Our clocks are still off – both of us woke up between 3-4am here and couldn’t go back to sleep no matter how much we tossed and turned and tried. So Italian TV was our source of entertainment as we tried to doze off again.
We finally got up and got ourselves together and headed down for breakfast at the hotel. It was a nice buffet style with cappuccinos, cheeses, meats, breads, fruits, and juices. The views of the lake were gorgeous as well. We grabbed a second cappuccino and headed back to our room to enjoy the last morning on our deck (we have to switch rooms today to the one directly next door. The suite unfortunately wasn’t available the whole time.
After enjoying the morning outside, trying to get my blog updated and just relaxing, we headed into town with the goal of taking the 2 hour ferry tour. What we didn’t realize was it was just the slow ferry to Como that took two hours. We decided it was worth it, killed an hour people watching and then hopped on the boat to head to the southern most city on the lake. While we were waiting, there was a market in Bellagio selling some fresh breads and accompaniments.
Here is the map of the lake for reference.
Our boat had us start in Bellagio, with stops at Villa Carlotta, Tremezzo, Lenno, Lezzeno, Isola Comacina, Argegno, Moltrasio, Cernobbio, Tavernola, and then to Como. We sat on the upper portion of the boat in the very back so we could get unobstructed views out the stern of the boat. A couple of funny things to note – there was a guy about four rows in front of us who had to smoke an entire pack of cigarettes while we were up there and then randomly would leave his duffel bag. Upon closer inspection, the bag was really a dog carrier with a small dog in it. Um… okay?
Many of the towns along the lake are pretty much carved into the cliff. I was wondering why there wasn’t more real estate in the area and it is because the mountains surrounding us seem like sheer rock walls. There was a ton of construction along the way using cranes and scaffolding along the cliff sides. The towns also seemed less touristy than Bellagio and Varenna (at least from the water side).
We went past the lovely Villa del Balbianello. I had no idea this existed, would have been fun to do a tour. There is really so much to do here and it feels like we have barely scratched the surface!
Of course we went past George’s Villa … though he has let everything overgrow to ensure privacy, which is such a bummer.
Como definitely had more of a large city feel to it. It was over crowded with tourists everywhere. We were on the hunt for an electronics store (Jeremy left the spare battery and charger for our nice video camera in his hotel room in Miami). Unfortunately being a Sunday, most everything was closed.
We did walk past the Cathederal of Como, which was lovely.
We stopped at a funky little café for lunch called Caffe Ambrosiano and had a glass of wine and the best panini’s ever, where we decided we needed to introduce the boys to caprice panini’s when we get home. We walked around a little more and with some time to kill and stopped at Caffe Alessandro Volta that was along the Piazza Alessandro Volta and people watched.
On our honeymoon and our fifth anniversary trip, I always made a point to find pumpkin displays since it was fall. We even joked on the plane here that I would manage to find them … and so I did, MUHAHAHA!
This has to be one of my favorite serendipitous photos of the trip so far. I noticed this cello in an alleyway and grabbed my camera to take a photo when this woman stepped into the doorway to have her cigarette break. I snapped this shot, then she noticed me and smiled and got out of the way. The photo with her is so much more interesting.
We chose to take the speed boat back (a 40 minute trip versus 2 hours) and sat below wher pictures would have had to go through a window, so I just sat and enjoyed the view.
Once back in Bellagio we headed back to our hotel to check into our room for the day. We made reservations at Salice Blu, the restaurant where we tried to get cooking class in. We knew it was quite popular and we were unable to get a booking before 7:30. With time to kill, we figured we would get there about an hour early and have a cocktail while we waited. Well … lesson #1 in Italy (which we really already knew, but forgot) … if EVERYTHING is blocked before 7:30, that means the restaurant is not open yet. So here we roll in at 6:30 and (to our credit) there were some people sitting and dining outside, so we went in and asked if we could as well. After an uncomfortable few minutes trying to figure out what was going on, our waitress led us onto the patio where she graciously let us sit while the kitchen ate their meal prior to their workday starting.
I cannot rave enough about this restaurant. We decided that we would treat tonight as our anniversary dinner, as the chef has won multiple awards. While we enjoyed our cocktails, some salami and bread on the patio, we were able to soak up the atmosphere and watch the sous chefs start preparing everything after their meal. Once we got inside, we chose a table with a full view of the kitchen behind this awesome glass door.
Our waitress, Alicia, was delightful. Her English was just enough to help us and really get by and she had the best smile.
The chef, Luigi, came out and welcomed us to his restaurant and helped us pick out what to order.
We ended up getting a six course meal with four flights of wine that he specifically tailored to what we were eating. With almost each course, Chef Luigi came to our table to explain the wine pick or the dish we were eating. The presentation of the meal was phenomenal – everything looked like a work of art.
At the end of our night, Luigi and his Aunt Rosaria came out and sang a happy anniversary song to us and presented us with beautiful crystalized sugar roses as a gift.
Again, cannot rave enough about the warm atmosphere, such welcoming and lovely hosts. This had to be one of the top dining experiences I have had – I would best describe it as a much more intimate version of the Herb Farm since it is on a much smaller scale.
We asked to see the wine cellar prior to heading out, where they house between 8-9 THOUSAND bottles of wine. That was quite the experience as well. And it was the perfect end to a really wonderful day!
And of course, the blue willow the restaurant is named after. What an awesome night!