Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ancient Lake Fun Part I (Divertimento di Lago Antiche)

Driving through rush hour traffic is never fun in any city, but in Milan it can really grind to a halt. We had left Venice earlier that morning by rent car and had lost a bit of time with a fun stop at Lake Garda's ancient city of Sirmione that I'll elaborate on later.

The lady I was renting the villa from in Bellagio was expecting us at 5:00pm, but a helicopter would be the only option which could have made that happen. Luckily, I didn't have to sit in the Milan traffic for the full 360 degrees of the loop around the city, after only a few miles of a parking lot, I saw a workable exit to the north.

Trying to read the road signs in Italian on a big highway system you've never been on with many impatient drivers zipping around is not exactly the relaxing part of the vacation. The trusty GPS guided us to the correct road north for Bellagio after a few wrong turn missteps in the city of Como itself. Up the mountains we went on the narrow twisty east side 589. Suddenly, the lake came into view off to the left (and way down there). Flashbacks to driving in Santorini Greece came to mind, but this was much easier by comparison.

Lake Como (Larius to the Romans) has long been a resort. Pliny the Younger had written about stays in a villa here for hunting and fishing around 2000 years ago, but mine was going to have running wat... nope he had that, a sewer sys... nope he had that, um, electricity! Which was going to be very handy soon since it was beginning to get dark as I was driving on up around the twisty mountain roads.

I gave the owner Francesca a call when in town. She dropped everything and drove up the awesome hill where the villa is located to let us in and give information about the rooms and the area. I knew it was going to be a nice place, but I was surprised at exactly how nice it all was.
My mom loved the view and the balcony, and there was an olive orchard and an infinity edge pool which were part of the property. There was even a nice little cobblestone parking area behind an automatic iron gate.

Speaking of fancy pools, for the record, even as nice as my pool is, I'd gladly trade my house for this villa any day of the week because there are just no views like this in Texas. Francesca is a great business woman, she and her sister run a shop in town and the nice villa in the pristine location was handed down in their family. She had restored it to a very high standard. Although I don't use the term lightly, it was 'chock full' of amenities.

The town of Bellagio is small and pleasant, well except for the 1960's style band bleating out old rock and roll in Italian at one of the hotels. It is by necessity a compact center of town and everything is pretty much within a few minutes walk.
If you go, I recommend stopping at Villa Melzi and by all means, take the boats around and explore. If you want to spend obscene amounts on shopping, I'd recommend taking the boat over to Mennagio and catching a bus to Switzerland.
Or if you just want to relax, you can do like I did and have a few bottles of wine in your own villa while looking over the same awesome lake Pliny did 2000 years ago.

I think I'll be back here soon.


  1. Hopefully, you didn't water down the wine, like Pliny would have lo those 2000 years ago.

    But, yeah. I'd trade my house for a villa like that. North Carolina doesn't have those views, either.

  2. I've always wondered... was there a Pliny the Older? Elder? More Old? Er?

  3. MJenks,
    No way, I didn't have my red figured Krater with me to mix it all up in.
    I looked at some of the real estate listings, they aren't all that expensive for some reason. Maybe it just seemed that way since I had just come from Venice.

    Peach Tart,
    It was very relaxing here. It would be an excellent place to get some cooking lessons or somesuch...

    There was indeed a Pliny the Elder, who also wrote history like his son (and died in the infamous Pompeii eruption).
    Sadly, unlike 'The Brady Bunch' leitmotif of three, there was no 'Pliny the Middle One' or 'Pliny the Peter/Jan' if you will.

  4. I lust for a view like that. No wonder Pliny (what's in a name?) owned several villas in Italy.

  5. My wife would kill you for that villa. In fact, she'd kill anyone for that villa.

  6. That looks and sounds incredible. The more I read, the more I want to slap you and whine that it just isn't fair. ;)

  7. Dutch Donut Girl,
    :) I do and still do...
    He was a smart guy, that Pliny.

    Um, ok, so I'm *not* buying that villa just in case she ever asks. :)

    Lake Como was fun, although this was the really slow-paced relaxed part of the trip, which is probably why my mom liked it the best.
    Just think, you have that cool lake right next to where you are living in SC, right? I have to drive like 5 minutes or so to get to a lake where I live.

  8. Very cool.

    I wanted to share a link with you:
    Its a bit where our art-worlds collide :)

  9. I was there AGES ago...this totally makes me want to go back! What a great place.

  10. Please send me info on francesca and her villas NOW. That place looks gorgeous... I'm glad you had a good trip! Have you sent me the information yet?

  11. I loooove infinity pools.

    Isn't Lake Como where George Clooney has a villa? I know it's somewhere in Italy.

    Not that I'm stalking him or anything. Ahem.

  12. Valerie,
    Thanks for the link, that guy is really talented. The lady that was teaching my class in Ravenna took a course last year in how to pull the glass into threads kind of like he is doing. Speaking of art worlds, I want to see some more of your glass works. I've been reading up on low potassium natron glasses for the 'cool' colors and how to use calcium antimontate as an opacifier as people 2000 years ago did with stibnite ore.

    You should go back and rent a villa! (and blog about it, of course)

    I sent an email with the link, it was gorgeous and I highly recommend it. Check out the photo gallery!

  13. Soda, I missed you just now...
    Yes, I read that George is fairly close to the villa I stayed at.
    *ahem*, of course you aren't... :)

  14. relaxed in a villa in Italy with wine. A real life villa! When people imagine a most relaxing moment (or romantic), this is the setting they think of. And the view...I want more pictures, seriously.

    This Pliny the Younger fella...he had running water and a sewer system 2000 years ago?? really?