Ed’s European Road Trip – Finale

Final Entry – Lake Como. We are now at the end of our fantastic European Road Trip. One week ago, we checked into our villa (Prima Isola) overlooking the beautiful Lake Como.

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The peach coloured house higher up

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We met up with Dick and Julie who are family of Don and Diane’s and the 6 of spent an amazing week exploring this gorgeous part of Northern Italy. It is probably more interesting to share some of the really wonderful Italian towns that dot the coast of this large lake.

Bellagio – Of course everyone knows the name from the infamous hotel on the Las Vegas stip. This town is nothing like that! Instead, it is made up of quaint, narrow roads that spread out from the main waterfront dock where ferries make their way to and from several other historic villages. Our ferry took us from the town of Cadenabbia directly to Bellagio. Since we are staying in the small town of Ossaccio, we have to traverse the small, narrow, winding roads from our villa to the ferry points. It is a really tight squeeze as buses and large trucks also use these roads!

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Bellagio is a very picturesque town that is mostly pedestrian only and filled with shop after shop of locally made items, particularly silk scarves that are made in Como. We were on a mission that day to buy a suitable birthday trip for our friend Diane and we wanted something to remind her of her birthday trip to Italy. So many choices, we hope she likes the one we picked!

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We found this great little wine bar that we thought we would have a glass and a little snack, but it had such great atmosphere and the little snack of meat and cheese we ordered for 3 was more than enough for the 6 of us. We stayed a little longer!

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Como – Saturday is market day in Como and a perfect way to kick off Diane’s birthday. We took the hydrofoil from Lenno to Como and spent the day kicking around the town and doing some shopping. Como is a pretty good size and not nearly as quaint as the other villages in the area. However, if you want to do some shopping, being this close to the fashion mecca of Milan, means there are many choices to look for those chic fashion trends.
The ladies wanted to go to a silk museum because Como is famous for it’s silk products, so after finding the museum, the men scouted for a refreshment while the ladies enjoyed the tour.

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The big news of the day though was the celebration of Diane’s birthday. Don had made reservations at the famous restaurant Locanda di Isola Comacina. It’s 7 course set menu has been the same for over 40 years and since it’s on an island the only way to get there is by boat. The big surprise was that Don had arranged for a water taxi to take us on a tour around a part of the lake before depositing us off at the restaurant. Great fun, including the Prosecco that was on ice for us on the boat.

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Richard Branson’s Villa

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The meal was fantastic (70 Euro each) and a wonderful celebration!

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Varenna – an attractive village on the eastern shore of Lake Como, looking over the central part of the lake towards Bellagio, it’s picturesque lanes and old fishermen’s houses are unpretentiously appealing, and we preferred the town to its grander neighbours. The pretty waterfront and tiny stone beach has somehow a more authentic air than the other areas.

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One of the main tourist activities in Varenna is visiting the gardens of Villa Monastero and the villa itself. We happened to be there on a day when it was free…bonus! It was an exceptional visit and well worth even paying for it.

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Way up high on the hillside we spotted an old castle ruin which attracts a number of people to it. The hike up was quite steep and a good work out. The end result was worth the exertion as the castle ruins are quite well maintained and we were able to climb the tower for some spectacular views of the lake. I must say that pictures do not do justice to the views we have anytime we look at on Lake Como.

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Menaggio – a little larger than either Bellagio and Varenna, it does not have the quiet charm of the those fishing villages. It does however have a good selection of restaurants, shops and a lovely piazza! Right on the water, it was certainly worth the investment of our time!

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The weather this week has been fantastic, with only 1 day of rain and that allowed us to get some laundry done and some time with our noses in a book. What I haven’t told you about was the hiking trails and the paths through ancient old streets filled with stonehouses and churches, the hundreds of great little restaurants and bars and the friendly people always willing to greet you with buongiorno!

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We also haven’t suffered on the food and wine side either! Fantastic pasta, parma, prosciutto and cheeses washed down with local wines…yum. Alas, we saw neither George Clooney nor Richard Branson both of whom have villas nearby.

What a great trip it has been with Don, Diane, Dick and Julie. Memories that will last a lifetime! As we head back home tomorrow morning, Ciao from Lake Como!

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