Lake Como, Italy
Holiday Diary 2009
Drove 1½ hours from Milan to Lake Como. Checked in to Grand Hotel, Menaggio, which we booked through Citalia.
The hotel was lovely, with pretty communal areas and a balcony in our room over looking the lake and surrounding hills. Very pretty.
Strolled around the town. Swam in hotel pool. Ate in hotel, nice meal. Friendly staff.Walked into town and played crazy golf. It was a cold evening.
Day 2: Got up early and went to gym. Then felt ill all day (so not used to exercise!)
We were late into breakfast so the buffet was rather depleted. Lazy day.
Day 3: Didn’t go to gym. (No need to over do it.)
Hotel were having a Gala night so were putting up some (slightly naff) decorations. Had a very complicated conversation with the maid about getting a larger sheet for the bed as it only has a single sheet on the double bed. Way beyond my language ability level.
Ate lunch in a square in town. Strolled around but it was too hot to walk for long.
Dinner was nice but we had a grumpy waitress who threw down food, spilt drinks and scowled a lot. Probably does too much exercise.
Sat on balcony and watched fireworks across the lake. They played classical musical and it was magical watching the reflections play across the water.
Day 4: Drove along side of lake and into Switzerland. Took about 2 hours. Beautiful scenery, even the kids thought it was good (“Looks like one of those posters which you know isn’t real. But it is!”) Went to St Moritz. Bit false, mainly hotels and designer shops. Had a lovely homemade soup and cheese sandwich lunch in a cafe.
The family all went on a train and cable car up to the peak to look at the Alps. Becky got an altitude headache but they all said it was good.
I got off the train at the first stop and tried to find Heidi’s house. No helpful signposts and I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for. The only possible contender I saw was pretty big. My image of Heidi’s grandfather was not multi millionaire. Maybe he extended it when her books became popular.
It was fairly chilly. I met other walkers, who were all wearing full hiking gear complete with boots and walking poles. Wondered if my silk skirt and sandals was inappropriate for mountain walking. Pretended I was local and looked at them like they were over dressed annoying tourists.
Walked down through pine forests, listening to cow bells. It was a mix of very lovely (as it grew warmer on the lower slopes) and a bit scary (because I was on a mountain all by myself without a clue as to where I was.)
When I got back to town my legs were shaking from walking downhill for so long! (Maybe I do need another gym visit.)
Went to co op and bought chocolate and cokes. Drove home after we managed to pay the car park ticket. The machine only took euro notes and we didn’t want swiss francs as change.
On the way back we stopped at a lake. It was totally perfect. David and the boys stripped off and swam. Lots of squealing when they realised how cold the water was! Luckily no one had a heart attack and we made it back to hotel slightly damp, very hungry, but feeling we had had a good day.
Day 5: David went to the gym then restocked his protein with egg and cheese for breakfast.
Morning by pool, lunch in bar next door.
Spent the afternoon at Villa Carlotta. This is a villa, built in the seventeenth century for a Milanese marquis. It is now a museum and botanical garden.
We were interested to see it as about fifty years previously, David’s grandparents had been and they had bought an ornament of the statue of Cupid and Psyche by Canova, which now belonged to us. They had the statue at the villa. (Not the original, in case you are wondering. One is in the Louvre in Paris, a second copy is in the Hermitage in St Petersburg and the plaster cast is in the Met in New York.)
We looked at the statue, took some photos (even though lots of signs told us not to) and bought another copy from the gift shop. It is not as well made as the model from fifty years ago, but only cost 16€ so seemed worth continuing the tradition.
The gardens surrounding the villa are very lovely and we spent some time wandering around. It would have been more enjoyable in a slightly cooler season.
Day 6: We took the ferry across the lake to Varrena. The ferries stop right next to the hotel and you constantly heard them announcing all their stops. It wasn’t particularly intrusive, they were only at certain times and not late at night, but whenever I now think about that hotel I hear the chant from the ferry information in my head. Shame they weren’t chanting something useful.
Varrena is a little town on a hill, full of picturesque lanes and old fishermen cottages. We walked around and then bought slices of pizza which we ate on stone steps leading down to the water. We found a cafe next to the lake and had some very good pancakes before getting the ferry back to Menaggio.
After dinner we walked into town. There was extremely loud music in the car park next to the hotel until 2am. It was like trying to sleep in a night club. Gave up and danced on the balcony for a while.
Day 7: Woke tired and grumpy. David escaped to the gym (coward.)
Morning by the pool, boys did not emerge from their room.
Drove to a viewpoint overlooking Lake Lugano. It was a long drive and a very confusing map. Ate a not very nice ice cream when we got there.
After dinner, a pianist played next to the pool. We listened for a while and James swam (not sure if he was meant to. He didn’t have inflatable crocodile with him, so am hoping it didn’t detract from the music too much.)
Day 8: Packed and left. Drove back to Milan for the flight home. It was very difficult to find a petrol station to refill the hire car before we returned it. Finally bought extremely expensive petrol from a man selling ‘especially refined diesel’.
Flew home. A good holiday.