In the midst of turmoiled life last year, I to a wedding in Lenno, on the shores of Lake Como. And I knew I had to return as a different person, to cherish and value what I lay before me in a different light.
Last week I did, as Autumn spread her golden aura on the place, I immersed myself in the glory of the Grand Tour of yonder years. In this place of lakes and mountains, some capped with snow, time stops. Villages lie dormant despite the visitors and slow is the way to go. Slow and steady breathing exists here. The ferries are best for traversing the water from Village upon Village of colour, the azure of water, the bright Umbers, pinks and mustards of buildings and mountain meets shore in greens of lime, olive and forest green. Boats bob in retro fashion. Villas of grandeur, Hotels with names like the Grand … Hotel du Lac (one in every town) herald bygone splendour. Is it a peaceful place.
The apartment, a find I shall wish to closet for future stays, was one of those we dream of living in. Wooden floors, double volume, white decor and a view to wake to, to linger over, to stare out over towards the twinkling lights across the water at night, perched above restaurants still sought for watching, and doing little else but watching. And knowing that life bustles elsewhere but here, modern life wanes for the simpler stuff of a good meal, excellent conversation, ambling amongst the shops and most of all, lingering as a flanêur should in one’s walk for no purpose but to observe.
The sense of peace is overwhelming. History and elegance in every garden. Some come to paint, others to explore, and some, even to write of what life should be like. I had forgotten that in the midst of worldly doings, there are places that can restore the soul, turn back the tumultuous heart and calm all as Como does. Some chose retreats for yoga, self awareness, business building, but Lake Como offers a retreat for the soul, simple, just the soul to quieten and restore.
A woman wanting to travel alone should pen this place in her diary. Easy to reach from Milan, I chose to rail from Milan Central to Verenna and ferry to Bellagio. The journey alone allows breathtaking views of the lake, doing it Grand Tour style, without stress, without hurry.
For those wanting to centre their time around the Midlake, Bellagio offers the perfect hub, but in saying that, my stay in Lenno last year, a little quieter is ideal for the total getaway. Other options are Verenna, Tremezzo and Menaggio for accommodation – one simply cannot go wrong and all are within reach of a simple ferry ticket for the day. There is hiking, cycling and a variety of water activities to partake in, but for me, just day tripping from village to village, to light candles in a church, eat pasta, sip coffee and dig deep within the soul were enough to bring about a renaissance of self.
There is a reason I love Europe. My grandparents were born there, loved living in South Africa but always took lengthy trips back to Lake Como and passed this onto my mother, who did the same for me. I took my children to Como to pass the legacy, the love and the gentleness of life in her moments of languish – and simply going slow for a while.
When all is said and done, battles fought and won, we need to sip the last of the summer wine in a place that takes our breath away. We need romance and beauty … and I found her for awhile.