I hope you like the colours blue and green because in this post, there ain't much else!
Going through these photos really helped me relive a wonderful long weekend - although in the end, it didn't feel that long at all! After arriving late at the beautiful hotel on Friday night, Saturday whizzed past in a blur of picturesque lakeside towns, ferry rides and spectacular mountain views and before long it was time to check out on Sunday!
But anyway, back to the beginning.
Whilst my private chauffeur drove me around, I got to do a spot of sightseeing...
Lake Como is an incredibly popular holiday destination and it's not hard to see why.
Whilst I think I might prefer Lago Maggiore for day trips and the towns of Lake Garda, if you're after a more "authentic" Italian experience, Como is probably the way to go! (That being said, it's still bloomin' touristy so watch out for rip-offs and crap food!)
As it's so easily reachable from Milan, loads of city dwellers own houses on the shores and mountains that surround the lake. (Perhaps I'm concluding on a heuristic here but if it's the Milanese's choice of holiday destination, it's gotta be good right?)
I've got to say, this is something I find so hard to understand about Italy. In the midst of a supposed economic crisis, most people still own at least two houses. It's custom for Italian parents to save up and buy their children a house so for most young Italians, getting on the property ladder is a laughing matter (this doesn't make me jealous at all...)
I often joke with Magro that the whole reason everyone thinks there's a crisis in Italy is because everyone in the North has suddenly stopped being able to afford three houses which obviously constitutes a humungous national catastrophe.
We drove along the lake, using Google Maps for a Sat Nav which definitely did NOT work when we went through the inevitable tunnels that cut through the mountains. The navigator would suddenly place us in the middle of the lake and then five seconds too late, tell us to take the turn we had just whizzed past between tunnels.
"Nooo, that was it!" We'd cry as the road forced us into another 30 km tunnel (ok, I exaggerate...)
Eventually we got to our destination and began to climb to the refuge above Menaggio.
Magro refused to pose for photos.
Oh, and as misleadingly fresh as it may look in these pictures, please be assured that it was BOILING and I was sweating my arse off after five minutes. My calves were cramping within the first thirty seconds and I honestly began to believe I wouldn't be able to carry on for more than ten minutes.
I moaned all the way up that damn mountain.
I'm a trooper me.
But it was ridiculously beautiful.
When we passed these picnic tables on the way back down, there were a couple of students sitting and studying. Ok, so studying for exams sucks but with that as your classroom? Hello!
Although I tried to make this pitstop last as long as possible, Magro was ready to go again within about two minutes.
I was dying.
But as we climbed, the view just got better and better.
Underfed, overheating, overworked... my t-shirt says it all.
Now this photo has an interesting story. Kind of.
What you see above is snow. It had basically formed like a mini glacier in a shady corner of the mountain and it cut across the path for about ten metres.
As soon as I saw it, I thought that was game over. Until Magro began to climb across it.
"What?" I called ahead desperately. "How do I know where to put my feet?"
"Put them where other people have put their's!" He replied.
Helpful considering that all of the previous trekkers seemed to have chosen different routes and none of them looked appealing. I would have taken a photo of what it looked like from the snow but it was far too terrifying. We were pretty high up by that point and with the angle that the snow tilted, one slip and we would have fallen down to our deaths (do you sense melodrama?) In any case, slipping on snow is a fairly common occurrence especially for me, so I got down, wet and muddy and practically crawled along, clutching at the ice with my fingernails.
And it was so worth it.
We finally arrived at the Rifugio where hikers sprawled across the sunny fields overlooking the lake as if we had reached paradise.
Which we had in a way because there was a cool breeze and inside, cans of Moretti.
After eating a mere piece of focaccia and a load of mouldy cheese (Magro seems to have a particular affinity for green cheese), I tried to persuade him into sharing a huge bowl of polenta with me but he wouldn't have it.
And so, my beer hit a rather empty stomach.
I practically danced my way back down again. There was music in my head and damn was I moving to it.
We saw this guy carrying his son up the mountain in a child-seat attached to his backpack. When they arrived at the top, the little guy was fast asleep although this quickly changed around when his exhausted Dad lay down for a nap and the boy started dancing around and playing in his suddenly changed surroundings.
I made it!
Food is hauled to the top in small cable cars. I would have ridden one up had I known.
There was no snow on the path down but there was instead a landslide of shingle to traverse. Not quite as dangerous but still.
Ok so this is a really crap photo but this little fella was too quick and ran off before I could get my focus right!
Throughout the entire trek, we could hear sudden movements in the undergrowth and the scuttling of little legs amongst dry leaves.
We would catch a flash of animation out of the corner of our eye, turn quickly and see nothing but stillness. But sometimes they weren't quite fast (or subtle) enough and we spotted loads and loads of lizards which isn't that interesting to Italians but for me it was great seeing so many.
The way back down was, as it always is, much quicker than the climb.
We made it back to the car where we found the tomatoes I'd forgotten to put in the rucksack and ate them, relishing in their fresh sweetness.
I also cracked the chocolate out - I can't be completely healthy!
Then, it was off with our sweaty shoes and onwards to Agriturismo Tre Terre.
But that's for another day!