Sunday, September 17, 2006

Lake Como - Heaven on Earth

1. Leaving Verona – was that a left or a right at the alley?
2. Loafing at 80 per near Brescia
3. Lake Como, paradise on earth
4. The Villa Cipressi
5. Varenna’s tiny harbor and the Albergo Olivedo
6. Leaving Varenna for Bellagio
7. A lakeside lunch in Bellagio
8. A moonlight dinner at the Villa Cipressi
9. Breakfast on the terrace
10. Peeking out the hotel window
Heaven On Earth – Lake Como
My new favorite place in the world. Lake Como is filled with 19th century villas, lanterns in the moonlight, snowcapped mountains reaching for the sky, hanging wisteria and romantic little lakeside restaurants that are just perfect for a dreamy nightcap. With a desire to spend as much time out of the car as we were doing in, we set the navs for Varenna, a drive of 108 miles.

Varenna, a small lakeside hamlet, made a great base to explore the Como area. Its got a tiny little harbor, a romantic lakeside promenade and is just a ferry ride away from Bellagio, one of the prettiest towns in Europe. Our first choice for a hotel, the Albergo Olivedo, was filled up a long time ago and we wound up in the Villa Cipressi, a sprawling, centuries old lakeside mansion set in huge terraced garden. It was a fantastic old place where we had dinner in the moonlight and breakfast on a roof top terrace with a great view of the lake. In the evening we walked back down to the harbor and the Olivedo for a fantastic nightcap and a visit with Laura, the owner who in the midst of serving us double cognacs, advised us that if we were looking for rooms in September, we should have reserved in May. We marked it down for a future visit.

I should mention that the road to Varenna was not the nightmare that everyone writes about but parking certainly was. We wound up parking about a mile away from the hotel on the public road and worried all night about the safety of the cars. Thankfully it wasn’t a problem other than the long, healthy walk to the cars.

During the day we took the ferry over to Bellagio where we kept on the lookout for George Clooney who is rumored to have a villa in the area. Failing to find George, the girls power shopped while the guys soaked up the atmosphere. Andy and Julie were ecstatic to learn that Lufthansa had located their luggage and agreed to send it on to Kings Hotel in Munic where they would pick it up in time to carry back on to the aircraft (giving LH another shot at losing it). Tomorrow—Tuscany.

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