Como, Italy

We headed south this morning to the town of Como located at the base of the lake. The narrow road twists and turns as it follows the contours of the mountains. At some points, it’s best if you pull in the side mirrors on your Fiat so you can pass oncoming traffic without a scrape.

Once safely in town, we decided to ride the funicular (incline train) up the side of the mountain from Como to the village of Brunate. Mom and Miss Debbie entertained a young Italian in his baby stroller all the way up.

We also enjoyed listening to a group of high school students as they chattered away on their field trip. Laughter requires no translation.

Fall was more pronounced once we stepped into the higher altitude with cooler air and falling leaves. After enjoying views of the lake and mountains, we sat down at a small cafe for a light lunch and drinks. Miss Debbie charmed our waiter (who joked he’d bring her whisky if she desired).

We rode the train back down into town and found a parking garage (more on that adventure later). We walked past an older building, the Casa del Fascio, which stood out from all the classic Italian architecture. It was built in the 1930s under the regime of Benito Mussolini as the seat of the local branch of the National Fascist Party. Today, it serves as police headquarters.

In full contrast across the street towered the ornate, gothic Duomo di Como (Como Cathedral). Construction began in 1396 but didn’t finish until 1770. I’m pretty sure the contractor didn’t make his deadline on that one.

Visitors must wear appropriate clothing to enter churches in Italy including covering knees and shoulders. If you’re not hushed, the multitude of Silenzio! signs and glaring church volunteers will get the point across.

After strolling back out to the piazza, we wandered down several narrow streets lined with shops. Italian store hours usually include a long mid-day break with doors closed from about 1 p.m. to 3 or 4. One shop that wasn’t closed? A bakery we passed on our way back to the car. Check out these Italian treats.

We received a ticket from an automated machine when we pulled into the parking garage. After returning, I located the exit and we pulled up to another machine. Unfortunately, you were supposed to pay and have your ticket validated before you got to the exit.

With impatient Italians stacking their cars up behind me, I pulled our Fiat out of the way. After a hurried explanation (with lots of hand motions), I finally convinced an attendant to let us out. We’ll remember that next time!

An American living in Nesso recommended a restaurant in Molina, a small town higher up the mountain. We combined our limited Italian with the staffs’ English as they patiently explained the menu. We each tried something different and the dishes were uniformly excellent: light and delicious.

Of course, we had to sample some Italian dolci (sweets).

The restaurant’s pizza oven was all business with a dedicated cook who obviously knew what he was doing. We observed several customers order pizzas and we agreed we needed to come back for that reason alone.

We’ve grown to love our small, adopted hometown of Nesso along Lake Como. There’s plenty of hiking but what an incredible view. Today we found a bright shop that served drinks on the balcony with a tiny grocery store below. We sat in the warm sun and listened to the water crashing down the gorge into the lake as we enjoyed our afternoon aperitifs.

Yes, it’s not hard to fall in love with Italy: stunning scenery, incredible architecture, fascinating history and above all, friendly Italians. We continue to grow our vocabulary and they’re delighted as we try their language.

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