This is a really great view.
A fun fact about this view is that even though Italy is quite public transport-friendly, you would be crazy miserable trying to get to this view without a car.
This is the view from outside my small B&B (I think 3 rooms?) in Brunate, Italy, on Lake Como. Brunate is the very, very high hill town just to the east of the bigger and more famous Como. It looks really idyllic on a map. It’s also not very pedestrian friendly.
Through sheer dumb luck, I avoided the back pain and complaining that would have marked that day in my life had I taken the train into Como. The train was my main mode of transportation in Italy, but while plugging cities into Rome2Rio, I noticed something interesting: there was a cheaper AND faster listed way to get from Verona to Como. I clicked on it with raised eyebrows. It told me to go to BlaBlaCar.
We don’t have BlaBlaCar where I’m from, so it was a new concept to me. It’s basically a car sharing service: drivers list where they’re going, and you can join them for a small fee. I’m super into the sharing economy, so I was all ready to try this. I contacted a guy named Daniele, who was available to take me in his Audi. Daniele was from Bari in the south, but lived in the north. We talked about the differences between south and north Italy. “In the north, they say, ‘Southerners are so lazy! They have no work ethic!’ In the south, they say, ‘Northerners are so rigid! They have no heart!’” he told me.
We chatted and had a pleasant ride. Then he gave me his card, dropped me off right at the front gate of my B&B, and went and had an espresso with the B&B owner. I went up to my room thinking how glad I was that I didn’t have to carry my backpack up those hills.
I wonder what it’s like to be from Como, where most of your residents in the summer are from somewhere else. I wonder if it makes you feel permanent or patchy. More like you belong there, or less.
In Como, I visited the towns of Como, Brunate, and Lenno (to see the Villa del Balbianello). A ferry service will take you all around the lake. It’s expensive, like everything else in the area.
The view from the ferry.
I tried grappa (Wiki describes it as a “grape-based pomace brandy”—close enough) for the first and only time in a bar near the lake there. Once was probably enough, but it’s one of those “try it for yourself” experiences.
I spent 3 days in Como. Deciding if that’s enough time is tough. It did feel a bit rushed, and I would have liked to see more of the lake towns, but the value for money is so low that you have to be looking for a swanky vacation to make a longer trip worth it. Do you like seeing things, or do you like doing things? This is a “seeing things” destination. The things are very nice and also very expensive, each town a collection of museums perched on the edge of the water.
Como is a tourist destination. Don’t let that stop you from going: after all, you’re a tourist.