Europe trip day 22-32
After Liechtenstein we drove for three hours to arrive at our next destination Italy. For four nights we stayed in Cernobbio, a small village on Lago di Como (Lake Como), a lake of glacial origin in Lombardy. With an area of 146 square kilometres it is the third largest lake in Italy, after Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore.
Our apartment in Cernobbio, located on the fourth floor of a quaint building constructed in the 1800s has loads of character. The buildings in the villages are steeped in history, which fascinates someone from Australia whose history is young. I admire how people renovate but keep the original exterior appearance of the building and therefore maintain the history and character of the town. Where I live in Australia, it seems people knock down older houses and buildings to put up modern structures that in my opinion have neither character nor charm.
During our time in Cernobbio the weather remained sunny and warm every day making perfect sightseeing conditions. I always enjoy being by water watching boats traveling up and down the lake. Water is timeless and mesmerizing. The lake draws people down to the water’s edge to walk, sit, read, exercise their dogs and generally enjoy the scenery and fresh air.
We took the funicular to Brunate a small village overlooking the city of Como, 500 metres below. At the top we looked over the rooftops of the city and wandered along small steep roads through the village wondering what it would be like to live here. Como and Brunate are linked by a steep, narrow, winding road, and by the funicular.
Como has several sacred buildings including the Duomo built between the 13th and 18th centuries with a mix of gothic and renaissance features and an inspiring collection of tapestries. Not usually one for wandering through cathedrals I was amazed and moved by this place of worship that towers over Como city. I felt a sense of history while walking around the cobble stone streets looking at the various ancient buildings. Although people were around it seemed eerily quiet giving me a peculiar feeling like time was standing still.
Another of our adventures was a leisurely boat trip to Bellagio, a beautiful Italian lakeside village. We spent a magical afternoon in the sunshine strolling the narrow lane-ways after enjoying a delicious lunch at a restaurant right on the edge of the lake. It was a perfect day I will cherish forever. Days like these explain why we venture away from our lives to travel to see other places.
On our last day in Cernobbio we drove to Tremezzo to see Villa Carlotta, a large mansion from the 17th century, to explore the majestic house and beautifully maintained gardens.
All too soon our time in Cernobbio ended and we drove to Rodello in the vineyard area of Piedmont, taking about four hours. The last hour of driving was on narrow roads that seemed like people’s driveways rather than public roads. The flowers and crosses attached to the railings along the way made us a little uneasy but we drove cautiously and made it safely.
Our home for seven days was a small country cottage in Rodello surrounded by vineyards. The hills surrounding Alba are home to some of the Piedmont’s and Italy’s best red wines. Within a relatively short distance of one another lie some of Italy’s best known wine towns. While touring the Piedmont area we visited Barolo, Serralunga d’Alba, Barbaresco, Bra, Neive and Castagnole delle Lanze, tasting the local wines and eating local ravioli and other delicacies of the area.
We visited Acqui Terme where 75-degree spring water flows in the middle of the town centre. We touched the water and it was boiling and had a strong odour of sulfur. Local people fill giant bottles with the water that they believe has healing qualities.
It took some time to understand and fit in with the pace of life in the Italian countryside. The shops open in the morning until 12 then close and re-open at 3.30pm. Italy’s economy is suffering and we sensed the impact this is having on the local people who appear to lack vibrancy. We visited many small villages that seem sleepy and deserted and often asked each other “where are all the people?”