We are traveling from Venice, Italy, to Kandersteg, Switzerland, so we decide to spend two nights in the scenic Italian town of Como, which is situated at the southern tip of the south-west arm of Lake Como.
Como is reputed to have 1,400,000 visitors annually, but when you travel in October, as we are doing, the town is quiet and carefree. Thus, we have made no hotel reservations, and will trust our luck to find a hotel when we arrive. 😎
We follow the directions of the car’s navigator (which is a female voice and a British accent, with Dominatrix overtones) and park, then wander the streets near the water, looking for a hotel that might appeal to us. We stumble upon the Hotel Miralago; inside the hotel is warm and friendly, and we inquire about availability.
Not to worry: it is past tourist season, and we can have almost any room we want.
We select a corner room on the top floor which gives us exactly the view we were hoping to find in a scenic town in the Italian Alps.
We have been sitting for a long time in our car. Let’s take a walk around the town.
These buildings seldom indicate which religious sect owns them; instead, that information must be inferred. For example, according to the internet, this church was consecrated by “Bishop Mugiasca” in the late 1700s. An internet search reveals a fellow named Bishop Muggiasca (note the different spelling) who was alive at that time and was indeed the Bishop of Como and a Catholic. Thus, we can assume it is still owned by the friendly folks who manage the Catholic religion.
While walking on a winding road in the hills, we see an opening in the hillside protected by a metal grate. We put the camera lens through the grate’s opening and take a flash photograph. It appears to be a service tunnel, but, to where? The leaves are pushed aside as if someone recently walked through. There is a small door on the left leading to parts unknown. And why is clothing laying around? So many questions to remain unanswered.
I’m sure the Fiat 500L is easy to park and gets great fuel economy. It probably holds up to one bag of groceries and two very small adults. At least the owner can’t be accused of compensating…
It is ironic that the Romans built these structures to protect Como, and now the Comonians erect a fence with security cameras to protect the ruins. So this is as close as we can get. 🙁
Across the valley, we see a tower of obviously more modern design, but can find no information about it. Still, we include it here because it is beautiful, nestled in the trees in early autumn.
We live in southern California. There are no natural springs flowing carelessly down hillsides, unconcerned with mudslides or water conservation. This small waterfall would probably be great fun on a hot summer’s day, but in October in northern Italy, it is way too cold.
As with Muslim and Jewish communities, Christian communities have a call to prayer: the church bells. However, we do not stop to pray, but just enjoy the beauty of the architecture against the blue and white sky.
Although the towns are densely populated, the hillsides are largely untouched by buildings. We suspect that the cold winters here in the Alps encourage folks to live where it is relatively flat.
Although it is cool here in Como, we can see that winter is just around the corner. According to the internet, “If you suffer from the cold, probably Lake Como is not your ideal winter destination. Winter temperatures drop dramatically, and so do the daylight hours. January is the coldest month, with an average low temperature of 1°C (33°F) and maximum of only 6°C (42°F), but it is not uncommon to drop below zero during the coldest nights.”
See the road on the far right? That’s how we got here, and this is about as far as we can walk without leaving Como through the mountains. We wonder if the people who live here know how lucky there are to spend their lives in such a beautiful place.
The autumn days are short and the weather is cool and occasionally rainy, so we have fewer opportunities to do touristy things. But we can eat. 😆
It’s midday, so we don’t want to have a heavy meal. But we are in Italy, so we don’t want to have boring food. And it’s cool outside. Thus, wine, hot chocolate, pastries, and chocolate are the perfect food for the season.
But dinner is a different matter. We get dressed up a bit and start with sparkling water, Italian beer, and a nice bottle of Chardonnay.
We normally don’t photograph food, for the reason you see here: food has presentation, but it also has smell and taste, plus the ambiance of the room and the pleasure of your company. But I took this photograph because it was some of the best seafood I have every eaten. Totally yummy.
Notice all the other patrons in the restaurant? Ha ha! We are here alone. It’s one of the many benefits of traveling in shoulder season.
Naturally they serve their beer in a glass advertising the very beer we are drinking, which their website claims is “the unmistakable symbol of Italian excellence.” I’m not sure I would go that far, but it is damn good beer.
We couldn’t NOT eat ice cream in Italy.
Friend: “How was your trip to Italy? Did you enjoy the food?”
Us: “Italy was great and the food was great.”
Friend: “And how was the ice cream?”
Us: “We didn’t have any.”
But, of course, the true Italian ice cream is gelato which, according to the internet, “is acknowledged by many experts to be the best ice cream in the world.” Now, I know you are thinking, “weasel words” and “citation needed,” but before you get all defensive of Ben and Jerry’s or Dairy Queen, travel to Como and taste for yourself. 😛
We have never understood the European custom of putting perishable foods in outdoor vending machines. It just seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen, doesn’t it?
Just to drive home the point, and because we have this photograph, Yes, you can have a restaurant to yourself when traveling in shoulder season. Quiet, romantic, good service, and fresh food.
A few pieces of art caught our attention in Como, including this one. Perhaps a flapper, she reclines on a couch or bed, looking forlorn. We can only assume it has something to do with her enormous feet and pronounced toe nails.
This painting is hanging in our hotel room above our bed. We appreciate Italy’s candid attitude toward nudity such that these things are seen to be deserving of a high-end establishment. We don’t understand the kite, but, hey, Italy!
Sadly, we must be on our way now. It was a too-short visit, but we are happy we spent our time here and are happy we can now share them with you. Alla prossima, Como!