Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I’m usually very typeA personality when it comes to planning our trips. I map out whole days involving every meal, sightseeing and where we can eat or drink in between sightseeing.

However, every now and then, I step back and put the planner down. In March, we booked a weekend trip to Lake Como, Italy, with our foodie friend from Germany. I hardly planned a thing for this trip because I trust our friend when it comes to food and he had visited the area a few summers ago. I also was traveling with a recently sprained ankle so I wasn’t too mobile yet.

After a 90-minute drive from Bergamo airport, we arrived at a cloudy-covered, but still beautiful Lake Como. I had no expectations for this place, especially since we were visiting in a very off-peak season.
Our first order of business was finding food. Luckily, our agriturismo owner recommended a local wine bar that perfectly (and cheaply) served our needs. We consumed 8 glasses of wine and a large platter of Italian cured meats at Comini Enoteca, Via Montello 1, in Mandello del Lario, for only 40 euros! This was a fantastic start to our weekend at Lake Como.
Afterwards, we drove down and parked at the local train station so it wouldn’t be too far for me to hobble downhill to the pier area in Mandello del Lario. We stopped at what seemed like the only open café where we bought gelato and walked along the pier.
Then, we continued north up the coast to the next town of Varenna so we could figure out the ferry boat schedule for the next day. Varenna was full of charming, rustic houses, narrow, cobble-stoned paths and a long lakeside promenade. I’m sure the town is even prettier when the weather is nice.
On Sunday, we woke up to these wonderful views from our hillside agriturismo, Crotto di Somana

If you visit Lake Como, I can highly recommend our agriturismo, which had been recently renovated around a “crotto,” a natural cave typical of the mountain regions of the surrounding Lombard and Swiss Alps. After a pleasant breakfast featuring homemade jams, breads and cheeses, we left early to catch the ferry boat from Varenna to Bellagio.
View of Bellagio on Lake Como from the ferry boat.
The resort town of Bellagio has an ideal lakeside location so the rich and famous can just pull up in their fancy boats. We didn’t see anyone famous, just some British tourists. We wandered around a bit and then plunked ourselves down lakeside to enjoy the sunny weather.
From Bellagio, we decided to catch the ferry boat to Menaggio, located on the lake’s western side closer to where George (Clooney) lives. Unfortunately, our plans to meet up with George fell through so we decided to drive to Switzerland!
Visiting Lake Como in March was the perfect season for us because it wasn't crowded.
The town of Menaggio.
The drive was only about 45-minutes from Menaggio to the town of Lugano in Switzerland. But first we were stopped by the cops. We hadn’t done anything wrong, just had to wait for a cycling race to pass through, so we got out to take photos.
The clear waters of nearby Lago di Lugano looked quite inviting!
Lugano itself didn’t look as picturesque as the towns by Lake Como, so we stayed long enough to have a drink and enjoy the views.
Back in Menaggio, our plans went sideways. We parked the car in line for the next ferry boat and ran into a small café for something to eat. We didn’t have much time, so our friend went back out to the car. Well, hubby and I got distracted and soon enough we were running outside just in time to see the ferry boat pulling away from the shore. We literally had missed the boat!

We had to wait another hour for the next ferry boat while our friend had a drink back in Varenna and (thankfully) waited for us with the car. At least, we saw the sunset over Lake Como.

We ended our lazy weekend with a home-cooked, four-course dinner at one of the best places in Mandello del Lario – Osteria Sali e Tabacchi. Eating here was like being invited into an Italian’s mother’s home. The dishes were simple, but delicious and featured local ingredients. A few of the dishes I remember: local fish in two dishes, cured Italian meats for an antipasti, braised beef with polenta, pumpkin-filled ravioli and homemade pistachio gelato. Be sure to make reservations in advance!
Despite having a badly sprained ankle, we were able to sightsee a bit around Lake Como, relax and simply have fun catching up with our good friend. I realized sometimes it pays not to have a perfect plan.

 Have you been to Lake Como? If so, do you have any recommendations for our next trip?

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BacktoBodrum said...

My mouth is watering. I haven't been to the lakes for a long time but I remember the he wonderful food .

Joy said...

@Annie, This area was so pretty that I would love to return. And yes, the food was definitely one of the highlights!

Stephanie said...

Visiting Lake Como is a must for anyone travelling to Italy. This place is magical. The scenery is amazing and the lake itself is breath-taking. Anyone can't describe in words how amazing Lake Como is. You have to go there yourself to truly experience it. The photos do it no justice.