Tom wants nothing to do with this blog entry – an unworthy topic, he feels, a yawn at that. But the readers, especially the girls, have been begging. Can I find him? Did I see him? Is there a new girlfriend? Ever since George Clooney bought Villa Oleandra, the former Heinz mansion, in 2002 for $10 million, his name has been synonymous with Lake Como.
Remember those “Can You Spot the Difference” features in the back of comic books? There would be two pictures, with eight or ten tiny differences (really: a horse with three legs?) and you were challenged to find the differences. The answer was invariably printed upside-down at the bottom. Remember those?
A beautiful Italian day bathed us in the soft air of the Lake Como countryside. We had arrived at the town of Lenno via the lake’s “slow boat” (see Louise’s post here) and, feeling a little lethargic from beer and pizza (my gawd, the pizza is good here!), we decided to hike back to the prior boat landing rather than return to the landing where we had just got off. The five-kilometer route took us high into the hills overlooking the quaint community of Mezzegra, not far from the Swiss border. Wildflowers and chalets surrounded us. If this had been Austria, we no doubt would’ve seen Julie Andrews twirling through a meadow, singing Rogers and Hammerstein.
It’s easy to get envious around Lake Como, where tony tourists wander around buying diamonds, dining on $25 plates of pasta, and then retire to $900 hotel rooms. Many of these hotels are set in old villas built in the 1800s on the shores of the lake, most of which are still inhabited by the likes of Giorgio Armani and Giorgio Clooney, plus various obscure zillionaires. In an effort to get up close and personal with the enviable lifestyles of the rich and famous, yesterday we took the Midlake Boat Tour. For fifteen euros, we could hop on and hop off at six towns in the area.
Our journey from Venice to Bellagio was uneventful until we boarded the train from Milan to Como. (The entire journey is described here.) Reading our Italian tickets as best we could, we determined we had 45 minutes to get from the Milan train to the Como train, in the same station. Couldn’t be too hard. But an aggressive porter snatched our bags as soon as the train arrived in Milan and ran off (bags in tow) when we showed him our tickets. There wasn’t much for us to do but chase after him.
Today our travelers are in Venice, the romantic Italian city of Carnival and Casanova. Readers are reminded, however, that it is August, one of the hotter Augusts on record in Italy, and that provokes a certain irritability within our normally amicable duo, resulting in two decidedly antipodal perspectives on the Venetian experience…