Falling In Love Again With Italy

by Donna on March 22, 2012

Ahhh……I remember why I love Italy.  There can never enough of her.   She’s fashionable, sexy, and beautiful, with a picture-postcard moment just around the corner.  There are exuberant guides, slender women wearing boots, a jacket and a scarf tied just so, dark-haired Mediterranean men with Roman-chiseled faces.  And then there is the food.  Nothing is served that isn’t fresh, from the season.  There is fresh-caught fish in a reduced red-wine sauce, asparagus, baby potatoes, grilled little potatoes.  And of course the bread.  My carbohydrate intake in Italy exceeds the Richter scale of a daily allowable limit, but it is so good…..in Italy I eat the bread for dessert as well as for breakfast.

But I am here for the sightseeing.  To learn about Lake Como and the Liguria region.  The Italian border with Switzerland is close, and the views supposedly great from either side of the border, but at substantially less cost on the Italian side.  Not that anything is especially cheap.  My lunch along the lake in Bellagio was wonderful, but it still set me back fifty euros.  Ah…..but one only lives once and life, especially in Italy, is to be enjoyed.

It would be nice to say how gorgeous was the view from our hotel, right on the plaza facing Lake Como with the Swiss Alps in the distance.  The reality is that the day started off foggy, rainy, and dreary with only a glimpse of what was possible.  The reality is also that it ended up the sight for a painting with a lovely sunset.

Blond Roberta, our day guide for Lake Como, was quintessential Italian.  Every phrase ended with a classic added syllable and lilting upswing voice.  Plus constant hand gestures, of course.  She wanted us to know about everything, from the medieval walls surrounding the walking city of Como, to the multiple architectural styles of the Cathedra,l to the little bars and cafes that are so much a part of Italian life.

I try to take it all in…the three branches of Lake Como, the villas and mansions dotting our cruise from Como to Bellagio, including George Cluny’s 3-building estate and the ultimate villa owned by Richard Branson one can rent for only 30,000 euros per night.  I learn that I can take the #1 bus from Como and be in Switzerland in a short period of time.  I learn that Italians from the area want to work in Switzerland at Swiss wages and then pay taxes in Italy—if they pay taxes at all.  I learn how the entire Y-shaped lake, from the upper point of Lartio to the southern-most point of Como was to Europe what the salt trade across the Sahara ending in 14th century Mali was to Africa.  It was the center of commerce, the meeting of north and south, the exchange of goods.

I also learn that it’s about time to try and find that little restaurant Roberta pointed out on our walking tour and indulge in more regional delights.  Ahh….Italy.

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