhile, the snapshots.