April 6 – 10, 2023
It was our last full day in Como. To be honest, without taking boat rides to other villages further up the lake, there wasn’t a lot to see and do in Como itself. It had been a nice couple of days, but if we had planned to stay much longer we’d quickly run out of things to do. Today’s agenda included exploring the large cemetery on the other side of the city and then see about this supposed walking path on the western side of the lake.
Our host, Silvano, had offered to prep a couple of bicycles for us to borrow, but when we mentioned it at breakfast, they weren’t ready yet. We weren’t that interested and told him that we could make other plans for the day. And to be honest, I was just as glad not to be borrowing a bicycle, as I have found that borrowed bikes are never the right fit and cause more problems than they are worth. Today, we would walk! Again.
After breakfast we headed to the southern edge of the city and meandered our way across to the western portion. We had no specific goal, other than to eventually end up at the cemetery.
More great architecture
Such attention to detail!
We were up there yesterday! That’s San Donato part way up the hill and Brunate on the upper left
The Cimitero Monumentale sits at the edge of the city with a back drop of forested hills. It is HUGE. We made our way to the main entrance, not impressed by the external walls nor entrance gate. But once we passed through and entered the property – it was impressive. I will try not to overload the page with photos, but there were so many amazing, unique, beautiful and loving memorials, I had a hard time not capturing them.
Just one of five sections
There were five large open areas with typical (and some not-so-typical) grave markers in the middle, surrounded by an arcade that housed fancy monuments dedicated to multiple generations. Some walls of the arcade were dedicated to smaller “slots” and while small, were no less adorned.
Wall of “small” mausoleums
Touching marker with an arcade visible in the background
Detail of an arcade alcove
I’d never seen grave stones designed to allow for trees
Monument to the entire family line
I love the busts!
Looking down one of the arcades
Most of the markers had photos – it was interesting to see the styles change over the years
Another arcade – this place was huge!
Even the young aren’t immune
We could have spent all day here, but we felt like we had seen “enough” and decided to continue our journey. We left the gates and headed north. We were circumnavigating the city and now continued to head north towards the lake. Along the way we passed by another grand church, the Basilica of Saint Abundius. We were told that the frescos in the nave were special, as they allowed the “average illiterate person” to follow along with the Latin Mass. Here is a link to site that shows the frescoes in much more detail.
Frescoes of the Basilica of Saint Abundius
From the Basilica we continued along a rather nondescript and almost boring road. It turned out we were following via Regina, the ancient road along the hillside that traced Lake Como’s western edge. This used to be the only road to Como – hard to imagine that nowadays, as there are roads everywhere. It was mundane enough that I didn’t bother taking any photos, but here’s a Google Streetview to put your curiosity at rest.
We passed by the Como S. Giovanni station where we had first arrived and would soon depart from. It was almost lunch time – where does the time go? Neither of us wanted to commit to a sit-down meal in a restaurant and when I saw that we were nearing the “food festival setup” we saw on our first day here, I suggested that we find something from one of the street vendors. It turned out to be an excellent choice and we found ourselves eating some type of crispy pork bits. It was the perfect light snack to keep us going.
After our meal we continued walking, approaching the lake from a few streets over and seeing new neighborhoods along the way. It was another great day for walking and it felt good to stretch out my muscles from yesterday’s hike.
Looking across the lake
The water level of Lake Como was low. It was down about a meter, and it is not expected to recover any time soon, as the source of the lake (glaciers) are rapidly disappearing. When the waterfront villas were built over 100 years ago, boathouses were designed so that the occupants could easily hop into their water craft and visit other places on the lake. But the current water level left these boathouses sitting high and dry. It really was interesting to see the drastic change in the environment.
The path along the lake was wide and pleasant; a perfect way to stroll in the spring sunshine. We didn’t have any plans – just wander for a while and then eventually come back to Como. We had dinner reservations, but those were hours away.
The boat landing at Villa Olmo: no boats here
Looking at our hiking yesterday
The lake was a means of transport; this bay even has a way to unload cargo
The pleasant lakeside walking path had diminished in its appeal. It still followed the shoreline, but it was now bordered on the other side by a busy, narrow road. Add the frequent bicycles traveling in both directions on both the path and the road, and it became more stressful than a walk should be. It also made me happy with our decision not to borrow bicycles today. I would not have been pleased to deal with the cars and pedestrians along here, in a strange and unknown setting.
We eventually reached the next village, Tavernola, and since there was a ferry dock, we chose to wait for the next boat and take the easy way back to Como.
Ferry at Tavernola
It was a remarkably short ferry ride and soon we were docked in Como. Now what to do? We considered getting another snack at the street food festival, but ended up just walking through. It had gotten considerably busier since we were here last!
Beer vans are a big thing here – gives a whole new meaning to “Van Life!”
We really didn’t know what to do at this point. Dinner was in a few hours and we had seen what we knew what we wanted to see. We ended up finding some “new” streets and then just relaxing and people watching at Piazza Cavour, the big open space along the waterfront.
One of the original medieval streets
Fun water fountain
We started to head back to our hotel to relax before dinner. I told Dan that I wanted to see the inside of the Duomo – something I should have done on our first day here, before the weekend crowds showed up. He waited while I ran around to the entrance to take a peek. Yep, I should have done this on Friday: it was currently closed to visitors due to a service. Bummer, but there were some open doors and I snapped a couple of pictures anyway.
Another view of the Broletto
The Big Door
Hmmm – what are those tourists doing in there?
Whatever the reason that I didn’t go in, I was fine with seeing what I did. I’m not a historian, and I don’t need to see all of the details. I got an idea of what it was like inside and it was sufficient. But if I’m ever back in Como, I will make a point to go in and take a good look around.
“Dan for scale” – waiting patiently for me
We walked back to the hotel, put our feet up and relaxed. It was hard work, this “vacationing”! But I had made dinner reservations for 7 pm. It was the earliest I could make them, as they only opened at 7, and it was as late as I would want to eat a big meal.
Piazza Roma was located right behind the Duomo. I felt like we were always walking the same streets to get to or from our hotel, although we did try to “mix it up!” a bit by taking as many alternative routes as possible. We were there before they opened, and then we were the first ones to be seated. It was a nice place, although a little cluttered. But the food and the service were great and we left contented.
After dinner we took a little turn around the city before heading back to our hotel. Our holiday was coming to a rapid end. We would get an early breakfast and walk back to the train station for our 9 am departure back to Basel. While we didn’t have First Class seats on the return, we did have reserved seats and never had to change trains: direct from Como to Basel with just a couple of stops along the way. We were home by 1 pm: perfectly timed to disrupt the kitties from their afternoon nap.