Como & Bellagio

Today’s blog has lots of photos.  Linda thinks too many.  If so, Dave thinks you can skip them.

The morning started early with Dave walking to the ferry station (about 20 minutes away). He bought our tickets to Bellagio. On his return to the Airbnb, he stood to get two take-away cappuccinos. We were quite surprised that they were only €1.50 each.

We headed out on the ferry at 9:10 and arrived in Bellagio at 11:20. We made 13 stops in between.  In addition to the amount of time it took, it started to rain.  Since we were on the top of the boat without umbrellas or raincoats (they were safely secured at the Airbnb), we made our way inside.  Turns out so did lots of other people and we all stood shoulder to shoulder.  Thank goodness everyone did a good job of keeping their masks on.

View into Como from our balcony
Building along Lake Como
Villa along Lake Como
Church along Lake Como
Church along Lake Como
Varenna, Italy
Homes along Lake Como
Homes along Lake Como

When we arrived in Bellagio, it was still raining.  So, we ducked under the portico in front of the various stores along the waterfront.  We thought about buying an umbrella but decided that we’d wait and see what happened with the rain.  Instead, we went into the bar and had Caffe Americanos.  While the rain came down really hard while we drank, by the time we left, the rain had stopped.

Shops portico

We then headed to our reservations at Ristorante la Punta.  This restaurant is on the far north end of the peninsula.  It is said that on a clear day (it wasn’t, obviously), you can see Switzerland.  The view we had was very nice and the food was great.  We shared a first plate of Spaghetti Pomodoro (spaghetti with fresh tomatoes and basil), then had second plates of Char with Sage Leaves sautéed in butter and Fried Perch.  Again, we shared both and they were all excellent.  For dessert we had a plate of mixed cheeses. (Gorgonzola, Parmesan, and two others whose names Dave could not understand).  All four were great, though Dave really like the Parmesan and Linda enjoyed the soft “unnamed” cheese.

Linda at Ristorante la Punta where we had lunch in Bellagio
Dave at Ristorante la Punta
Half an order of spaghetti pomodoro
Deep-fried Lake Perch
Char sauted in butter with sage leaves
Our dessert at Ristorante la Punta four different cheeses and walnuts

We then wandered through the streets of Bellagio.  We were struck by two things.  First, English (both American and British/old colonies) is far more prevalent than in Como, where we rarely hear it.  Second, as a lady at the restaurant said, Bellagio is like a beautiful open-air mall.

Piazza by Cheisa Preposituale di San Giacomo
Altar at Cheisa Preposituale di San Giacomo
Bell tower of Basilica San Giancomo
Side street in Bellagio
Anyone up for a piece of Pizza Americana Ithe one on the right with French fries)

We then took a fast ferry boat back to Como.  This time the hydrofoil boat made only four stops and got us back in 50 minutes.

Our apartment is the building behind the “lone” tree in the center of the picture. Our balcony can be seen directly to the right of the tree.

Next, we took the funicular to Brunate.  While we are glad we did it, between the haziness and crowds on the funicular, it was less than exciting.  We had a drink at the top.  Linda had a Mandarin Spritz and Dave had a Campari Spritz.  Linda really liked her drink.  It took Dave a little effort to get used to the more bitter Campari versus Aperol.

View from Brunate (top of the funicular)
Chiesa di Sant’Andrea Apostolo
Altar in Chiesa di Sant’Andrea Apostolo
Chapel in Chiesa di Sant’Andrea Apostolo
Chiesa di Sant’Andrea Apostolo
Dave in front of olive tree in Brunate

When we returned on the funicular, we went back to the Ox Bar and Restaurant for a drink and aperitivo.  The bartender, Antonio, was really nice.  The aperitivo was much the same as the first night, but Antonio shared with us a meloncello (which was much better than the medicinal tasting version we had in Capri several years ago) and a half margarita with red pepper flakes in it.  The margarita was very spicy and terrific.

Antonio and meloncello and a margarita with red pepper flakes

We then returned to the Airbnb and started to pack to leave Como tomorrow.  While we have enjoyed ourselves and the Lake Como area is beautiful, we are fine with moving on. Andiamo!

First Day in Como … Dave’s planning was a bit aggressive

Last night we went to sleep at about 10:45; this morning we woke up at 7:30 (well, one of us did, but the other slept to about 9:30).  It was good to get the rest.

This is the view we awoke to think morning in our bedroom

Dave had hoped we would be up early to go on the funicular, but he wasn’t really thinking about how we would feel the first day after travel.  Dammit, Dave, we’re on vacation (as thought by Dave).

View from our balcony
Dave seated on our balcony
View from Como waterfront
Linda along Lake Como

Instead, we headed out a little after 11:00 and made our way to a ristorante near the funicular (does that count?).  Linda had a cappuccino, Dave had an Caffe Americano (I thought I’d clarify because when Dave ordered an Americano, the waiter asked “Caffe or the drink?), and an order of cream filled pastry.    It was nice to sit, watch people, and relax.  One of the interesting things was to watch the table next to us get their drink order.  The lady had a Bloody Mary and the gentleman had an espresso and a beer.  Sounds like a great way to start the day.

Cappuccino and pastry

We then head to the Duomo Como (Como Cathedral).  A very nice cathedral.  We were fortunate to arrive near the end of the service and heard some nice music while enjoying looking around.  We stayed through the dismissal, so does that count as attending church today? You can see videos of the church and hear the communion music here and the postlude here.

Roof line and clock tower of Duomo Como
Front of Duomo Como (Como Cathedral)
Duomo Como nave

Next we walked around the city center (Centro Storico).  While we didn’t buy anything other than a postcard to send to Zachary (Linda promised a postcard once a week), we some nice shops.  It’s no Milano, but fashion is clearly important here, too.  We were taken in by a pasta, fungi, and truffle shop.  We need to remember, it’s the first day and we don’t want to carry that around for six weeks. Not to mention, when you only packed two carry-on roll-along suitcases for six weeks, you don’t have any room.

Dried mushrooms, dry pasta, and an assortment of liqueurs

As we continued our walk we came upon a busker. My Asheville friends, this is the busking is done in Como … click here to link to video.

We returned to the waterfront around 1:15 to eat.  The place we wanted to go to, La Vita e Bella, was full.  Linda asked if they would take a reservation/hold a table for us.  They said they would and we returned at 2:30 for our big meal of the day.  We don’t think we can say lunch or dinner because one implies a smaller meal.  Well, this wasn’t the smaller meal.  We had a Rustica Salad to share (green salad mix, bacon, avocado, Tropea’s onion, cherry tomatoes, grilled bread, and basil in a vinaigrette dressing) and two pasta specials for us to share.  One was Ravioli with Scallop and Prawn with soy sauce pesto and drops of Bufala.  The other was Risotto cacao e pepe (cheese with pepper) with shrimp tartar.  All were amazing and we were not able to finish.  I don’t think the waitress thought that ordering three dishes was a good idea, because she didn’t think we’d eat it all.  More specifically, when Linda ordered the salad and ravioli, she said, “That’s too much.  I couldn’t eat it all.”  We planned to leave some no matter what so we didn’t look like pigs, but we really were too full to finish any single dish.

Risotto with cheese and peppers and shrimp tartare. Flakes on top are dried tomatoes and flowers / Rustica salad (green salad mix, bacon, avocado, Tropea’s onion, cherry tomatoes, grilled bread, and basil in a vinaigrette dressing) / Ravioli with scallop and prawn with soy sauce pesto and drops of Bufala and the Mojito and Spritz

We then went back to our humble abode for a little relaxation before heading out, again.

Tonight we walked away from central Como and ran into a few bars/ristorantes that had DJs. W didn’t think we would fit in there, so we continued. We came across a fountain at the end of the road. It kind of reminded us of being in Old Fort.

Kind of reminds you of the Old Fort Geyser, doesn’t it?

We then walked back to the center of Como so we could get some gelato and to try to get tickets for a boat ride to Bellagio tomorrow. The good news is we got our gelato, the bad news is we didn’t get tickets. So, Dave will be heading out to the ticket office first thing in the morning.

Time for gelato. Maybe, Dave can look better the next time he does a selfie.

All in all, it’s been a very good day.

We made it … Frankfurt/Basel/Como

We departed Indian Trail at about 8:45 this morning (9/2) and arrived at the Charlotte airport around 9:30. The person working the TSA Precheck area was great.  At one point, she said, “If you didn’t pay $85, you can’t stand in this line.  Go down to entrance A.”  It was hilarious to me.  What a great attitude.

Our flight to Atlanta left on time at 12:10. Dave realized he was on vacation when he ordered a Bloody Mary at about 11:45 on the plane.  Still hadn’t fully sunk in that we were headed to Italy (after a stop in Germany and Switzerland).  After an uneventful flight to Atlanta, and another Bloody Mary, we arrived a little ahead of schedule.

First Delta Bloody Mary

Our layover in Atlanta was about 4-1/2 hours.  We stayed busy and got in plenty of steps for today.

Our flight to Frankfurt (yes, that’s the German connection from above) started off with a little scare.  There was a delay in boarding due to a mechanical issue with the flight attendant panel.  I guess that is what controls all things in the passenger cabin.  The good news is they got it fixed and the delay was only about 40 minutes.  The flight itself was uneventful and we arrived in Frankfurt as late as we started.

From there we cleared immigration and customs quickly and took off to find the train station for our train ride to Basel. We had a little time to visit what felt like a nice Dollar store, based upon prices, and a grocery store.  It was all we could do to not buy all the Haribo Gummi items and other cheaply priced products.  Thank goodness we don’t have any space for things.

The Deutsche Bahn train from Frankfurt to Basel was disappointing. When we got on the train there were a lot of people standing.  Seemed odd in a first-class car, but we were just boarding.  As Linda looked for our seat, there were no seats 91 & 92.  While talking with the car conductor, he told us they had a shortened car today, so we should just sit anywhere, if we could find a seat.  Linda and I got lucky and found two seats, but not together.  We got on the Wi-Fi and said to e-mail if a seat opened near the other.  Fortunately, a seat open by Linda in the quiet part of the car (there were eight seats designated in a walled off section as quiet seats). The car conductor said we could get hold of Deutsche Bahn and get a refund.  We’ll see.

Linda by Deutsche Bahn train
Linda in front of Deutsche Bahn train

We changed trains in Basel to a car where there were only five of us on this car.  What a difference.  The views through Switzerland and into Italy were stunning.  It was absolutely wonderful.  This was truly what we expected out of a first-class car.  Very comfortable seats and even a “waiter” serving food to people.  He did get our beer for us. 

For some reason, we were delayed at the station ahead of Como.  They talked about passport control, but no one checked us.  It may have been a crew change based upon one announcement.

We arrived at the Como San Giovanni train station about 15 minutes late and called for a taxi.  He took us near our Airbnb.  We set out on foot in the pedestrian area.  Dave got us a little lost, but we recovered.  The Airbnb is small, but nice.  We anticipate a magnificent view, but that will be in tomorrow’s blog, since it is dark out now.

We took a short walk down to the lake and what must be pizzeria row.  There were innumerable bar/grille/pizzerias lined over a three-block area.  We picked the one closest to our Airbnb.  Their outside seating was full, but we could get a table in about 15 minutes or sit inside.  It was too nice of a night (yes, it was about 8:45pm) to sit inside, so we waited.  Well, we went inside for a glass of wine and an Aperol spritz.  We also got an aperitivo board (and a €4 cover charge … maybe we would have gotten that anyhow).  We ordered spaghetti carbonara and a Regina pizza (San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella of Agerola, and basil) to share.  We both thought the carbonara was oversalty and the pasta certainly was al dente, but good.  The pizza, while short on the basil, was excellent.  We took some home and we’ll see if we find a time to snack on it.

White wine, Aperol spritz, and aperitivo at Ox Ristorante

[ Lemon sorbet and two glasses of complimentary limoncello[/caption]


Part of pizzeria row

We did a short walk by the lake and then headed home.  A quick shower and then it was time for bed.

Tomorrow we will do some exploring around the area.