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Guest: Lake Como, Italy
Love Is Better
the Second Time Around

by Roger Fallihee

Lake Como with the Swiss Alps in the background
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 enthusiastically.

"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 home.
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.

road along Lake Como
Distracting vistas and crazy drivers make for a "white knuckle" ride around the lake. Save the Chianti for later. Credit: Roger Fallihee

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.

a stairway in Bellagio
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

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Let Roger know what you think about his traveling adventure.

* * * * *

As you may (or may not!) know from reading my stuff on TBoy, I'm a WW2 aficionado, and several years ago on one of my many trips to Normandy, I stopped by Monet's home. I was transfixed from the second I walked into his garden, and felt as if I was part of one of his paintings. Your marvelous story captures the essence and magic of an equally marvleous and captivating house and garden, and it made me feel as if I were back there myslef. The hallmarks of any really great travel journalist is to be able to transport the reader to whatever he or she is reading, and make them feel as if THEY are seeing and doing what you, as the travel journalist, are describing. YOU have that talent in spades, and let me give you a British Hi Five and Super Bravo for a super story on this mesmerizing French destination. I hope it encourages many TBoy readers to go there. Again, congratulations!

-- John, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

Loved this article! You have such a strong, true voice -- reading you is like having a chat with you -- always a pleasure!

-- Jamie, Edmonds, WA

Ed Boitano's travel blog/review
Three Musical Pilgrimages: Mozart, Grieg and Hendrix

Troldhaugen Villa in Bergen, Norway
Johann Chrysostom Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791) could read and compose music, plus play the violin and piano, when he was five years old. Born into a musical family in Salzburg, Austria (then the Holy Roman Empire), he had a unique ability for imitating music, which first became evident when he recited a musical piece by simply observing his father conducting a lesson to his older sister. This led to a childhood on the road, where the young prodigy performed before many of the royal courts of Europe.

Go There

Tom Weber's travel blog/review
Treasures of Ireland: The Irish Goodbye (Dispatch #20)

Irish sunset

The Palladian Traveler brings to a close his 20-part series on the Emerald Isle from an upscale restaurant in downtown Dublin where he files his final dispatch and then quietly slips away.

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John Clayton's travel blog/review
Two "MUST SEE" Truly Spectacular Places in Europe. Here's Why.

Culzean Castle, Scotland
The Han Grotto and Culzean Castle. As the name of my Traveling Boy feature is "Travel With a Difference," it's important to me to always bring you offbeat and unusual tourist places around the world you may not know about. These two fit that category to a T, and they're absolutely worth a visit. One's in Scotland and one's in Belgium. Culzean (pronounced CULLANE) Castle is located near Maybole, Carrick, on the Ayrshire coast of Scotland.

go there

Ringo Boitano's travel blog/review
Highway 49 Revisited: Exploring California's Gold Country

aurora borealis lights up the night sky near Fairbanks
In the 1840s, the population of California was only 14,000, but by 1850 more than 100,000 settlers and adventurers had arrived from all over the world – and they came for one reason: gold. James Marshall had discovered the first gold nugget at Sutter’s Mill in El Dorado County, creating the largest gold rush in history.

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