Italy for the Ordinary | Lake Como Part 2
After we took in the immediate, wow-this is beautiful, we wanted to find our hotel. When you book a hotel, typically online, you usually feel a bit apprehensive about your choice. You hope it will be all you dreamed it to be and actually look like the pictures and the description. Until you arrive, you’re leery of what you will find, especially if you’re traveling to places unknown. If you didn’t make the right choice it could really put a damper on your vacation. We found our way to Albergo Milano. We arrived a bit weary and exhausted because we took the long way home. From the train station we made our way down to see the lake. Once you debark the train, you find yourself following the crowd which kind of took you off course. Wouldn’t you know our hotel was situated high above the lake requiring a hike back up the ancient stone steps? It’s one thing to go up and down flights of steps when you’re in good form and well rested but not so much when you’re fatigued and dragging your luggage. Our apartment was in an ancillary building, but still part of the hotel establishment, which we arranged since we had our daughter with us. The main hotel would have been more convenient but when you need more than one room, you make your decisions accordingly. Once we checked in we made a reservation for dinner that night at the restaurant in our hotel called La Vista @ Albergo Milano which has a veranda overlooking the lake. The view from the hotel could not be beat. We then found our way to your mini apartment and quickly cleaned up and off we went. We were more than ready for some Italian delights and we found a cute outdoor restaurant right on the lake, called Ristorante Bar Lido The food was delicious and equally as aesthetically appealing. We were off to a good start. We could get used to this!
We spent 3 days and 3 nights at Lake Como and all three nights at Albergo Milano. During our stay we toured the village of Varenna, Bellagio (we did not see George Clooney) and Griante. There are so many other places to visit but you have to pick and choose what appeals to you and fits your fancy and timeline. Of the 3 villages that we visited my favorite was Varenna. I’m certainly glad we spent some time at Bellagio and we ended up appreciating Griante because there was a floating pool immersed in the lake. Lake Como is absolutely beautiful. It is a glacial lake with a maximum depth of 1,394 feet. It is the third largest lake in Italy. It is flanked by the Alps so the contrast between mountains and water is breathtaking. It’s a great place to relax and do some stress free sight-seeing. There’s nothing intense about Lake Como except the natural beauty and the charming towns. The various towns are located along the coast and the well organized ferry system allows you to trolly from town to town by boat. It’s a place to meander the streets, go in and out of shops and enjoy amazing food and outstanding views. We found two things to be a bit strange.
We were vacationing in July, the peak of summer but the lake offered barely any water activity. We found a few pockets of sunbathers and water-dippers but they were few and far between. There was no water sports and only a rare sailboat on the lake. The only boating was the ferry system and private boat taxi’s. We are water people. When you’re on the water, especially in July, you want to find a way to be in the water. So when happened upon Griante, we were so excited to lounge poolside and do a little swimming. It became our challenge to find places to swim. As the pictures below will show, we found one other place to swim and by the time we found this spot the sun was setting. I think, at that point in time, my daughter and I were the only people swimming in all of Lake Como. We felt refreshed and delighted to partake in an evening swim. This swimming spot was actually by the first place we ate known as “The Beach Bar”. Below is a sample of some of the sights and tastes of Lake Como.
One final note on other food establishments. We had a lovely meal at Osteria Quatro Pass. We were unable to get a reservation at our first choice restaurants but happened upon this quaint little place. It did not have a view of the lake but it still had the charm of the village and the food was amazing. After dinner we headed over to Hotel Royal Victoria. This is a high end hotel with a lovely outdoor pool, amazing outdoor bar and seating with breathtaking views of the lake. We went there for an after dinner drink. If money is not an object, I would consider staying at Hotel Royal Victoria. However, a smaller boutique hotel like Albergo Milano always suits me quite well- no regrets!.
Here are some of the churches we visited in Varenna and Bellagio
Some more fabulous meals we enjoyed
Places we found to take a dip
Some ancient architectural arches and alleyways
Pictures don’t do the sunsets justice
1) Obtain the specific address and way to get to your destination. It may help you avoid unnecessary steps.
2) Varenna is beautiful but if you’re unsteady on your feet, you may have some difficulty. There are a lot of cobblestone steps. Many of the hotels are located high above the lake. This allows for beautiful views, but if you have any mobility issues, please consider the actual physical location of your hotel.
3) Lake Como is a vacation hub for those escaping the metropolitan city of Milan. People tend to dress up when dining out. Just be aware.
4) Make dinner reservations. Most restaurants fill up and restaurants are not inclined to allow you to have a table that is reserved, even if the reservation is a bit later. your table is saved for you, so do plan accordingly.
After our third night we headed back to Milan via train. We parted ways with Sarah and continued to the second leg of our trip, Tuscany. We had a fabulous visit at Lake Como. It is loaded with charm and character. I am so glad we went to Lake Como and highly recommend a visit to the Lombardy region of northern Italy.