Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Lake Como: A First Glimpse of Italy
The first time I went to Lake Como, I was 19 -- a few years before I met my husband and a full five years before this photo above was taken. I'd been a part of a college dance group that first time, and we were representing the USA at a large folk dance festival in northern Italy. We entered the country from Switzerland, not stopping at any large cities or seeking out the well-known landmarks, and we stayed for a full week on the outskirts of Como. During the day, we were in parades and we hung out with the dancers and musicians from other countries -- talking, flirting, eating truly enormous quantities of gelato -- and during the night we danced.
It was great fun, but it was also a little difficult for me to be so very close to Venice, Florence and Rome and NOT see ANY of those cities on that first trip... I did, however, see the lovely city of Como. And I can tell you now, that alone was enough to ensure my desire to go back. Not only so I would be able to explore the rest of Italy, but specifically to return to the beauty of the Italian Lake District.
I knew exactly what I was going to do when I got back there again. I was going to relax in the sunshine and stroll along the floral walking paths. I was going to sit at a quaint cafe in the middle of town, scuffing my sandals at the uneven stone beneath my feet. I was going to admire the water sparkling in the daylight and imagine what it must be like to live in one of those pastel-colored hillside villas.
When I did return, however, it was with my new fiance -- a man who had a very different idea of "relaxing." We did stroll for a while along the paths. We did eat something at a cafe (I remember a rather delicious ravioli one night). And we did admire the the gorgeous lake. But my husband-to-be was a man of action, and he didn't really want to stay on the gentle walking path. So he talked me into going for a pedalo ride one afternoon on the lake -- peddling this little, reddish, floating contraption that required a bit more of a cardio workout than I'd been anticipating.
But that still wasn't enough activity for him.
No, we'd no sooner docked our pedalo boats when he started talking about seaplanes with the owner of one who was standing near the shore. Initially, I just thought it was a guy thing -- "Oh, look! Something with an engine! How fast does it go?" -- but I was wrong on that. My husband's father is a pilot. A former Thunderbird from WWII, in fact. His son didn't just want to TALK about the plane, he wanted to get in it. And he wanted me to get in it, too.
My attempts at resistance ("Um, isn't that kinda dangerous, honey? We don't know enough Italian to deal well with a medical emergency...") were pretty much ignored and, once I'd made it through lift off, I forgot my own hesitations. If I thought Lake Como looked beautiful from the ground, it looked simply gorgeous from the air.
These days, if I'm remembering the tabloid details correctly -- and if they're true, LOL -- George Clooney has a villa somewhere in the area. (We'll visit him next time.) But you don't have to be a handsome, multi-millionaire actor to feel like a celebrity walking (or flying) around this stunning lake. It just happens that you will.
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I don't have to tell those of you here about my Virtual European Travel/Book Tour -- you know all about it ;). But I do have the itinerary updated and listed on the first page of my website. The French Riviera and Pisa will be next week (plus an Austen birthday celebration), with Vienna, Brussels and Paris coming up soon after.
And, finally, I was really delighted to be asked to contribute "five book suggestions for romantics" to the Goodreads December Newsletter. My recommendations are here and I'd LOVE your thoughts on them! In celebration of A Summer in Europe and my love of both Italy and England, I'm giving away two sets of holiday ornaments -- each pair contains a Big Ben and a Leaning Tower of Pisa ornament. If you leave a comment on either this post or the Goodreads one, you're entered to win a set. If you leave comments on both, you're entered twice!
Hugs and thanks for being so awesome...and wishing you all a happy start to December!! xox