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.
He sprinted to the Como-bound train and hastily threw our bags aboard. We paid him a seemingly absurd €10 (for ten minutes of work), and joined our bags on the train. As soon as we stepped aboard, the door closed and the train began to move – more than a half hour early!
We had read the tickets wrong of course, misinterpreting our arrival time in Como as our departure time in Milan. Had it not have been for that porter we’d still be standing on the platform, looking for our train. Best ten euros I’ve ever spent.
We took our seats next to a couple that had stashed their bags – BIG bags – in the aisle next to their seats. More people arrived, dragging their bags behind them. They couldn’t get around the bags in the aisle.
In the US, a polite discussion (and probably, an amicable solution) would’ve ensued. This, however, was Italy. Voices were raised. Fists were shaken. Faces turned red with anger. Louise and I cringed in fear of becoming wounded in what was sure to become an ensuing melee. (The Italian language, lyrical and charming under normal conditions, becomes venomous in anger. We’ve seen The Sopranos: these people carry weapons!)
For us, only twenty minutes remained on the train. We figured we could stand in the aisle for that long, safely removed from the fray. We slunk away as inconspicuously as possible. (Which wasn’t very inconspicuous at all: Americans are very tall and very white in Italy.) The scrimmage continued as we watched from a prudent distance, but we saw no bloodshed. Perhaps all that yelling was just the Italian way.
So now we’re in Bellagio on the shores of Lake Como, where pretty boats come and go, flowers bloom outrageously, tony shops and cobblestone streets abound, the sun shines on warm afternoons, and the temperature drops to the low sixties overnight. I visited here on a solo journey in 2001 and vowed to return. Bellagio is that enticing – was then; is now. Our apartment is a tiny studio affair – actually the stable under a converted villa – but it features a large and well-tended garden that’s part of the deal. The garden is ours and ours alone, with a private entrance up a cobbled pathway. Within an hour of our arrival, Louise and I began to discuss returning here next summer.
I’ll post a gallery here (click to enlarge, blah, blah), but there will be more pictures to come.