Thursday, June 27, 2013

Como, Italy and Lugano, Switzerland

Hotel Borgo Antico
Buongiorno! I spent a few days with a friend in Como, Italy for my birthday. Apparently we chose the perfect time to visit; several locals told us that the weather had been dismal just a few days before our arrival. Luckily for us, it was sunny, warm, and beautiful during our entire stay!

Before this, my only exposure to Italy was Milan for this past New Year's. We had a wonderful time but Milan is certainly a "business" city. It wasn't really the Italy I imagined: coastal, filled with beautiful and friendly people, and lots of delicious pizza and pasta. I'm so glad I was able to see a different city in Italy. Though Como is only 40 miles away from Milan, it feels like a different country.

We flew into Bergamo and took first a bus and then two trains to reach Como. Our hotel was just a five minute walk to the train station. Hotel Borgo Antico has only been open for a few months and it was absolutely perfect for our stay. The value is unbeatable and breakfast is included. Staff were eager to please and the property is extremely secure, with a 24-hour desk attendant who buzzes guests into the hotel after hours.

Duomo in Como
We spent our first afternoon eating lunch on a terrace in the historical center of Como. I didn't have one bad meal in Como and the wine (I mostly had house whites/reds) was fabulous! I was grateful for the reasonable prices. Maybe it's because I just returned from Santorini and felt slightly robbed. Anyway, it was a pleasant surprise.

There are lots of shops in Como stocking the usual touristy items, but also many upscale boutiques selling the fashionable image of Italy. We browsed around in a few and if I had the dough, I would've definitely purchased a Gucci gown from Tessabit... you know, for all of those film premieres and private parties at Villa d'Este.

We had a lovely lunch of pizza and prosciutto with fresh melon the next day. This was fuel for our journey up to the top of Como on the funicular. The views were stunning and it was actually my first time on a funicular. Como's has been operating since 1894. The walls of the waiting area at the bottom are filled with old photos from a time gone by, when the funicular was operated by steam engine and female passengers wore long, billowing skirts and fancy hats.

After our bird's eye view of the lake and Alps, we decided to take a quick train ride to Lugano in Switzerland. We didn't know much about Lugano but we thought the side-trip would be a fun way to spend the afternoon. Before we knew it, the sparkling waters of Lake Lugano stretched before us, framed by a mountainous backdrop.


As we made our way down to the lakeside from the station, we happened upon the Cathedral of San Lorenzo. The cathedral was founded in the early Middle Ages. It was under serious restoration but windows were strategically placed in the plastic partitions and we could still look in and get an idea of what the church looked like without all of the construction. Fortunately one small section wasn't covered in scaffolding. The frescoes on the ceiling were breathtaking.

Next, we strolled down the Lakeshore Promenade toward Belvedere Garden. Lots of people were out, lounging in chaises while reading, napping on blankets in the sun, and playing ultimate frisbee. It was a beautiful, lush park with playgrounds, lots of trees, and spectacular views of the lake and mountains.

The day was coming to an end and we had to catch a train back to Como for dinner. Lugano was lovely and I'm really glad we went, even if just for an afternoon.

Newspaper Art in a Lugano Tunnel

Our final day in Como was next. It involved wine, some rowdy Americans, and George Clooney.

Ciao! Ciao!

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