Lago di Como

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There is no time like the present. And to make use of the limited time I have here, I’ve made a commitment to myself to go exploring every weekend, at least one day. This Saturday it’s a trip to Varenna and Bellagio on Lake Como.

The temperature is brisk, but in exchange there are no hordes of tourists and that is something to be treasured. I get the 09:20 train to Tirano that takes about an hour to reach the little village of Varenna. It is a beautiful, pastel-coloured village on the side of Lake Como and when I arrive mid-morning, there is hardly a soul around except for a few Italian tourists and an annoying street vendor, who tries to sell you woollen hats when you’re already wearing one and then launches into a lament about needing food for the bambini. He’s on repeat and approaches everyone with the same refrain. Nobody is buying.

I meander through the village, observing the soft and warm colours of the buildings  – not how I feel! I’m grateful for my warm boots and wishing I had put on soft-shell pants instead of jeans. After a walk around and a warm coffee at one of the few open establishments, I decide to take a ferry across to Bellagio, where I suspect there will be more options for lunch. It takes a mere 15 minutes to putter across the lake to famous village of Bellagio. I can’t imagine what the tourist hordes must be like in summer and I’m glad I can experience it in quieter times, even if it must be spectacular in summer.

Bellagio is another pastel-coloured dream, with tall cypress trees and narrow staircases leading up from the waterfront to the piazza. I walk around scouting for a nice place for lunch and eventually settle on a cafe near the waterfront. The sun has finally come out and I take a punt that it will be warm enough soon to enjoy sitting outside. I order a Negroni for aperitivo to be followed by a lasagna. The Negroni arrives with various appetisers and so do the sparrows, intent on securing a few crumbs or more. A couple two tables to the left of me lose part of their sandwich to the intrepid birds. Their size belies their strength and one has to pay close attention to the food on the table to ensure it doesn’t go ‘fly about’.

I bask in the sun for a while, taking in the views and savouring the warmth of the sun. Eventually I move to take the ferry back to Varenna, from where I take the train back to Milano. As the sun gradually sets on Lake Como the colours change to steel-blue greys as the train winds its way along the lake. Approaching Lecco nature treats me to a magnificent alpenglow on the nearby mountains, a fitting finale to a very nice day out.

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