Friday, February 10, 2012

Lake Como Part Two: Como

For those of you who haven’t already read “Lake Como Part One” from my February 5th blog , I visited Lake Como this summer accompanied by my boyfriend Luca. We spent the first few days discovering Varenna (where our hotel was located) and neighbouring Bellagio before deciding to take a journey to the city of Como.

I was especially interested in the little town of Brunate, which is located in the hills above Como. I had read prior to visiting Lake Como that the views of the lake from Brunate are spectacular and that riding in the cable car that takes you to the town is an experience in itself.

Luca and I decided to take the ferry to Como, rather than riding the train. There were two options; the high-speed ferry or the regular ferry. I had noticed several high-speed ferries while we were in Bellagio and at first labelled them as “runaway ferries” because they literally looked like they were out of control and even rose partially out of the water while rocketing to their various destinations. The only word that I can use to describe these ferries is epic, absolutely epic!

While parts of us longed for speed, Luca and I opted to take the regular ferry, partially because the price was significantly lower but mostly because we both wanted a long, relaxing boat ride with a good view of some of Lake Como’s most beautiful villas. The journey to Como was approximately four hours long, but you can never tire of the fabulous mountains and buildings all around you. Aside from passing several picturesque small towns that were located off the beaten track, we were able to see Villa Balbianello. The Lenno villa was made famous after it appeared in the film Star Wars: Episode II starring Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen. Pictures really do not do it justice and it is absolutely breathtaking when you are able to see it in person. 

As the ferry approached Como, the waters changed from being calm and serene to choppy and bustling with activity. It was also obvious from the colour of the water, which became murkier, that we were entering the realm of a city. Como is magnificent when approaching by boat, especially because everything else in the area is so small. You can recognise the city’s large duomo instantly looming on the horizon and the surrounding mountains are full of houses.

Once our ferry docked, Luca and I immediately set out to find the cable car, or funicolare as it is known in Italian, to Brunate. Luckily there were plenty of signs to point us in the right direction and a steady flow of tourists seemed to be following the same route that we were. It is impossible to miss the quirky wooden building where you can purchase your tickets and wait for the arrival of the next cable car. Unfortunately on this particular day, the cable car was out of service. Apparently the sweltering August heat had forced the whole system to shut down and as a result many disappointed travellers were left wandering around aimlessly outside the building. Luca and I decided to make the most out of our time in Como and explore the city.

It was insanely hot on that particular day and I recall that after stopping for lunch, the entire backside of my khakis were coated in sweat, making it appear as though I had wet myself like a small child! Despite the oppressive heat, which made us both want to lounge around like a pair of bearded dragons, Luca and I persevered slowly and managed to see the sites of Como. The nicest of these sites was the duomo, which was surrounded by several lovely old cafes. Both tourists and locals mingled here as everyone tired to escape the August sun. Much to Luca’s delight, there was also a Formula 1 model shop located down one of the city’s winding allies and we spent several minutes observing the displays while soaking up some much-needed air conditioning.

As the day neared to a close, we elected to make our way back to our hotel and ventured to the ferry stop to have a look at the timetable. Much to our surprise, the last ferry to Varenna was just about to leave and it was, indeed, one of the runaway ferries that I had first observed in Bellagio.

The high speed ferry was built much differently than the regular ferry. It consisted of two decks which were both enclosed, presumably to prevent passengers from falling into the lake as the ferry takes flight. There was to be no leisurely drinking of coffee or taking of photos on this ride, our journey on the high speed ferry was set to be more like a rocket launch than a boat tour! As Luca and I took our seats on the bottom deck, we excitedly braced ourselves for take off.

At first, there seemed to be no real difference between the regular ferry and the high speed ferry, other than the very poor view but soon we heard the engine get ever louder as the vessel approached maximum velocity. Before we knew it, the front of the ferry was out of the water, creating waves outside of our window and we were motoring from town to town! You really get the feeling of speed riding on a high speed ferry and I couldn’t help but laugh as various boats were forced to quickly move aside as this nautical monster approached! Come to think of it, the whole thing is a bit of a disaster waiting to happen, but we still had fun!

Once we were safely back in Varenna, Luca and I enjoyed an evening spent by the water, eating beautiful food and listening to live music at one of the local restaurants. As we sipped on cocktails and enjoyed the cooler evening temperature, we couldn’t imagine a more relaxing place to be than Lake Como.

To be continued…

Be sure to keep checking my blog if you want to know more about Lake Como as I plan on writing about Bellano in the next few days.


  1. sounds nice. We knew someone who went to Lake Como every summer for a month. She loved it so much she planned to move there when she retired. I don't know what happened to her and hope she was able to live out her dream.

  2. When you find out, please forward me her address. I will be there with my suitcase within 24 hours! ;-)

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