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.

~ . ~ . ~

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


Edie Ramer said...

I'm enjoying this tour so much. The pictures are gorgeous. You look so young and cute! I definitely want to go to Lake Como now.

I wasn't surprised to see Pride & Prejudice on your list. I suppose you couldn't put your own book on it. Too bad. lol

Marilyn Brant said...

Edie, it's amazing how the years go by, isn't it?! I laugh when I look at a lot of these old pictures -- I was pretty young! And I considered myself "fashion conscious" if I matched my socks to my outfit, LOL.

debbie h said...

Oh my Gosh, it is incredible how fast time flies and the older I get the faster it flies. I'm not surprised either to see the Austen on your list and it's been ages since I've read anything by her, maybe if I find the time I should re-visit some of my favorite classics and one day many years from now we'll see another selection on that list "One Summer in Europe" is bound to be a classic
Happy Holidays everyone!!


Robin said...

Thanks for sharing another wonderful experience with us! Your pictures were beautiful, and I'm thinking of having gelato for breakfast now. ;)

Jakki L. said...

Again, Marilyn, I am loving your photos! They are so beautiful!
Thanks for sharing tis and for the beautiful ornament giveaway!

Jennifer said...

I love all the tour posts -- makes me feel like i'm there :)

Pamala Knight said...

I agree with whomever said that your tour posts paint such vivid pictures. I feel the sun on my face and the wind in my hair when you describe Lake Como and your adventures. Thanks for sharing and I'll check back once I've gone over to see your favorites.


Marilyn Brant said...

Deb, you are a wonderful and infinitely kind optimist, and I adore you!! Thanks ;). As for Austen, I need to carve out some time to reread her, too. I think there are new things I'd pick up now...

Robin, I had gelato VERY early in the morning -- more than once -- so I'm in agreement with you! I'm giving a program at the library tonight and they've ordered a tub of gelato for the occasion. Wish you all lived near enough that I could drag you there :).

Jakki, you're most welcome and thank YOU for taking time to visit these posts and brighten my day with your comments!

Jennifer, thank you!! You and I have a date with George Clooney, Brad and Angelina over there...and soon...LOL

Marilyn Brant said...

*waving back*
Thanks so much for saying that, my friend. I appreciate it. Miss seeing you! xox

Liz V. said...

We crossed from Austria into Italy via the Brenner Pass (what an engineering marvel) but stayed only long enough to have a cool drink. Would love to see more of Italy, particularly Lake Como.

Looked at your Goodreads list, and yet more books to read.

ruthhill74 said...

I love these absolutely gorgeous pictures! Thanks for the chance! Love the ornaments!

Marilyn Brant said...

Liz, I've got my fingers crossed that you'll get to go back to Europe to see everything you loved again and anything you may have missed... ;) I wish that for me, too!

Ruth, thank you! So glad you're enjoying the photos and that you like the ornaments, as well. I thought they were so cute when I found them!

Brett said...

The scenery pictures are great, but that gelato photo...OMG...I could dive face first into that and be in heaven for hours. :-)

And aren't you glad that your husband talked you into "going along for the ride" with him...in that plane and for the many many years that have followed. ;-)

I MUST get to Italy someday!


Beth Watson said...

Oh my gosh Marilyn, Lake Como from the air must have been spectacular. I can't wait to go there someday. I've heard such great things about it. I've missed several days on your itinerary but hope to stop in next week. I'm in Orlando (not nearly as glamorous as your blog locales) but hope to visit Paris and some more great cities with you. Love all the pics you've been sharing!

Thanks for the wonderful trip!

Marilyn Brant said...

Brettski, you are going to LOVE Italy when you go someday, I just know it! And the Italians are going to love a man who appreciates ice cream like you do ;).

Beth, Orlando??!! I'm so envious of the warm temps you must be getting down there, and I hope you've been having a good work week away. Knowing how much you've enjoyed other spots in Italy, I'm sure you'd love Lake Como, too. It was very pretty from the air!

To everyone, I'll do the drawing for the ornaments on Sunday. Until then, hope you all have a wonderful weekend!!

Dolly said...

I'm enjoying your tour so!

I was pleased that I was familiar with 3 of your 5 recommends; I'll have to check out All About Evie and The Witch of Blackbird Pond.

Marilyn Brant said...

Dolly, thank you!! I'm thrilled you're enjoying the "travel tour" -- it's been such fun for me, too ;). Hope you'll like both 'Evie' and 'Blackbird'! Elizabeth George Speare's story really captured my imagination as a kid and I still love it... Have a great weekend!