As is the custom in Italy, our hotel accommodation came complete with breakfast included. (Hotel Spadari even includes a mini bar that is restocked everyday – you can take your pick of any non-alcoholic drink from the bar, as much as you want, free. How cool is that?) The breakfast spread was very generous. We were asked to order our eggs however way we wanted it, and there was endless supply of cold meats, cheese, bacon, pastries, fruits… and the coffee was good. I love my Italian coffee!
We were going to spend our entire day at the lakes so we were keen to get started early. I had looked up the train schedule during my planning process so we got to the Centrale station with time to spare. We took a train out to Varenna, which took about an hour. Varenna is a tiny little town located pretty much around where Lake Como splits into a ‘Y’. After disembarking the train, I decided to make a toilet stop. Imagine my horror when I found that the ‘toilet’ was a hole in the ground. Brandon thought it was hilarious but I was quite disgusted that a so-called touristy area would have such primitive facilities.
We took a slow stroll down to the waterfront to catch a ferry to Bellagio. The background was lovely. You could see houses built all along the hill, going up into the mountain. Sadly, the weather was not very agreeable that day. The sky was overcast and it started raining on our way to Bellagio. The lake was beautiful enough but I don’t think we saw it at its best.
By the time we got to Bellagio, the rain was falling down in earnest. We scurried along the waterfront as quickly as we could. I again cursed the fact that we didn’t bring an umbrella with us. Even in our haste, we noticed the trendy restaurants and cafes that lined the waterfront. I loved Bellagio. Even in the rain, there was a feeling of ‘la dolce vita’ which permeated the air. I loved the narrow streets that snaked its way up the hill, lined on both sides with shops that sold everything from clothes, to souvenirs, to homewares. The shops were intriguing and we were tempted more than once to add to our already almost overweight mountain of luggage.
I had read a lot about the silk from Como and was anxious to purchase some items to take home. Como is world famous for its silk manufacture and the silk produced here is superior to the cheap ones produced in China. So I was thrilled when we stumbled across a silk shop called Azalea. (For those of you who decide to go looking for this shop, there are two shops named Azalea – one clearly superior to the other. This is that shop). This shop stocks scarves and ties all made from Como silk, some of them handmade. They also had a huge range from Missoni and Versace. We spent over an hour in that shop and ended up with two bagfuls of goodies, many of them gifts and souvenirs for the family. The quality of their stock was quite impressive.
The rain eventually stopped and a found a cute little restaurant called L‘Antico Pozzo for lunch. We managed to get a table in the courtyard and we were lucky because a few customers that came in after us had to wait for tables. The restaurant was very busy but our server was friendly and pleasant enough. The food was surprisingly quite good – basic but good home-style Italian cooking (which we love). I had pasta and it was quite delicious. The price was surprisingly reasonable too. It was a very lovely lunch. I thought it was quite paradoxical to find great food, at a reasonable price, right in the middle of Bellagio.
After lunch, we wandered around a bit more, trying to find this clearance outlet for leather goods that I saw advertised everywhere we went. Try as hard as we might, it eluded us. Giving up, we decided to head down to Como. We checked the ferry timetable and bought our tickets. With half an hour to kill, we decided to walk along the waterfront, which was when I saw a sign directing visitors to the outlet we had been trying to find. Brandon thought we should go in for a quick look, but I thought it was too late. We had done our dash and the next ferry did not leave for another hour. It was starting to get late and I didn’t want us to get into the main train station after dark.
The one hour ferry ride to Como was not the best for me. I ended up feeling seasick again. (I have a very low tolerance for boat rides.) I was very glad to be back on dry land. Needing to use the toilet facilities, we decided to stop by at the nearest cafe. I headed straight to the restroom. I was feeling a lot better after I splashed some water on my face and felt that a cold drink would probably help settle my stomach. We waited for about 15 minutes for someone to take our order. The cafe was virtually empty at that time of the day, and there were a few staff standing about talking to each other but we were totally ignored. Finally we decided we’d had enough and got up to leave, and only then one of the staff decided to come over to try to take our order, but we told them we were leaving because the service was so bad. We were so annoyed that we didn’t bother to notice the name of the cafe so now I can’t even leave a bad review for them on the travel forum.
We decided to head back to Milan and asked for directions to the train station. It was a rather long walk to the station. We saw a bit of the town along the way. The town of Como appeared rather dismal and rundown. It didn’t hold much interest for us. We took the first train back to Milan, which got us to the Porta Giribaldi station. Leaving the station to search for the metro station, we got lost and ended up walking along the street, near a construction area. I started to get nervous when we spotted a few youths loitering about. Quickly, we made our way to the main road and followed a group of people who were obviously on their way home from work. We ended up back at the station but eventually found that the metro station was just right next to the entrance of the train station. We got back to our hotel without further incident.
My original plan was for us to have dinner at the Navigli area but the sky was still gray and it was beginning to get dark. So we decided to head out to the piazza. We wandered around a bit, stopping by at Zara, which was on sale. Eventually, we found a McDonalds right on the square, facing the Duomo. Deciding that we’d rather have fast food than pay ridiculous prices for crappy Italian food, we sat down at a table for dinner. The meal was not inconsistent for Maccas, but the view was priceless. We had a lovely view facing the Duomo. We couldn’t have asked for more. We went to bed tired but happy that night.