29.05.2015 - 29.05.2015
We out for breakfast to a café near the gate to the city. We sat on the street and enjoyed coffee and croissant. This is something I have consistently enjoyed in Italy. Bill has heat rash on his feet and wanted to rest his feet today, so he decided not join in the activities.
Andrew suggested we walk to Rifugio Mennagio (Refuge above Mennagio). It is a point to which people walk. We walked about 2 kilometres to get the car and then commenced our drive going north along the western side of the lake. It is a slow drive as the roads are generally narrow – in some cases the traffic can only flow one way and lights are set up to control this. It was a beautiful drive along shore of the lake. We drove through numerous very appealing villages. This is one of the appealing things about Lake Como – there are numerous villages all along the shore and often up higher as well. You see the same thing on the eastern side of the lake as well. The mountains beside the lake get higher, and even more rugged, as you travel north. In some cases they were massive cliffs. In one case there was a ledge about half way down a cliff and a little building of some sort was perched on this ledge. The Tom-tom did not work all that well as there were a few lengthy tunnels and also the steep mountains can hinder the signal – so we made a few wrong turns. When we got to the village of Menaggio we left the main road and started to climb up the steep mountain (there were so many hairpin bends and the road was very narrow) to the little village of Breglia where the walk starts. We set off up a steep pathway through very nice forest. I noticed a lot of birch trees and a variety of other trees. I noticed the sign at the start stated 1.00 as the distance. I thought “good – it might be steep but it is only 1 kilometre!” A little further on the sign stated the distance to be 0.5 – which seemed to me I had gone ½ a kilometre in a short time. I must be going well I thought! However the steep climb seemed to go on forever. I thought it was the longest ½ kilometre I had ever done! I passed some other walkers and asked how far to the Refuge and they said another 20 minutes. I then realised that the 1.00 meant one hour and the .5 meant 50 minutes! It was a tough climb – it gave my heart a good work over. There was a lot of haze which obscured the view of the lake – but it was still good. As we got higher we could look up and see the peaks above – they were very impressive – very rugged. Near the end the path levels out with a steep drop on one side and a steep rise on the other (you would not want to fall) – it was a quintessential mountain track – very enjoyable on the flatter parts.
Andrew got to the Refuge first – I came a bit later. There was a spring water fountain at the top – the water was cold and very sweet – it was wonderful to drink from the fountain. The views all around and up higher were magnificent. The Refuge is a building were hikers can stay but it is not open at present – too early in the season. We relaxed, drunk the cool water, took photos and then walked back. The walk back did not take nearly so long. But I was glad to get back to the car.
We then had the drive back. Italian drivers are often very relaxed about road rules. When we were in La Spezia a man stopped his car in the middle of the road and went into a shop to buy a paper. He got his paper and then drove on – he did give us a wave when he got back to his car. When they park they will often have quite a bit of their car jutting out onto the road. If the road is narrow this can pose a hazard. Getting back to today, at one of the one way traffic parts, a four wheel drive towing a boat in the opposite direction went through a red light controlling the traffic flow. There were only inches between us when he passed! We are thankful we got back safely.
Note for David - a lot of cyclists use the road round the lake. It would be a very scenic ride and lots of places to stop for refreshments.
I was reminded today about “The Barchester Chronicles” and the Stanhopes. Madeline Stanhope, the daughter with a dark past, had lived at Lake Como. As I remember, Doctor Stanhope had taken leave of his responsibilities in the Church due to a sore throat and had been living in Italy for 12 years – spending his time there collecting butterflies! To her credit Mrs. Proudie put an end to that! I think Lake Como came into Doctor Stanhope’s travels as well. This is a bit of trivia about Lake Como. It is funny how things come back to you when your memory is jogged. I was reminded of a Seinfeld episode about Tuscany when we were in Siena (Siena is located in Tuscany). I laughed at it again.
We got back it was about 4.00pm
Bill spent the day sorting out photos (he has taken a lot of photos), going to the supermarket and generally relaxing.
After we relaxed a bit in the apartment we out to the square in front of the cathedral and had dinner. We all had pizzas – a nice meal in a very pleasant location. The piano busker came along pushing his grand piano (he has it on wheels) and entertained us – very nice.