Once I got out of my riding gear on Thursday, had a shower and grabbed a cold one, it was time to take stock of where I had arrived.
We are in Como, the city at the South Western end of Lago di Como / Lake Como in Lombardy, Italy. The lake owes its existence to ancient glacial activity. It has an area of 146 square kilometres/56 sq mi, making it the third-largest lake in Italy, after Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore. At over 400 metres/1300 feet deep, it is one of the deepest lakes in Europe and the bottom of the lake is more than 200 metres/660 ft below sea level!
In 1818 Percy Shelley wrote about the place, “This lake exceeds anything I ever beheld in beauty, with the exception of the arbutus islands of Killarney. It is long and narrow, and has the appearance of a mighty river winding among the mountains and the forests.” OK Shelley, it’s nice, but maybe not as exquisite as you make out.
Locally the lake is claimed to be the most beautiful in the world. I have to take issue on that point as I rate Llyn Talyllyn/Talyllyn Lake in Wales top of the pile, with maybe Loch Insch in the Scottish Highlands a close second, but hey, such things are personal!
What I can say is that Lago di Como is certainly very big and very impressive!
It’s also central to the local economy in many different ways, tourism being the number one economic driver. Another important role that the lake facilitates is transport, there are over forty ferry terminals along the shores and islands of the lake, which enjoy standard, car or high-speed ferry services from early in the morning until late in the evening.
The ferries are an excellent way to view the lake and get to it’s villages, I can report by experience that driving along the lakeside roads is a slow and painful undertaking!
Over breakfast this morning the weather looked a tad threatening and I was sure that I could hear distant thunder. True to my predictions, by ten o’clock the heavens opened and for half an hour the emptied onto the city of Como. We needed that, the air had been oppressive, heavy and stormy, but after the rain everything freshened up beautifully. In light of the better air, Mrs Dookes and I decided to take the half hour ferry ride to Moltrasio for lunch.
Leaving Como the last vestiges of the storm were still hanging in the mountains and the lake surface still a tad choppy with a keen northerly breeze. The outward ferry was the large “Orione,” which while a bit plastic is quite well equipped with bars, restaurants and comfortable passenger saloons.
The thirty minute journey slipped by very quickly and after disembarking we had super views across the lake to Torno.
After a light but enjoyable lunch we decided to head back to Como and the shops. I persuaded Mrs D that we should take one of the smaller ferries that zig-zag across the lake and take a bit longer but looked considerably more fun than the bigger boats. I wasn’t wrong, the little vessel was superb fun, lively in the water with a good turn of speed and a lovely motion, I was in my element! Whilst I bounced around all over the vessel, Mrs Dookes stayed in the saloon for the whole trip.
OK I did get a bit covered in spray, but at lest you could tell I’d been on a boat! I haven’t had so much fun on a boat in nearly 25 years when I used to help run an historic steam launch, but that’s another storyline!
Catch you later.