Monday, June 27th
I said goodbye to Katia’s mother and thanked her for a wonderful time once again and then Katia & I stopped by Guido’s so I could say goodbye and thank him again and then we were off to the train station.
Because tickets are not sold at the Coccaglio train station and I did not get my ticket in advance, we went to the Rovato train station, where the very crabby train ticket man works. I remembered him from a few years ago when Katia and I purchased train tickets to Milano. As expected, he was in a very bad mood. When we arrived, he was complaining to a policeman and ignoring the people waiting in line.
The girl behind us became very upset and started yelling at him saying that he should just do his job and sell tickets because the train is about to arrive and she needed a ticket. Both Katia and I knew this would only make him even grumpier and take longer to get our tickets. Fortunately, we arrived at the station with plenty of time before my train was to arrive.
After getting my tickets, we went to wait for the train. A little boy and his nonno (grandpa) were also waiting for the train to arrive so that the little boy could watch the train come and then go. He was so cute. He became so excited when he finally saw the train in the distance and yelled, “stop” with his hands out when it arrived. I guess “stop” is a universal word.
I sadly said goodbye to Katia and boarded the train. To get to Bellagio, I had to change trains in Lecco and then take a Ferry from Varenna. The ride to Lecco was fine except for the one moment when the train made a funny noise and then just stopped. Everyone looked at each other with sort of a panicked look as if to say are we going to be stuck here for hours? But luckily, a few minutes later, the train started up again and ended up being only a few minutes late. Here’s a blurry photo I took during my train ride to Lecco.
The train arrived on Binario 6. I looked for the yellow Partenza sign that lists all the train departure times but there were no signs on this Binario, so I carried my roll on bag (which seems to be getting heavier each time I take a train) down the steps to the underpass and found the Partenza sign.
I located my train time and looked for the time for my stop to Varenna. Varenna was not listed as a stop on the train even though I had the stop listed on the sheet that I printed out from the Trenitalia site. There were also three Australian girls reading the same train info and wondering why Varenna was not listed as a stop. Sometimes little stops are not listed on the main list but there is usually another place on the right side of the Partenza page where the smaller town stops are listed. Varenna was not there.
I had about 15 minutes before the train should be arriving and so I decided to go to the first Binario to find a conductor, which meant carrying my bag up more steps. The conductor told me that the Varenna train will arrive at Binario 6 (the Binario I originally arrived at!) and just kept repeating Binario 6 even though I told him that the sign did not list Varenna as a stop for this train. I figured he knew what he was talking about and so I headed back down the Binario 1 steps and then up the Binario 6 steps. I also let the Australian girls know what the conductor told me.
While waiting for the train, I talked with this sweet older Italian lady. She told me all about the area and where she lived. The train arrived a few minutes late. There were tons of people waiting for the train, but amazingly, everyone got a seat. The views on this train were wonderful, and as the conductor told me, the train stopped in Varenna – another deserted train station.
I took the train to Varenna two years ago and so I knew how to find the ferry from the train station. It was all down hill. When I arrived at the ferry, it was just about to leave. I was fortunate to be able to board and buy my ticket on while on the ferry. It was WONDERFUL to be back on the lake! The ferry first went to Menaggio (where I stayed last time) and then headed to Bellagio.
When I arrived in Bellagio, I took out my map that I printed out from the website for the place where I was staying (Residence La Limonera) and looked for the best street to take to head up hill to the apartment. Every street seemed to have steps. I knew about a very long, steep street at one end of the town that went uphill without steps, but did not know about the shorter street at the other end near the church. After passing quite a few streets that headed straight uphill with lots of steps, I chose Salita Mella (not the best of choices). At that point I figured all the streets would have lots of steps so I should just pick a street and start heading uphill. This street had many many steps with very rocky parts in between the steps, a good test for my luggage wheels!
The map indicated that I needed to cross one more street before reaching the street the apartments were on. When I arrived at the place where another street crossed, I walked down a ways to see if any of the other streets that went further up the hill were without steps. No luck.
I stopped in front of this wonderful looking gelateria.
I was out of breath, hungry, and hot! The weather was in the mid 90’s and muggy. I thought about stopping for a gelato but I figured that it would be better to get rid of my things first and so I went back to Salita Mella and headed further up more steps. There were longer stretches between these steps and my wheels made quite a racket as they rolled over the rocky road. At one point, a man stuck his head out a window and asked where I was going. I told him and he told me I went too far and that the street I was just on was the street where Residence La Limonera was located. I followed his directions back down the steps and I couldn’t believe it! The place I was staying at was right across from the gelateria! If I had only turned around instead of drooling over all the gelato choices!!
I called the owner on my cell and waited about 10 minutes for her to arrive. She sounded a little put off that I was interrupting her day to let me in. Just to note – I did send her an email in advance telling her the time I was arriving and her response indicated that it was not a problem to arrive at this time. When she arrived, she showed me my room and explained how the key worked, etc, all very fast, again as if I was taking up all of her time.
The apartment I was renting at Residence La Limonera was a large studio apartment. It was nice except for two things. First, the floor was very dirty. There happened to be a broom in the apartment and right after I checked in, I swept up a big pile of dirt. Second, the shower head did not stay in place. It was impossible to set it so that the water would go on you and many times it ended up falling down to the bottom of the shower and occasionally the water would shoot out all over the floor. Otherwise, the apartment was in a good location and it was nice and quiet at night.
Before unpacking, I went and ate lunch at this little bar called Caffe’ Vecchio Borgo, which was right next door. I ordered a dish of pesto pasta. It was tasted amazing! Next, I had the most delicious peach gelato at the gelateria across the way. This gelateria (Gelateria del Borgo) makes their own gelato and was almost as good as the gelateria in Montelupo. I thought it was definitely the best gelateria in Bellagio. There were many local people at this gelateria whenever I stopped by.
After my delicious lunch, I went back to my apartment to unpack and do my laundry in the sink. Another plus to the apartment was the semi-private garden area I shared with one other apartment with lots of places to dry my clothes. Once my laundry was finished, I walked around Bellagio a bit to try to figure out some of the streets near my apartment and then went back to shower and get ready for dinner.
I ate at a very busy place that I remembered eating at the last time I was in Bellagio on a day trip. I had the lake fish, which was just ok. I was not very thrilled with my dinner and wished I had ordered the pizza instead as it looked really good. After dinner, I walked around for a little while, took more pictures, and then headed back to my apartment for the night.
I was excited to be spending the next few days in Bellagio!