Tag Archives: Garibaldi Como

Travels in Italy, Como to Bologna

Lake Como 1

The previous day we had walked east around the lake so today we walked west.  We thought that we might take a boat trip later but even as early as ten o’clock a long queue was beginning to form at the booking office so we decided to leave that until later.  We are not very fond of queues.

So we walked past the boats and the ferry terminal and set out towards the expensive side of the lake where the nineteenth century palaces and villas all enjoy wonderful views across the water.  What a place this must have been before all of the daily tourists arrived.  This was a walk past fabulous houses and gardens, private jetties and boat houses, a place where the European rich would gather for their holidays and show off their wealth.

Gianni Versace lived in Como and so did the singer Madonna and the actor George Clooney, also Julia Roberts, David Beckham, Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta Jones.  It is that sort of place, glamorous and filthy rich.  I am completely unable to explain what we were doing there!

Como Villa 2

As we walked we came across a diversion around possibly the best villa of all on the lake, all fenced off and swarming with security guards, the sort of people who want you to look at them in a funny way so that they have an excuse to punch you in the face.  This was all because this was a party weekend to celebrate the engagement of Isha Ambani and Anand Piramal who are two of the richest people in all of India, probably the world, and the expense here was obscene.

Why Como I wondered, probably because they were too embarrassed to have such a lavish event in their own country in front of the hundreds of thousands of really poor people.

As it turned out these mega-rich people had taken over the whole town for the entire weekend and much of it was off-limits to people like us.  We couldn’t visit the gardens that are normally open to the public, we couldn’t walk down some of the roads in the town because they were cordoned off and worst of all we couldn’t go into the Cathedral because these two Hindus were having an engagement celebration in a Roman Catholic Church and stopping other people going inside.  Filthy rich, dirty money, no manners.  I’m not jealous!

So we kept walking until there was no reason to walk any further and we turned back and walked back the way the same way.  I asked a security guard what was going on and that is how I learned about Isha Ambani and Anand Piramal and got the black eye!

We hoped that the queue for the boat might have magically got shorter but it hadn’t, it was even longer now and as we sat at a pavement bar and had a leisurely coffee it occurred to us that we didn’t really need to go for a boat ride anyway.  We had walked both east and west and as the lake is less than a mile across we were unlikely to see anything different anyway, so we saved the cost of a boat ride and had a beer instead.

Como Cathedral

I liked Como, I had never thought about going to the Italian Lakes before, I always thought that they were for old people, but I am an old person now myself so it seemed the right time to go there.  I didn’t really need three days there I have to say, maybe a day trip out of Milan would have been enough, it is nice but it is not very exciting.

Later we found the inevitable statue of Garibaldi…

Garibaldi Como

We had walked ten miles today along the lakeside.  We dined at the same restaurant, went to bed, had breakfast and left.

This was not a good day on the trains I have to say.  We got on a train to Milan which turned out not to be going to our destination station so we got off half way to change only to find that the train that we wanted had been cancelled so we had to get back on a train to Milan which also wasn’t going to our destination station.  This involved a change  and an irritating delay.  We planned to be in Bologna by early afternoon but now the clock was ticking.

And then things went disastrously wrong and travel plans started to completely unravel.  I bought some tickets for the fast train to Bologna but then got on the slow train to Bologna by mistake.  By a cruel twist of fate two trains were leaving Milan at exactly the same time to Bologna, the fast train was going to Naples, stopping at Bologna but we didn’t understand that so we ignored it and got on a train going only to Bologna.

Sadly it wasn’t only going to Bologna.  The fast train took just an hour, the slow train took nearly three.  The train crawled along like a long distance runner with a pulled muscle, it stopped at every tiny station and remote halt along the way and would occasionally stop in the middle of absolutely nowhere.  As we were wondering why, the modern fast train would suddenly thunder past at the speed of light with a loud whooomp that made our carriage rock with the aftershock and then after a minute or so our old arthritic train would creak back into life, roll backwards for a while and then crawl slowly forward.

The only thing that made me feel better about the whole thing was that another couple a few seats away had made exactly the same mistake.  Finally we limped into Bologna about four hours behind schedule and ignoring the line of expectant taxis walked the mile or so to our accommodation on the edge of the historical centre.

Click on an image to scroll through the gallery of Como…

 

Click on an image to scroll through the gallery of Bologna…

 

Travels in Italy, Milan to Lake Como

Milan Central Station

“This lake exceeds anything I ever beheld in beauty. It is long and narrow, and has the appearance of a mighty river winding among the mountains and the forests” – Percy Bysshe Shelley

After an average breakfast at the Hotel IBIS we checked out and fearing chaotic queues swiftly made our way to the Central Station.  Two days earlier we had arrived in the dark and had not fully appreciated just what a magnificent building this is, almost as good, it has to be said, as the Cathedral in the heart of the city.  Completed in 1931 it is built in the Italian Fascist style with a combination of brutalism and neo-classicism.  It shouldn’t really work but it does.

Buying a train ticket in Italy isn’t especially easy because Italians have the same ill-discipline in a railway station booking hall as they do when they are driving on the roads.  They don’t especially like queuing and will constantly switch lines just like suddenly changing lanes on a motorway, they are impatient and have zero tolerance for anyone that struggle with the automatic ticket machines.  Lose concentration for a fraction of a second and you will find two or three people suddenly ahead in the queue who weren’t there previously.

It was only a short journey of thirty minutes or so through unremarkable countryside and stopping frequently at a succession of graffiti scarred concrete stations of no special significance until the tired and scruffy train finally approached the foothills of the Alps and the southern tip of the lake and the railway station.

Lake Como

We chose to walk from the station to the accommodation, I always choose to walk rather than take a taxi, I don’t like taxis, it was about a mile away to the edge of the water and the lakeside fringe of the town and after we had found it, checked in and approved it we ventured out onto the streets.

To begin with we explored the town centre and found somewhere for a coffee and then we made our way inevitably towards the lake.

East or west? We chose east and we walked around the lake as far as we could until we came to a hotel car park and lido and a dead-end so we were obliged to turn around and walk back in the same direction running the gauntlet for a second time of a succession of insistent waiters all touting for business in the sprawling ribbon of restaurants and cafés that lined this section of the lake.  We declined every invitation because Como turned out to be rather expensive and whilst I like to sit at a pavement table and enjoy a beer or a glass of wine I find it less enjoyable when the cost is higher than my skinflint budget allows.

To be fair these places were in prime position overlooking the lake and probably entitled to charge a premium so we headed towards the periphery of the town in search of a place with prices more to our liking and after thirty minutes or so found exactly what we were looking for.

Como Funicular

Later we walked around the attractive town in search of somewhere to eat and came across a traditional trattoria and enjoyed a simple pasta meal.  We took our time over the meal and relaxed, we had walked nine miles today.

One of the main tourist attractions in Como is a funicular railway which links lakeside Como to the elevated town of Brunate over one thousand, six hundred feet higher and with commanding views of the town and the lake.  It seemed to us to be forever busy and when we walked past there was a queue much longer than my short patience quota so the next day we started early and took a ride before breakfast to the top.

We sauntered along the mountain paths looking for the best views which sadly were few and far between blotted out as they were by the high fences of the expensive houses and villas which decorate the mountain top. Eventually we reached a panoramic viewing point and below us we could enjoy the red-roofed town and the shining blue lake below with a panoramic view across to Switzerland barely five miles to the west.

Lake Como is a curious shape rather like the three-legged crest of the Isle of Man, after Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore it is the third largest lake in Italy and at one thousand three hundred feet deep it is the third deepest lake in Europe after Lakes Hornindalsvatnet and Tinnsjå, both in Norway.

We spent a very pleasant hour or so at Brunate but quickly ran out of things to do so took the funicular back to Como and swaggered smugly past the long queue that was beginning to form. We stopped for breakfast now and as we ate planned our itinerary for the remainder of the day.

Como Postcard

Travels in Italy, Garibaldi in Milan

Garibaldi Milan

Garibaldi is the only wholly admirable figure in modern history.” –  A.J.P. Taylor (English Historian)

Almost every town and city in Italy has a statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi.  After the creation of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861 the State worked hard at making sure Garibaldi would be perpetually remembered and the number of streets, piazzas and statues named after him makes him probably the most commemorated secular figure in history.

This is a good one, he looks so proud, so noble, so triumphant and yet in a way so modest and unassuming.

When I visit Italy it has become a sort of challenge for me to find the statue of Garibaldi.  If I went more regularly to Germany then I am sure that I would look for statues of Otto Von Bismarck.

More Garibaldi Statues…

Giuseppe in Pisa

Giuseppe in Padova

Giuseppe in Venice

Giuseppi in Naples

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…