[Piazza Mazzini, Como. From our hotel window. Photo is mine]
Beautiful, even on rainy days.
~ ~ Anon.
Part One: Como & Beyond
If you found this post by finding “Como” and are expecting to hear a YouTube video of Perry Como singing “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas”, I’m very sorry. You’re at the wrong blog site. (But while I’m at it, I should mention that Perry Como was one of my mother’s favorite crooners.) That is a different story for a different time.
Is it really any wonder that I probably got a B- or perhaps a C+ in my high school English class? I, who read “Of Human Bondage” when I was in eighth grade. I likely thought it was a book about S/M, Boy, was I wrong.
For many years, I read and reread the English Romantic Poets. Percy Shelly, John Keats and Lord Byron. I came to love the opening line of Byron’s “The Prisoner of Chillon”:
My hair is grey, but not with years,
Nor grew it white in a single night,
As men’s have grown from sudden fears:
My limbs are bowed, though not with toil,
But rusted with a vile repose…
For some inexplicable reason, I always thought that the island castle prison of Chillon was located on the shore of Lake Como. How wrong I was. It’s on Lake Geneva, Switzerland. With that misinformation in mind, I had suggested to Mariam that we should go to Lake Como and visit the poetically famous castle. It wasn’t until the reservations were paid and the plans were solidified that I discovered my mistake. But that’s okay. Como is only an hours train ride from Milan and Milan is where we have to catch our train to Paris. So, the two nights in Como were well spent and well worth the excursion. It’s a beautiful town and the lake is picturesque.
A tiny bit of history first: The ancient town was conquered by the usual conquerers of the day–the Romans. It became a colony of Julius Caesar in 196 B.C.E.
Como has excellent examples of Romanesque and Gothic style churches. The hotels and residential buildings are mostly like the photograph that opens the blog. (See Above).
The cuisine is pasta, of course, and a wide variety of seafood. The menu boards in front of the numerous restaurants offer such delicacies as Salmon, Trout, Pike, Bleak (?), Laverello (?), Perch, Chub, and who will forget a plate of Misultitt (?).
The same interests in cheeses apply to many of the Market items: I know a good Cheddar from a Dorset Blue (I shop at Zabar’s sometimes), but Semuda, Zincarlin and Triangle del Laro leave me wondering. I guess that also explains why I got a D- in my Turophile course.
Part Two: Clooney, Madonna, Branson & Stallone
This part is going to be very short. We took a boat excursion to Bellagio (not the one in Vegas). It’s a charming town full of celebs like the ones listed above. I’m sure there are more. The wealth of the villas is a bit beyond our budget.
But Bellagio is stunning:
[One of the first places you see when you get off the ferry at Bellagio. Photo is mine]
[Stairway to more shopping in Bellagio. Someone told me that each stone was hand set. Photo is mine]
[A map in the public dockside area. Photo is mine. The map artist is unknown to me.]
The return trip to Como was nearly two hours because we stopped at more small villages. Ensconced back at Albergo del Duca, our hotel we had a little trouble finding a place to have our final Como dinner. We had chosen a place earlier in the day…but it was now threatening a thunderstorm. And storm it did. The lightning flashes lit up Mariam’s Prosecco.
Part Three: Tragedy On The Lake
But life on Lake Como was not always fun and food. Love abounded and death struck many times. The story of Benito Mussolini’s daughter-in-law is a story of such love and death. Gina Ruberti (d. 1946) married the dictator’s son, Bruno (d. 1941) in a lavish fascist ceremony (is there any other kind?). Bruno was a pilot. He was tragically in a plane crash in 1941. Gina moved to a house in Como.
After the fascist government of Italy began to crumble shortly before the end of WW II, Benito’s days were numbered.
The details of what happened to Gina and her father and his mistress at the war’s end is something I will add as a link for you to read on your own. I encourage you to do so. It’s fascinating.
The Death of Benito Mussolini
[Note: Mariam helps with the techie stuff for which I thank her. I take full responsibility for any omissions, errors, etc.]