Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 678: Italia - Umbria, Lago di Garda, Lago di Como & Visits with Friends in Empoli and Coccaglio
By girasoli from Hawaii, Spring 2005
Page 18 of 24: Train Ride to Lago di Como - Bella Bellagio
I said goodbye to Katia's mother and thanked her again for a wonderful time. We stopped by Guido's so I could say goodbye and thank him again and then we were off to the train station. Because tickets are not sold at the Coccaglio train station and I did not get my ticket in advance, we went to the Rovato train station where the very crabby train ticket man works. As expected, he was in a very bad mood. I remembered him from a few years ago when Katia and I purchased train tickets to Milano. When we arrived, he was complaining to a policeman and ignoring the people waiting in line. The girl behind us became very upset and started yelling at him saying that he should just do his job and sell tickets because the train is about to arrive and she needed a ticket. Both Katia and I knew this would only make him even grumpier and take longer to get our tickets. Luckily, we arrived at the station with plenty of time before my train was to arrive.
After getting my tickets, we went to wait for the train. A little boy and his grandpa (Nonno) were also waiting for the train to arrive so that the little boy could watch the train come and then go. He was so cute. He became so excited when he finally saw the train in the distance and yelled, "stop" with his hands out when it arrived. I guess "stop" is a universal word. I sadly said goodbye to Katia and boarded the train.
To get to Bellagio, I had to change trains in Lecco and then take a Ferry from Varenna. The ride to Lecco was fine except for the one moment when the train made a funny noise and then just stopped. Everyone looked at each other with sort of a panicked look as if to say are we going to be stuck here for hours? But luckily a few minutes later, the train started up again and ended up being only a few minutes late.
I arrived on Binario 6. I looked for the yellow Partenza sign that lists all the train departure times but there was no signs on this Binario and so I carried my roll on bag, which seems to be getting heavier each time I take a train, down the steps and found the sign underneath where you will find all the stairs to each binario are and also the exit to the town of Lecco. I found my train time and looked for my stop to Varenna. Varenna was not listed as a stop on this train even though I had the stop listed on the sheet that I printed from the Trenitalia site. There were also three Australian girls reading the same train info and wondering why Varenna was not listed as a stop on this same train. Often little stops are not listed on the main list but there is another place on the right side of the Partenza page where the smaller town stops are usually listed.
I had about 15 minutes before the train I thought I needed to take would arrive and so I decided to go to the first Binario, which meant carrying my bag up the steps, and found a conductor. He told me that the Varenna train will arrive at Binario 6 (the Binario I originally arrived at!) and just kept repeating Binario 6 even though I told him that the sign did not list Varenna as a stop for this train. I figured he knew what he was talking about and so I headed back down and up the stairs and also let the Australian girls know about the train and then waited for my train to arrive.
I talked with this sweet older Italian lady while waiting for the train. She told me all about the area and where she lived. The train was a few minutes late and there were tons of people waiting for the train but amazingly everyone got a seat. The views on this train were wonderful and as the conductor said, the train stopped in Varenna, another deserted train station. I had taken the train to Varenna two years ago and so I knew how to find the ferry from the train station. It was all down hill and when I arrived at the ferry, it was just about to leave and luckily I was able to board and buy my ticket on board. It was WONDERFUL to be back on the lake! The ferry first went to Menaggio (where I stayed last time) and then headed to Bellagio.
When I arrived in Bellagio, I took out my map that was on the website for the place where I was staying (Residence La Limonera) and looked for the best street to take to head up hill to the apartment. Every street seemed to have steps. I knew about a very long, steep street at one end of the town that went uphill without steps, but did not know about the shorter street at the other end near the church and so after passing quite a few streets straight up with steps, I chose Salita Mella (not the best of choices) thinking that all the streets would have steps. This street had many many steps with very rocky parts in between, a good test for my luggage wheels!
The map showed that I needed to cross once street before reaching the street the apartments were on. When I got the place where another street crossed the street I was on, I walked down a ways to see if any of the other streets that went further up the hill were without steps but no luck. I stopped in front of this wonderful looking gelateria and thought about stopping for a gelato as I was out of breath, hungry, and hot (the weather was in the mid 90's and muggy), but I figured that it would be better to get rid of my things first and so I went back to Salita Mella and headed further up. There were longer stretches between steps and my wheels made quite a racket as they rolled over the rocky road. A man stuck his head out a window and asked where I was going. I told him and he told me I went too far and that the street I just was on was the street where Residence La Limonera was located. I went back down and I couldn't believe it when I followed his directions! The place I was staying at was right across from the gelateria! If I had only turned around instead of drooling over all the gelato choices!!
I called the owner on my cell and waited about 10 minutes for her to arrive. She sounded a little put off that I had arrived and she needed to interupt her day to let me in. I did send her an email in advance telling her the time I was to arrive and her response indicated that it was not a problem to arrive at this time.
When she arrived, she showed me my room and explained how the key worked, etc, all very fast as if I was taking up all of her time. The apartment at Residence La Limonera that I was renting was a large studio apartment. It was nice except for two things. First, the floor was very dirty. There happened to be a broom in the apartment and right after I checked in, I swept up a big pile of dirt. Second, the showerhead did not stay in place. It was impossible to set it so that the water would go on you and many times it ended up falling down to the bottom of the shower and occasionally the water would shoot out all over the floor. Otherwise, it was in a good location and it was nice and quiet at night.
I was so happy to be in Bellagio! Before unpacking, I went and ate lunch at this little bar, Caffe' Vecchio Borgo which was right next door. I had a dish of pesto pasta, delicious! Next, I had the most delicious peach gelato at the gelateria across the way. This gelateria (Gelateria del Borgo) makes their own gelato and was almost as good as the gelateria in Montelupo. I thought it was definitely the best gelateria in Bellagio and there were many local people there whenever I stopped by.
After a late lunch, I went back to my apartment to do my laundry in the sink (another plus to the apartment was the semi-private garden area I shared with one other apartment with lots of places to dry my clothes). After finishing my laundry, I walked around, took some pictures, and then went back to shower and get ready for dinner. I had the lake fish, which was just ok at a very busy place that I remembered eating at last time I was here. I was not thrilled with my dinner and wished I had ordered the pizza instead as it looked really good. After dinner, I walked around for a little while and then headed back to my apartment for the night.
photo - Bellagio
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