Tag Archives: Bellagio

Around the Alps – Lago di Como, St. Moritz & Salzburg

It seems to me that when organizers from the travel agency were planning the itinerary of this trip around the Alps they decided to take us places that gradually will get better and better. At least that’s the way I feel because the less days there were left until we’d go back to Poland, the more I liked the places we visited. Maybe it’s because we were getting closer to the mountains?

On Saturday (day 8) our tour bus took us to the Lake Como. First thing in the morning was a visit to Como itself. We continued a slow stroll along the lake as our guide continued to tell us the story of the city and the region in general. At some point we passed a park and a small square and entered a labyrinth of small streets. Those took us to a historic centre in Como, where a great basilic was reigning over the surroundings. But the buildings around were just as charming. These old-fashioned houses, their facades – each in a different color, wooden shutters framing the windows – it was a very Italian scenery that also made me feel like home. In the free time I visited the cathedral inside to have a look at all the paintings, frescos and sculptures. It was also when I had the best ice cream during the entire trip. At Pasticceria Tolini I bought a portion of white chocolate ice cream and oh my goodness. This ice cream was so creamy, velvety and full of great flavor. From Como we drove to Cernobbio – but that was just so that we could get on our boat ride to continue the day.

This time the ferry took us on a longer cruise. We were going to Bellagio but at first we moved in the opposite direction. Once we’ve seen some of the coast line, our water ride turned back and started to move in the actual direction where Bellagio is. The closer we were to this popular resort the bigger and more exclusive the villas located on the hills by the lake were getting. We finally arrived at the pier and all the memories returned alive. As you might remember I visited Bellagio on my own a few years back. The city still is exactly as I’ve remembered it. We started sightseeing of the city by going to the Northmost part of it. There’s a headland from where you can see how all 3 ‘arms’ of the lake intersect. Afterwards we checked out Chiesa di San Giorgio and during the free time I just strolled down the familiar streets. Together with few other people we wandered to the other side of the ‘peninsula’ where wany yachts were berthed, waiting for the next sail adventure. Eventually hunger started to remind of itself and I managed to score a generous piece of pizza melanzana (with eggplant). It was very tasty and satisfied my stomach. Hours passed really quickly and it was time to go back. Our next hotel was in Chiavenna, closer to the Swiss border. We arrived there relatively early in the afternoon and while some people preferred to relax, others went for a walk. Chiavenna turned out to have a slightly medieval mood and due to ongoing festival of wine almost everyone around had a pouch with a wine glass handing around their neck in a pouch.

Saturday was the last day of our trip but to me it was the day I was most looking forward to. After an early breakfast we travelled to Switzerland, to St. Moritz more precisely, so that we could ride on a train through the Alps. We took a special train called Bernina Express, from St. Moritz to Chur. It’s special because this train has panoramid windows that partly cover the carriage ceiling. There are also special mini-carriages with electronically opened windows. These allowed to take fantastic pictures without a glass between camera lense and photographed object. And no light reflecting in the window surface. Pictures turned out very clear, revealing lush green fields and meadows with such a juicy and intensive shade of green I have never seen before. The grass contasted with brown-grey mountains and their snow-covered tops. Almost every photo could be an official postcard from the Alps. And our express was red which looked great on the pictures. Our journey through the Swiss Alps took approximately 2 hours. It was a wonderful experience but I know I want to explore the Alps more, ideally from a closer distance. Upon our arrival in Chur, our bus was already waiting for us. It was the time to go back home. All good things come to an end.

Through Liechtenstein (with a mini break in Vaduz) every hour was getting us closer to Poland. Our road home was mostly in Austria and around 8 PM there was a one final surprise waiting for us. We arrived in Salzburg where we were taken for an evening walk around the city. Our guide was a Polish woman living there for 20 years and the way she talked about the history and people of the city was really engaging, it was a pleasure to listen. That weekend was also a celebration of St. Rupert, patron of Salzburg. According to our guide the squares that we walked through normally are empty but for this occassion they were brimming with nightlife and were filled with beer, streetfood stands. We’ve seen a house where Mozart was born and a house where his family lived later. We didn’t have a chance to try (too late) so we were salivating looking at Mozartkugel (Mozart ball) pralines in the sweets shop windows. The city was quite picturesque and I think that the light of all the lanterns made it particularly pretty. This walk took us around 2 hours and as far as I remember it was 10:30 PM when we were leaving. We spend the rest of the night on the bus, trying to sleep and find a more comfortable position. It was 7 AM on Monday when our bus made it back to Woszczyce.

Just like on the day of our departure, we had to wait for other trips to arrive. Once all 10 buses gathered together (isn’t it crazy that 9 other holiday trips ended on the same day?) we were assigned to different vehicles depending on the cities we were returning to. It was time to say goodbye to all the people I befriended during those 10 days. We exchanged emails to send each other some of the photos and parted our ways. Who knows, we might meet again on one of these trips again, someday. I was back home for dinner and I spent the rest of the week relaxing at home. And so my holidays came to an end and I returned to work on September 30.

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Italics, or my summer travelogue – part 2 of 3

After enjoying almost 2 days in Milan I was really looking forward to the upcoming change of scenery. It was actually my mom who looked up this location for me & I’m glad she did, as I enjoyed this part of my summer vacation the most. 3 days at Lake Como were meant for me to relax and laze away. I really felt as if time slowed down there. Lake and mountains make a wonderful landscape.

At the lake side I stayed in a small town named Lecco. Not that very touristy, it was possible to spend a quiet time there and feel like a local person. I had a late afternoon check-in but the weather was so nice I got to enjoy a walk around neighborhood and a dinner at a small restaurant. Unfortunately some bad weather front passed to Italy above the Alps overnight, so the next day had an awful weather. I was fighting my thoughts what to do. The plan was to go on a cruise on the lake, but in this weather it was a no. In the end I decided that Bergamo was less important to me. I decided to visit it despite the rain. Equipped with umbrella I took a 40 minutes train trip there.

The weather didn’t change any bit during the day so I just decided to accept the fact that it’s raining & see what I could see anyway. Thanks to my short research earlier I knew that visiting Citta Alta (Upper Town) will be the best as it’s the old part of Bergamo and features most of the things worth seeing while there. From the train station I took a bus from which I dropped off at the first fonicolare station. Fonicolare, a funicular or cable railway is sort of carriage that climbs up the steep hill. The first one I took in Bergamo connects Citta Bassa (Lower Town) with Citta Alta.

After a short ride uphill I started to explore the historic part of the city. Piazza Vecchia is considered a main square within Upper Town and it concentrates several objects for sightseeing, such as Duomo di Bergamo (main cathedral), Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, Battistero (baptistery) & Biblioteca Civica Angelo Mai (library). After visiting all of them I continued my walk to Porta Sant’ Alessandro, where there is another fonicolare. Fonicolare S. Vigilio takes you all the way up to the highest place in Bergamo – Castello San Vigilio. I was expecting a full-fledged castle to visit but it was more like ruins. Despite that a wonderful panoramic view is provided.

If you have a sweet tooth, take a quick break to try Bergamo specialty, a sweet polenta or polentina as they are sometimes called. It’s a sponge cake with hazelnut cream filling, covered with yellow marzipan on top, often decorated with a chocolate bird figurine on top. It’s sweet to the extreme, that’s why I only had a tiny one. To burn of some of those callories you might consider a tour along Viale delle Mura – it’s quite a long street that makes almost a full circle around Citta Alta, it’s a bit lower than Upper Town, allowing you to take great pictures of both parts of the city.

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The next day the weather turned 180° for my benefit, it was a perfect day for a cruise on the lake. I took Bellagio as a destination of my water trip as I’ve heard that it’s one of the most beautiful places by the Como lake. The ferry was travelling for 1,5 hours, having a few stops on its way. Kind of like a water bus. The cruise was very enjoyable and there were lots of beautiful sights on the way. Upon getting closer to Bellagio my eyes must have been full of sparkles, the view was simply breathtaking.

After stepping on a solid ground again I knew I’d have a nice day there. Bellagio is a very specific place where it feels as if time stood still. It’s not a summer resort as there is no real beach there. There are also no special sightseeing spots. In my opinion it’s a town you visit in order to forget about whole world & spend lazy hours wandering around charming, narrow streets and climbing the stairs (Bellagio is another town built on the hill). You can feel carefree and get lost a bit there.

In fact I got lost at one of the staircases that had multiple turns and ‘exits’. But thanks to that I accidentally found a way across the peninsula and reached the shore on the other side of Bellagio. It was even more picturesque. I reached the water nearby a small bay, with couple of white sailboats and something that looked almost like a beach made of small pebbles instead of sand. It looked very calm, peaceful – so I sat there and enjoyed the view for a while.

After seeing Chiesa San Giacomo I went to La Punta – a farthest point to the North in Bellagio that lets you see the magnificence of Lake Como. It’s also a place that lets you see how the lake forks out into its 3 arms (the lake is shaped like an upside down ‘Y’). Next I jumped on another ferry to swim across to the town of Varenna. Just as beautiful, if not even more beautiful than Bellagio, the town felt idyllic with its colorful buildings, all with red roofs, located at different height levels. I especially liked walking on a bridge-pavement that continued all along the coast.

After filling up my stomach with a dinner that consisted of delicious pasta and a drink made of orange juice and Campari I wandered around very narrow staircases until climbing up to the base of Castello di Vezio (I didn’t get on top though). It was quite high above the level of the water in the lake so the view of the surrounding area was lovely. And that’s how a whole day passed. When evening arrived I returned to Lecco by train. The next day I would go to a new place.

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