When I was a boy there was a picture in our home that always intrigued me. It pictured an upscale villa on a lake with a very much European flavor. I eventually learned it pictured a scene from the "lake" district of northern Italy/southern Switzerland. Wow! I wanted to go there and experience that for myself. Well, I did!
Understand that much I admire about Lake Como is beyond my reach; after all it is a very upscale resort area. The town of Bellagio on Lake Como inspired a luxury hotel in Las Vegas. But maybe, just maybe some of that might rub off? I think maybe it did.
I selected a hotel in the town of Brunate which sits high on a hill overlooking the city of Como. On arrival I feared I had made a huge mistake as I had no idea how to get to Brunate. Our taxi driver solved that for us in a hurry. He drove us to a funicular that quickly whisked us a thousand feet up the near vertical mountainside. At the top a kind lady noticed what a sorry twosome we were (we were both burdened with suitcases, lost, and limping) and called our hotel; within five minutes the hotel owner appeared and personally carried my wife's bags down the street to the quaint hotel, Locarno Milano. This was the beginning of a fantastic three days on this beautiful lake.
Brunate is a great little village in its own right. It owns a five-star view of the city of Como; at night it's quite spectacular. In the distance one can see the looming snow covered Alps that divide Italy from Switzerland. The ride up and down on the funicular is an "A" ticket at Disneyland. Life in Brunate seemed very laid back. The street that ran past the hotel was a narrow roadway, but busy. That didn't stop truck drivers from stopping right in the middle of the road and running into the little bar attached to the hotel for a shot of espresso in the morning. I never did understand what traffic behind them did; the road wasn't wide enough to get around them. I think they just patiently waited for the driver to return and drive off. That sure wouldn't have "washed" in California. The folks running the hotel couldn't have been nicer. At the end of our stay the owner personally drove us to the train station...door to door service. If you ever travel to Lake Como I highly recommend the Locarno Milano. It's small, but clean, the food is great, it's convenient, and the people are superb hosts.
But then there's the Lake. This is a gorgeous lake, just like the picture in my boyhood home. The best way to get around is by boat on one of the quaint and unique boats that ply the lake. We took a boat to Bellagio, an easy day trip from Como. On the way one passes by beautiful little villages where one can leave the boat and spend a few minutes exploring then catching another boat to wherever one's destination on the lake happens to be. There is much to see in these villages, especially if one is into architecture and photography. I'm sure shoppers could find bargains as well. As we passed the many villages that lined the lake we saw some extraordinary estates...I don't know what else to call them. These were obviously owned by the rich and famous. At the far end of our boat ride we arrived in Bellagio, an obvious destination for most. This town was alive with tourists; it would be a perfect getaway for a few days but would no doubt lighten one's wallet substantially. Believe me, its namesake in Vegas has no monopoly on elegance. We were satisfied with walking its picturesque streets and enjoying a great lunch before catching our boat back to Como.
As I edited the images in this portfolio I was transported back to relive the incredible experience of Lago di Como. There are many great places to see and things to do in Italy, but in my opinion Lake Como is about as upscale as it gets. It's worth a visit whether you're into photography or not.