Pian del Tivano is a lovely high plain in the central area of the Como lake (the peninsula leading to Bellagio), with wonderful natural resort and ski center, but above all, a spectacular view on the lake as you climb up (or descend). On the way there are picturesque villages and the feeling of serenity is ubiquitous.
We had agreed with my Italian pal Kunie that we'd meet her in Como on Monday. It was raining when we got up and it never really ceased that day. It was the coldest day of our holiday as well with +5 degrees. We had bought the tickets in the previous night so could pop in to the bus when it arrived. Unlike in Finland tickets are not sold on the bus but had to buy beforehand in tobacco shops or little shops like the one in Cadenabbia. Kunie was already waiting for us when we arrived and it was great to see her again. She was in Finland some years ago and already then we got along very well. We had coffee and went to the tourist office to get a map and some advice, which was next to nothing. The girl there was one of the few Italian people we met who was not friendly and helpful.
We visited the duomo (cathedral) which was quite impressive. It was built in mixed Gothic and Renaissance styles and has some interesting pictures and tombs. What we found interesting was that confessions were made in the middle of the cathedral and anybody who walked there could see both the one making confession and the priest. We had always thought that they were done in a peaceful place where nobody could see you.
Bellagio is a small town where many rich and famous have their villas. We walked the lakeside boulevard to Villa Melzi. Villa itself is in neoclassic style and not open for the public. One can, however, visit a little moorish style classical temple and a museum. In the temple and around it are some scuplures of Dante and Beatrice, Austrian emperors Fernidand I and Marianne of Savoia and others by Giambattista Comolli. As it was such a beautiful day we skipped the museum and spent two to three hours walking in the gardens. All you could hear us say were “oohs” and “aahs” as we admired the blooming trees and plants. Azaleas in various colours were in full bloom as were many fruit trees. The paths go up the bank of the lake giving such beautiful view toward to Lake Como. What great time we had there. Francesco Melzi D'Eril who owend the villa was Duke of Lodi and Vice President of the Italian Republic and lived in 1753-1816. The gardens were worth the entrance fee of six euro.
In the morning we met Mrs. Pini, Michela, who was one of the most helpful people I've ever met on my travels. She served us (a German couple and an elderly man from Guernsey island, originally from Griante) a plentiful breakfast. After we had eaten she gave us brochures and told us about places we could visit during our stay. She was an eternal source of information and changed without any difficulties from Italian to German to English. She advised us to visit Bellagio and Varenna that day by boat as the forecast for Monday was rain and unstable weather for the rest of the week. We decided to do so and bought a day trip to the boats, which allowed us to do as many trips as we wanted in that part of Lake Como.
We chose another way and saw new scenery. We popped in to a small graveyard on our way down. I find them interesting as each country seems to have its traditions. As we had been up since 4:00 in the morning we wanted to have an early night, but before it we decided to have a couple of sandwiches. It was then that I realised that “lievito” was not any kind of spread but yeast! We had some giggles about it and were wondering what Mrs Pini would say if we asked if we could do some baking in her kitchen. Luckily we had a package of cheese slices so we had our supper after all. I slept very well without any interruptions, but poor Ulla was woken up by chuch bells every 30 minutes. On other nights she had earplugs and had good night sleep.
Our stop was in front of Hotel Britannia in Cadenabbia from where we had a walk of about 1.5 km, all uphill. With our luggage that first afternoon it felt like eternity but by the end of our holiday we got used to it and were not out of breath when we climbed up the stairs. We were welcome by the grandmother, who spoke some English and some German and we got along just fine. Our room was lovely, just like in the pictures in their web site, which usually is not the case and one wonders where the photos have been taken. We unpacked and took a little walk down to Cadenabbia.
On the way to Griante we saw such beautiful scenery that we immediately fell in love with Italy! We've been there before and though we loved both Lago di Garda and Venezia we were not keen on Italian people whom we found if not rude at least cold and not helpful. This changed during our holiday as we met so many wonderful people. Lake Como and the Dolomites behind were so beautiful in the afternoon sunshine. We couldn't but sigh with amazement. Such beauty we have seen rarely.
Como has changed immensly since I was here last in 2004. Compare it now with your last visit in terms of population and the number of new developments. This little square structure at lakeshore was our old ski club and I'm quite sad that is no longer exists. Can't believe my nephew convinced me to wear his wetsuit and jump into the lake from the top of this building - I must have been nuts - this was 3 stories high! Once I finally surfaced, we did take a swim toward Villa d'Este and saw a lovely little waterfall.
One of the best vantage points for this breathtaking view is in Piazza Cavour, on the banks of the lake in the town of Como. The cathedral here (pictured at left) is often cited as the best example of transitional architectural styles: to immediately understand what this means, compare the stunning gothic façade with the 18th-century dome above it.
At the heart of Como's walled Old Town, Piazza San Fedele has many 400-year-old buildings and the basilica, one of the masterpieces of the maestri comacini (masters of Como). At the top of Via Cantù you'll see the old wall's most spectacular standing tower, the Porta Vittoria. Nearby is the very austere church of San Abbondio. Rest awhile in its cloisters, then climb the hill behind it and go to the top of the Baradello Tower, for a lovely view of the entire lake. Next, walk back down the hill and visit Como's third great basilica, the early romanesque San Corpoforo.
We stopped at a little pebble beach for a swim. We had to keep our sandels on as its too hard to walk on the pebbles, so Sammi and I took it in turns with one pair of sandels. The water was so clear that when you were up to your chest in it you could look down and still see your feet, plus fish swimming around your legs.
We travelled to Lake Como from Bergamo. It should have been a straight-forward drive towards Lecco but I missed a turn and we ended up driving towards the North of the Lake over the San Marco Pass. We got up so high driving around hairpin bends I couldn't enjoy the scenery because of panicing about the height.
These are manicured lakeside gardens with a lot of interesting architectural features. They are also quite colorful and I think the combination of the natural setting of the lake and trees sets off the well tended areas. The day we were there we were virtually alone in them. I am not sure where the villa gardens ended and the monastery gardens started, but you can by a combo ticket for about 3 euros.
We walked through the little village and then came across this Church on the other side. I must apologise but I cannot remember the name of this Church but it was very pretty. Unfortunately, we did not enter to look inside.
On our first morning in Cadennabia we decided to have a short walk around the back of the Hotel away from the Lake. We climbed some steps and then walked up a steep road and then some more steps and so on. Eventually, we came across Griante village. It was very quiet and peaceful with just a few old houses and some new ones and one or two churches. I don't think we came across even 1 shop! The only bar we saw was the one in the picture.
The lake is best seen by car so you can stop and take in the scenery
Bellagio is a nice place up the east coast
como doesnt have anything great but a good base
The west is nice too