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Our Magnificent Journey
Chapter 9
Europe 2007
London, Tuscany, Paris


Day 13
Monterosso - Lake Como

I woke at 2 a.m. and went out on the balcony. The stars in the ink-black sky were incredibly bright and clear. Far out to sea I saw the lights of ships passing in the night. The town was silent. I enjoyed the peaceful stillness then fell back into bed.


We woke at eight, showered, dressed and packed, then enjoyed a delicious continental breakfast of cheese, fresh fruits, pan au chocolate, yogurt, rolls and coffee in the hotel dining room.


Another gorgeous sunny, cool day. Dragged our suitcases down to the train station and sat at a café on the water and met Peter and Denise, charming folks with homes in Seattle, Denver and, surprisingly, Tucson. A short while later M&M met up with us and we all boarded the 10:55 train to Milan, where we changed trains en route to Lake Como. Pass through many picturesque towns and villages along the way.


The cliffs south of Monterosso

The train wound its way north along the coast to Genoa then turned east. I had been along this same path with brother Jim in 1971. Heading inland and north, the train passed farmlands, vineyards, rivers, quaint villages and forests until it pulled into the gigantic Milan station. We changed trains there (the next train was quite crowded) and stayed on a northerly heading until we started to see huge mountains, the foothills of the Alps. We followed the length of Lake Como and de-trained at Varenna.


Varenna at Lake Como

Rita, our taxi driver, practically flew us out of the train station, along narrow roads through the tiny town of Varenna and up the side of the mountain to our hotel, nearly crashing head-on with another driver at one point. Not one to be deterred, she pressed on until the other driver backed up and let us pass by.


Our room at Hotel Eremo Gaudio, high up on the cliffs above the Lake, has to be seen to be believed. We look out of our stone patio archways across magnificent Lake Como hundreds of feet below. We have a choice of walking up/down 400 steps or taking two fun funiculars. We chose the latter. Spacious modern room, comfy bed, clean bathroom with a world-class view. The tiny, sleepy town of Varenna hugs the shore well below us.

The funicular
M & M ready to ride the funicular
M & M enjoying the ride
Our room at Hotel Eremo Gaudio at Lake Como
The view of Varenna from our balcony

After settling in the rather luxurious hotel (we had a suite,) we sat on our balcony high above the town and the Lake and took in the awe-inspiring view. Belaggio lies across the Lake. We are surrounded by the Alps. The air is cool and crisp. There are very few tourists. The ferry boats slowly make their way along their routes across the glassy surface of the huge, serene Lake.


Enjoying the cool Lake Como air
Varenna as seen from our hotel room
Muriel, Carol and Varenna

The four of us took both funiculars down to the lobby, then walked the rest of the way down the steps to the little road and strolled into Varenna, past grapevines and cactus.


Tranquil Lake Como
Fisherman at Varenna

Varenna hugs the hills along the shore of the Lake and there are many steep stone alleyways leading down to the water's edge. A ferry port, the town is overlooked by a ruined 11th Century castle.

Carol, Muriel and Marc along the waters of Varenna at Lake Como

Set in an idyllic landscape of mountains and rugged hillsides, and shrouded in an almost eerie calm, Lake Como has attracted visitors for centuries. It is a long, narrow lake crafted into a wishbone shape by glacial erosion.


We are just a few miles from the Swiss border and within hiking distance of Lake Lugano, where my brother Jim and I were attacked by giant slugs during one strange, memorable night in 1971.


Dusk at Varenna

We did some exploring and decided upon a lakeside café for pizza and wine. We spent three hours there watching the sunset, the shadows rise, and the lights come on all around the Lake. Near our table a cat chases ducks into the water. It is a lovely, peaceful, pastoral scene. We fully understand why George Clooney purchased a villa near Bellagio.

Delicious bruscetta
M & M enjoying the cool evening at Varenna

Late in the afternoon we climbed up out of Varenna, up the narrow road to the steps of the hotel then took the first funicular up to the second one, then took the second one up the side of the steep mountain to our rooms. The four of us sat on our balcony for the next hour taking in the breathtaking scenery around us and below us. At 11 p.m., we decided to call it a night. We bid buona notte to M&M, and Carol and I fell into a deep sleep in our large, comfortable bed looking out at the Lake and the lights.

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