Retirees go Abroad – Lake Como Italy
Up, Up and Away
Our first morning in Lake Como. After 3 to 4 hours sleep, I awoke to a cloudy sky and irregular showers. The sunny day Sunday had promised was gone but we had made our plans to meet Roberto and they could not be changed. To add insult to injury when we entered onto the highway we were met by a car park. Some multi vehicle collision was holding up all traffic (see photo below) and in true Italian style we reversed back through the entry lane to try a new direction and as we crossed over the highway the blockage had been cleared and traffic was flowing again.
We finally started our journey for Lugano on the lake of the same name in Switzerland. There are tolls on most autostrada in Italy and the A9 is a set 2.20 euro. But the Swiss do it differently. At the end of the A9 we were met by the Swiss border control. They were not interested in our passport. They only wanted to collect 35 euros road tax. (Note to self – Switzerland charges a 70 euro toll to use their toll roads for one year and this toll reduces to half at June). So the cost for the joy of visiting Roberto – 35 euro. Even though we were delayed twice we still managed to beat Roberto with his friend Sue into the old city. After the usual ritual – a cuppa and a transfer of gossip -we decided to find the funicular to the top of Monte Bre for views of Lugano and the lake. We found a disused funicular and on the basis that I had read on the internet that you caught one line to join the main line to the top, we climbed a couple of hundred stairs to find that we were way off target. But we got some great photos. We decided to grab a cab and asked to be taken to the funicular but went not to Monte Bre funicular but Monte San Salvador Funicular – I did not even know there were two funiculars in the town. Nevertheless we bought tickets which included lunch at the summit. Two (2) funicular journeys later we were 813 meters above sea level and in a white out – low cloud prevented us taking in the view. So we went to lunch which turned out to be pretty good. We had hoped the cloud would lift after lunch but no such luck and Roberto and Sue had a bus to catch. On a clear day the views would be fantastic. An excursion I can recommend.
Roberto and Sue rejoined their tour and we then drove up to Mont Bre. Kerry drove and we both were very nervous about this trip. Monte Bre is higher than Monte San Salvador and the road is winding with an ever decreasing road width. Further because it is higher we drove through the cloud with oncoming traffic just appearing in front of us. We arrived in Monte Bre with a feeling of relief and trepidation as we had to drive back down.
Monte Bre is an ancient village of stone houses. Rough paved lanes join the houses into a village. The village has been home to a number of renowned artists who lived and worked in the village and an outdoor walking museum of their art and others artists has been developed. We walked around the outdoor museum which is in the lanes of the village with art posted on the exterior of houses. Kerry was fascinated with the architecture of the village particularly the old and its integration with the newer (there was nothing new). If you wish to read more go to www.lugano-montebre.ch.
Suffice it to say I drove down the hill and we found out that the funicular was not operating that day. In fact we witnessed the operators testing the funicular on our return trip. We had decided to visit Roberto and Sue at their hotel in Saranno for dinner. Saranno is a bigger village and the Grand Hotel (where they were staying) in Saranno is a true 4 star hotel when compared with our Best Western. We had aperitifs at the bar and a pizza at a cafe near the Hotel. The cafe was in a derelict looking building beside a pile of broken concrete at the railway station. Cheap in every sense. So it was home to Best Western and a good nights sleep. I have included photos of our trip up Monte San Salvador and trip up Monte Bre: