Love Is Better
the Second Time Around
by Roger Fallihee
Lake Como, looking toward the Swiss Alps, from the
town of Como.
Credit: Roger Fallihee
s our wedding plans came together my fiancée Dorothy and I began to
focus on the honeymoon. Hawaii? New York? London? Paris? Rome? Both
of us had travelled to these iconic places in the past, but in our conversations
we quickly realized that neither one of us had ever had a truly romantic
visit to any of these wonderful destinations. Dot and I had both been
in long-term, "complicated" marriages, where romance had not been on
the plate for many, many years.
After a short amount of discussion we agreed on Italy
and France. Suffice it to say that the idea of spending a couple of
weeks with the love of my life, at the birthplace of the Renaissance,
was an exciting proposition. I broke into a huge grin.
"What are you smiling about," Dot asked, also smiling?
"We absolutely have to go to Lake Como," I said
"Haven't you been there," she replied?
"Not with you I haven't."
Lake Como is located about twenty-five miles north of
Milan and just a few minutes by car from the Swiss border. The majesty
and beauty of the lake, the surrounding hills and distant Alps, the
exquisite 16th - 19th century villas, and the picture-perfect villages
and towns make this one of the top romantic destinations in Europe.
Villa Oleandra, George Clooney's home away from
Courtesy of Antonio Calanni Associated Press
The city of Como, wrongly panned by many critics, sits
at the southern edge of the lake. Originally inhabited as far back as
the Bronze Age the settlement came under control of the Romans in the
first century BC. At this time Julius Caesar ordered the town square
to move to its current location.
For centuries Lake Como has been a popular destination
for the "rich and famous." Mark Twain visited Lake Como in the summer
of 1867 and wrote about his experiences in "The Innocents Abroad."
Part-time resident George Clooney
calls his "Villa Oleandra" his "Piece of Paradise."
After having espresso and pastries
on the shores of this gem it felt like our "Piece of Paradise" too.
The road that encircles the lake
is windy, narrow, at times very slow, and always breathtaking. After
breakfast we climbed into our rented Ford, and started the cruise up
the west side of the lake, with our ultimate destination being the ferry
connection to Bellagio.
Distracting vistas and crazy drivers make for a
"white knuckle" ride around the lake. Save the Chianti for later. Credit:
It took more than an hour to drive the twenty miles
to the ferry dock, but neither one of us was in a hurry. I was in the
most beautiful, romantic corner of the world, with the love of my life.
I wanted time to freeze, not move forward.
The "Stairs of Bellagio"
are a necessity to get around this picturesque and romantic village.
Credit: Roger Fallihee
We boarded the tiny ferry boat and enjoyed the quick
ride across the lake to Bellagio, a jewel of a village impossibly cut
into the sheer cliffs of the Lombardi region. Driving around Bellagio
is not really an option. The hills are so steep that traditional streets
have been replaced with wide stairways, making for leisurely, traffic-free
strolling and window shopping.
Bellagio is famous for silk ties, wine shops, gourmet
restaurants, and epic views of Lake Como but what Bellagio is really
about is being in love. Sharing a setting like this with someone that
you adore amplifies the experience. All of the images and fond memories
from a day in Bellagio stay with you forever. You remember how amazing
a simple slice of pizza tasted. You remember the warm breeze from the
lake. You remember the smells and sounds and sights of paradise, and
you relive them often.
Most of all you remember how wonderful it feels like
to be in love in Bellagio. Much, much better the second time around