Apparently, among the Italians, there are more than a few jokes about Bellagio and its location on the anatomy of the stick figure some see in the shape of Lake Como.
Tasteless, no doubt, but now I REALLY wished I’d learned some Italian. I suppose those jokes were on a par with the ones we used to tell about the old Y-Inn south of Millersburg. Sophomoric at best. But hilarious when you’re about 12 years old.
Well, as charming as Varenna is, there were plenty of people trying to get out.
And onto one of these:
The ferry runs to Bellagio about every half-hour to hour, depending on the season and it takes about 10 minutes to get over there. One bonus is the opportunity to see your home town from the water.
Soon we were all boarded, an in no time we were approaching our destination. Bellagio only has 200 permanent residents and lodging for another 900. Needless to say, tourism is the name of the game.
From our B&B this is the view.
The town center is to the right with numerous shacks spread out along the shore. Places like this:
There are three docks and the crew likes to surprise you by keeping secret the one at which they will pick you up when it’s time to go home. But, we soon were making our way toward one of them to get off and see the sights.
When you land you find yourself on the hotel-and-shop-lined main street.
To the left, where you see the shades, is an endless series of cafe’s and small shops and then much larger shops down the way. This is the high-rent district in a high-rent town. We stopped at one of the cafe’s for coffee, then took an amusing stroll down this street, peering into various windows, as so on. Then we promptly got the hell out. Instead, we decided to follow the riff-raff up the hill.
And, quite the hill it was! Also shop-lined but slightly less likely to require the mortgaging of your US home to make a purchase. At the top of the hill is another street and, thankfully, even more shops!
As you can see, Dianne observed admirable, almost saintly, restraint!
One thing that was somewhat challenging was that, even though, this street is clearly occupied by pedestrians, the very life-blood of the city, the locals don’t mind seeing a little of that blood spilled so they can move their crappy cars down the boulevard. For example:
As the street narrows ever further, one thing you learn in a hurry is to twist your piggies parallel to the wall of the shop you are currently pinned up against.
Well, there are beautiful things in these shops that even I could appreciate. The only reason I have not had to pawn the very computer I’m writing this on is that we could not fit any of this stuff in our luggage and mailing made things even more cost-prohibitive with delivery not promised in ones lifetime. Bummer!
George Clooney’s villa is somewhere around here, a little farther south we were told. But apparently from time to time he will ride his motorcycle up here and putz around. The locals don’t pester him though. They understand the need to have a sanctuary. Especially since the release of the Panama Papers. Besides, just having him around is good for business.
This is as close as we got to his house:
We got back to Varenna in time to head out for dinner. I’ll give you a brief rundown of our culinary experience in this town.
The first night we walked along the shore and made our way to a very nice open air restaurant by the ferry dock. They were cultivating wisteria on the ceiling, which, by now, I imagine, is much greener.
They bought a bag of bread sticks. Most of the restaurants we visited across Italy served bread in bags of one form or another, so we bought a bread bag to bring home.
This was my first official meal in Italy, Lake Como perch on risotto. It was quite yummy, but a couple days ago I had the Lake Erie version. No contest.
The next night we decided on pizza, which is only natural. So, here’s another confession: I love anchovies. I know, I know. Well, since this is the actual home of the anchovy, I thought what better way to enjoy them than in the home of the pizza! Viola!
You will note that Dianne declined to join me in this adventure and chose a much more sensible alternative. I was surprised to find that my poor little fishies had been subject to the same abuse over here that they were at the hands of King Oscar back home, flattened and salted to death. But they still were quite tasty, so all was well.
On our last night we consulted TripAdvisor to locate the number one restaurant in Varenna. We settled for #2, Al Prato, since it was right across from the gate of our B&B. As the tour books will tell you, Italians like the dinner experience go start late and go well into the night. To make that happen, you begin with the antipasti, (which never once in our time in Italy, included the antipasto salad we know so well in the US), then the primi piatti, or first course, then the secondi piatti, the second course, then dessert. Well, that is a boat load of food. Mostly we picked two or three of the options. So here was Al Prato:
I know, I know. Now people, you would normally never get me near an octopus except in an aquarium, but I read SO many comments from people who thought it was the best thing ever! And, believe me, I could easily have gotten more adventurous in this country where routine options include horse meat and brains. Smoked octopus was as far down that road as I was willing to go. And, it was pretty darn good. Dianne didn’t care for it at all. She favored the meat sampler, which we shared:
I had a beef dish, which was excellent.
Dianne went for the chicken, which she also liked very much.
Then we shared our first, but by no means last, tiramisu.
By the time dinner was over the sun had set which made a walk along the lake the perfect way to work off a billion calories.
Varenna was the perfect first stop for us. Relaxing, but interesting at the same time. When we left, it was a sad goodbye. Well, as sad as you can be when you know what’s coming next.