Saturday, July 14, 2018

Bellagio, Italy

We left you last with a few teaser photos of our great place
in Bellagio, Italy.

Perched on the side of the mountain overlooking Lake Como, its hard to believe
that tomorrow we move on after 9 days of some great relaxation.
It seems like we just got here and I never even got to swim!

What's even harder to believe however, is that Tuesday will mark 2 months since we boarded
the Queen Mary 2 in New York to embark upon this whirlwind odyssey.

We've enjoyed some great outdoor dining....

Bruschetta ala Greg in Bellagio

We've met some of the neigbors

We have some real asses for neighbors
Kate comes back from the doodles morning walk.

Lake Como has an estensive ferry system.
It operates at the regions waterborne public transport system.
It's a mixture of ship types including some Hydrofoils.

We get to see them all going into Bellagio just a couple of miles down the lake

A hydrofoil skims across Lake Como
A couple of times we took the ferry from the dock in San Giovanni which
is just down the hill from us - into Bellagio.    A 7 minute ride.

The small harbor at San Giovanni

Our ship has come in.

Lake Ferry arriving at San Giovanni Dock
The ferry is a great time killer, plus a scenic and cool way to spend an afternoon.

Leaving San Giovannie - we head north to Bellagio located on the
peninsula in the distance.

Getting closer to Bellagio

Arriving at the Dock.
Bellagio is one of the more well known towns on the lake and has both a passenger
dock as well as a car dock where the carry ferries arrive and depart.
We'll take the car ferry tomorrow when we leave.

Ferry dock in Bellagio Italy

In Bellagio - there are basically two directions...



One day we had a nice lunch along the waterfront.

While at lunch we could watch the ships arrive and depart at the near by docks.
Below is the ferry to Varenna.
We will be taking that one tomorrow when we leave.

Bellagio to Varenna Cary Ferry on Lake Como
One day - rather than taking the ferry back to San Giovanni - we decided to walk the
1 1/2 miles back home.

The conventional way is back up the main road...
A narrow, winding, thoroughfare - often with stone walls on both sides of the road,
leaving nowhere for a pedestrian to get out of the way of the speeding drivers 
and motorcycles that appeared at any moment flying around the blind curves.

We did however learn that we could get a pass to the Melzi Villa and Gardens..
That would give us about 70% of the walk along the lakefront, thru beautiful gardens
on a palatial estate.

So.. we headed off along the waterfront towards the Melzi Estate.
Walking along an Oleander lined street with cool lake breezes.

The waterfront in Bellagio
Paying our entry fee, we enter the gardens into another world! 

Melzi Gardens Bellagio

The estate was constructed between 1808 and 1810 for Francesco Melzi d’Eril 
who was the Duke of Lodi and vice president of the Italian Republic under Napoleon. 

The plants are imported from all 4 corners of the globe.

Melzi Gardens Bellagio
From the Japanese gardens we break out into a more wide open
space with large terraces along the lake front.  

Rather than fighting our way up a narrow two-lane highway....

Lots of cool places to sit down and reflect.

Lilly pad at Melzi Gardens Bellagio
And by request...  yes we are still here!

Walking by the mansion - looking back from where we came.

At the north end of the estate is the family chapel...  Mausoleum?
The Duke of Lodi is interred here along with a few other notables of the family.

Below is the tomb of his step son and heir Lodovico Melzi.

The shroud around the tomb is amazing.

A closer look.
The hard stone almost seems as if it would blow in the wind.
The fringe flying in the breeze!

Well that pretty much wraps up our visit to Bellagio.
There is so much more here that we could have done but that will have to wait for another day.
It's better to taste some and be left wanting more.

Tomorrow we head north and will travel thru the Alps to visit our great friends
in Richterswil Switzerland for 10 days.

Marcel gave me some great tips on taking an off the beaten trail road north.
So we will go over the Alps on the "Old Road"
Following a path taken since Roman Times.

The road crosses the Alps from Italy into Switzerland over Spl├╝gen Pass.
At one point it climbs a sheer cliff wall of the valley - up thousands of feet
with dozens of switchbacks on a road that is only one car wide at points.
 The photo below, lifted from the web,  is one spot along the way.

Spluga Pass Rd  SS-36  Italy

It should be a fun Sunday Drive!

Saturday, July 7, 2018


Back on the road... we left Firenze and headed northeast to the sleepy village of Noale,
about 30 miles west of Venice, where we would spend our next 5 nights.

I chose Noale for several reasons:
Having heard about the crowds in Venice in the summer, I was looking for someplace
quieter, plus I wanted a smaller town to unwind after the schedule of big
cities and lots of running to and fro up to here.

The quiet town, and grassy parks would also be a nice change of pace for the doodles.

Below is a map of our route from Florence to Noale, then our two side trips by train from
there, plus our last drive from there to our current home in Bellagio on Lake Como.

We arrived in Noale on a sleepy Sunday afternoon.
It was quiet enough to hear the roosters crow.

Noale Town Square

Our host met us at the house, just a block off the town square.
She gave us a quick orientation of the town, places to eat, things to see, and
soon we were left to our own devices.

Nearby was a supermarket so first we headed out to get some provisions for
the next 5 days, then we set out about exploring the nearby attractions.

About 5 min walk away was a great park with lots of trees and grass, and the ruins of
an old fort and its surrounding moat.

Old Fort in Noale Italy
Looking thru the city gate to the old town square.
Our place was about 1/2 way up and to the left. 

Our first order of business on Monday was seeing the Vet that our host had graciously
set up an appointment for me and Gracie.

Long story short - the topical cream (antibiotic/steroid) seems to have amazing
done the trick almost overnight!
Gracies swolled lymph nodes have shrunk and are pretty much gone.

I think we've finally put that scare behind us!

One of the reasons that I chose this specific houses was that it was about
200 meters from the train station.
A 5 minute walk and we were on the train headed to Venice which was a short
25 minute ride away.   The trains ran every 1/2 hour so it was easy as pie.

I put the Trenitalia app on my phone and was able to research and book our trains,
download the tickets to my iPhone and keep them in the phone wallet for inspection
by the conductors as they came thru the cars.

We hopped on the 901 am departure and by 934 we were in Venice.

Arriving at Santa Lucia - the end of the line - we exited the train and headed for the
Vaporetto (water bus) stop, where we purchased a 24 hr ticket good for unlimited rides.

Boarding the Vaporetto for Piazza San Marco (St Marks Plaza) we took
a nice ride down the Grand Canal of Venice.

Grand Canal approaching the Rialto Bridge
Of the 170 canals in Venice... the Grand Canal is the Main St of the city.
As there are no vehicles in Venice..  everything moves by boat.
The fireboats and ambulances included.

Below - we pass by a Vaporetto headed in the opposite direction.

Arriving at St Marks - the scene upon the water seems like bedlam!
One of the busiest places in the city - the gondola's are arriving and departing like ants.

Gondolas near Piazza San Marco Venice

Venice View
When we arrived on the island we headed directly to St Marks to try and beat the crowds.
We were modestly successful to that end as the crowds were not yet unbearable.
When we returned later that day - it was next to impossible to move about.

St. Marks Square Venice

They were setting up for a concert, so a large part of the square was blocked, and it
made it impossible to get the real good photo of the square.

Leaving St Marks, we walked our way back across to the Rialto Bridge, another
world famous landmark of the city.

Before it got too crowded we stopped and had lunch at a place overlooking
the canal.   We then hopped a Vaporetto back to St Marks in search of Rice Balls that
we had seen earlier on our walk.

Rialto Bridge Venice
The picture of the bridge above was taken later in the afternoon when the crowds had grown
to pretty much saturation levels.
We had planned to walk back to the train station from here but the bridge was too packed
to try and cross, so we took the Vaporetto instead.

Some typical scenes from Venice

Even the houses are sheets of canvas waiting for the artists expression.

St Marks plaza is surrounded by shops and places to eat.

There was even a 3 place band playing some great tunes.

While taking the Vaporetto back to the station, I purchased tickets for the 2pm train back
to Noale using the Trentalia app.   How convenient is that!

Back at the station, we had time for a Gellato prior to our flight.

Train travel in Europe is quite different than in the states.
In the Venice station we saw trains arriving and departing from all over the continent.

Back home by 3pm - I was just in time for my east coast NY work day to begin.

Soon it was dinner time and we enjoyed the Rice Balls we purchased in Venice.

I washed mine down with a Guinness Draught.
I'm sure that would make some true Italians gasp in horror!

On another of our days we took the train in the opposite direction from venice to
the end of this line in the west.
Our destination was the town of Bassano del Grappa.

Noale Scorza Train Station
It was market day in Bassano del Grappa when we arrived.

One of the draws here is the old wooden bridge from the 1300's
It seemed to be in the beginning stages of some much needed restoration.

Bassano del Grappa lies right at the edge of the foothills of the Alps.

Earnest Hemingway spent time here as an ambulance driver in WW1 and part of his
book "A Farewell to Arms" was set here and in the area. 

Soon it was time to head back to the station and catch the eastbound train back to Noale.
By 3pm we were back home just in time for the NY phones to start ringing...
Another work day had begun.

Boarding the train in Bassano del Grappa

On Friday - our 5 days having passed quickly - it was time to hit the road to our next
stop - a lovely place on the side of the mountain overlooking Lake Como
in Bellagio, Italy.   About 12 miles from the Swiss border.

An apartment with a view.
We will stay here for 10 nights.
We'd been here 10 years ago and always promised that we'd be back for longer.
And here we are.

The view from our house.

Sunset view from the house
Next post will be more about our stay here in Bellagio.

See you then.