This morning we caught the 9:14 train to Milan where we will change trains and go on to Como. Our ten days in Florence were delightful, we both feel that we know Florence and it is a wonderful city to know. Our host, Bill was delightful, always going the extra mile to see to it that everyone was enjoying themselves. Our memories will be highlighted by the people as well as the places; evenings on the roof, the view of the city from Piazzale Michelangelo, the delicious Italian food, the magnificent art, and the meandering through the web of city streets and plazas.
Our train arrived in Milan ten minutes late and what was suppose to be a twenty minute connection turned into a ten minute connection. By the time we got off the train we had five minutes to find our train and board. I had asked Nita to look on our ticket and tell me what compartment we were in on the next train and she told me 314. I thought this strange because it had always been under 20 on the other trains that we had boarded. We each had a roller bag and a backpack and were headed for the terminal when I looked at the train on the adjoining track and saw compartment 312, we stopped and I stuck my head into the door and asked the conductor, “Is this train going to Como?” He responded with a “Si”, we ran back two cars and boarded with 45 seconds to spare. “Life is good in Italy.”
Como is to Italy as Petoskey, Michigan is to the U.S. It is a beautiful old lake town with good weather and magnificent scenery. We didn’t do much more then get settled into our hotel, the Albergo Treminus, and old hotel on the lake that had just expanded and we ended up with an ultra modern room (#420) with a lake view; life is good in Italy. About five o’clock, after exploring the town, we stumbled into a McDonald’s, (OK we’re weaker then you thought) and had a Coke and fries. About 7:45 we found what appeared from the outside menu to be a good Italian restaurant that featured fish. I had the best sea bass, served whole and filleted at the table, what a show. It had been baked in olive oil, butter and parsley, and then served with diced potatoes, black olives and tomatoes; I accompanied it with a bottle of Orvieto Blanc…FANTASTIC. Nita had baked prawns in olive oil and butter which she enjoyed. We headed back to the hotel anticipating a day on the lake.
This morning we rode the cable train up the side of the mountain to Brunate, a small city that looks over Como. Most of the view was blocked by the homes built on the side of the slope, but what we could see was spectacular. At 12:45 we boarded a hydrofoil for a boat ride up the lake. The trees have turned yellow, red and orange so the fall colors were a marvelous accent to the pastel houses and the blue sky.
Lake Como is not like anything that I have ever seen. The shore line is dotted with little villages each presenting their town halls and churches to the passing boater with pride. They looked like Christmas villages in a department store display. We got off in Varenna hoping to tour a Villa that I found on the internet, but like most else in this area it had closed down for the winter as of November first. We did have a good lunch, spaghetti with clams, a tomato salad (their tomatoes are better then US tomatoes) and wine. Then we walked back to the boat dock along the shore line and caught a boat to Bellagio. I will guarantee there was more going on at the Las Vegas Bellagio then at the one in Italy. Most of the hotels and shops were closed, but the day was beautiful the air was clean so we took a romantic walk down the promenade and recalled that forty-one years ago we were honeymooning in Nassau. It’s now 7:30 in the evening and Nita just asked me what we were going to do about dinner. We went to Rieo a trendy Pizzaria with a speed boat theme. Pizza here is always thin crust, odd shaped because it’s hand made and seldom with more then two toppings. Tonight’s was good but not great.
Today we discovered that most Italian cities have more then one rail station. In Como we found a second station much closer to our hotel so we went there rather then walk up the hill to the one that we came in through. It was then that we discovered that Milan has three rail stations and we could not get to the one close to our hotel without making a transfer. That was OK until we discovered that the rail station close to our hotel was not the one that we had to be at the next morning at six-thirty to catch a bus to the airport. The day was a day of learning relative to the particulars about getting around Milan. We left our baggage at our hotel and caught the #3 trolley downtown to make our city bus tour at 2:30, half way through our journey the trolley driver stopped and threw everyone off, explaining that he “was not going to Milano Centero, so get off”. Everyone was confused but we all did as he demanded. A young Italian girl offered to take Nita and I to another trolley line that would go to Milano Centero, so we followed her through the streets for fifteen minutes. At one point I feared that she could be taking us to be shanghaied, but this wasn’t China this was Italy. She did drop us at a pick-up point and told us to catch trolley # 11. Eight minutes later trolley #11 showed up and we got on only to be put off after a five minute ride. “I am not going to Milano Centreo, get off.” Everyone got off. Luckily I recognized the Palace three blocks away and with the aid of my map we found our way to the tour office. I told the tour people what had happened and she explained that the city employees had called a strike and we were luck that we had made it as far as we had. It seems the new mayor wants to change the city employees retirement age from 58 to 65 to align with all other members of the European alliance. The tour took us back to many of the sights that we had seen on our own two weeks earlier, but did answerer some questions, give us new information and get us into The Last Supper. First I learned that Bartholomew, one of the twelve Apostles, was skinned by people who didn’t like his preaching Christianity then crucified upside down, thus he is the patron saint of tanners. This explained Marco d’Agrate’s statue (1562) of Bartholomew in the Duomo di Milano. (I have several on my photo site) Second there is a Synagogue in the Galleria Vittorio Enanuels, thus the Medora on the windows above the McDonald’s. Third John sitting on Jesus’ right in Leonardo’s painting of The Last Supper was the youngest and meekest of the Apostles. This is why Leonardo painted him with female features causing some to believe it was Mary Magdalen. (ya, right. Leo was a real trickster.)
We made it to the Milan airport and are waiting for our 10:40 direct flight to Atlanta. Nita and I are both ready to come home. The flight was easy, we watched three movies, made it through customs, are in the Delta Crown Room having a drink while watching the Georgia/ Auburn game and waiting for a seven o’clock flight to Birmingham. This is where having the AXP Platinum card pays off. We made it home at 7:00 PM Birmingham time, thus starting from Nita getting up at 4:00 AM in Milan we had a twenty hour travel day. It’s good to be home.
We were up at 7:00AM and met Avie, Rebbecca, Jeffery, Phil, Bert, and Tommy at the Crestline Bagel Shop for coffee, then at 2:30 we took the granddaughters, Haileigh and Emma to a family track meet at Sanford University. Haileigh, Emma and I each ran the 50 meters and 100 meters, a relay and the girls participated in the long jump. The girls both won trophy’s, Emma’s first ever, and we had a great first day back in Birmingham.