Lake Como has been perhaps the biggest surprise to me so far this trip. I’d seen the pictures from rooftop patios in Bellagio and of infinity pools at luxurious hotels along the Lake. I guess it shouldn’t be a total shocker that this generally isn’t the vibe of the place at all (though it certainly is in Bellagio itself, I suppose. More on that later.) the town of Como is much more sprawled out than I imagined, though fortunately our hostel, in Riva al Lago, is only a block away from the water. After a late arrival, night one went as I’ve come to expect on this trip, and I’m guessing of hostels in general: catch up with past acquaintances, meet new ones, and get smashed. A rich tradition!
My full day here was spent tagging along with a small group to do the only thing that was really recommended to us: take the ferry up to Bellagio and then visit as many other towns along the way back as we could fit in. The boat up was about 2 hours. The little towns scattered amongst the hills are picturesque, though our enjoyment was lessened by the fog, choppy water, and an impending storm. I will say that Bellagio looks sweet. Cobblestone streets and more manicured storefronts give the place an expensive feel. I was thrilled to learn when paying for lunch that there is a 3 euro cover charge applied to all bills, I imagine just for the pleasure of eating there. How fancy. I would feel equally privileged to kick the waiter in the nards for not telling us beforehand. I was amused however by the clientele. To my right was an old American lady dramatically telling her partner, “thank God there is pizza here with white sauce. I can’t stand red sauce and I wish Italians would stop putting it on everything.” To the other side was a young, well-off looking British couple with that awkward first-date silence between them. He was wearing those leather boat shoes that you wear without socks. Because I’m sure he drove the boat over here himself. Barf. Ahh! Bellagio is sucking me in and making me judgey and resentful. I need to leave!
My Bellagio hubris was greeted by a thunderstorm as we caught the ferry. At our second stop, Villa Carlotta, the group of us made our way along the coast to the nearby town of Lenno in the now-patchy rain. I enjoyed these towns much more than Bellagio. They were just as pretty in my opinion, and I want to say far less… um… douchey?
The lake itself is beautiful, and I think I’m glad I did the round-trip on the ferry even with the bad weather and below expectation visit to royalty. Plus the bunch of us got together with the rest at the hostel to play games and drink the night away again… and that’s always a good way to redeem a Friday night.
The reason I share this is to contrast it with my experience the next morning. Dad, I should have listened to you and Robert Frost and taken the road less travelled. Armed with a bit of information from an amazingly helpful girl at the information center in town, I grabbed one of my new friends and took the ferry again, this time to Cernobbio for a hike. Cernobbio is easily the cutest little lake town I’ve ever seen, and it was only helped by what was already a beautiful morning. We walked all the way along to the next town, Moltrasio. The hike was less than 2 hours but offered stunning views, no tourists, and enough time to have a wicked lunch right on the lake before catching the ferry back to get on our bus to Switzerland. We also got a PILE of free day-old focaccia from a friendly baker just because I said the day couldn’t get any better. Easily my favorite non-tourist day yet.
So there you go, I learned something: it’s ok to not go with the flow. Sometimes you just have to find your own adventure. I hope I remember this in Switzerland.