Italy 2005 ~ A Boat Ride & Grande Grandine in Varenna

Wednesday, June 29th

The word around town Tuesday was the temporale weather would be heading our way on Wednesday.  The weather predictions were correct. I woke up to overcast skies. I hung out for a while watching the weather trying to decide what to do and finally decided to take a chance and take a boat ride to Colico, the farthest point north on Lake Como.

The first boat leaving (except the rapido boats) was at 11:30. I hung out at my apartment and ended up falling back to sleep. I woke up a little after 11, gathered up my things, and headed down to the boats.

There was a big group of kids from a summer camp getting off the boat I was about to board. They stopped in the middle of the exit pathway. I heard one say that they were told to stop there. They backed up everything and finally a man working on the boats came by, waved his hands and said “Avanti, avanti”. The kids moved on and we were then able to board.

The boat was not very crowded after the stop at Varenna, perhaps due to the unsettled weather. I found a great seat with a wonderful view and took lots of pictures on the ride up north. I ate some food I brought with me along the way. The towns are quite different than the towns on Lake Garda. Most seem much smaller.

When I arrived in Colico, everything was closed except for a few bars. My original plan was to take the rapido boat back to Bellagio because of the bad weather heading our way. Because my boat was running late (due to the summer camp crowd in Bellagio), the rapido boat beat my boat to Colico and was heading back towards Bellagio when my boat arrived. The next boat was to arrive in about 40 minutes so I walked around the town and got a gelato and then hung out, waiting for the boat to arrive.

On the way back, the sky seemed to clear a little as we got close to Varenna and so I decided to stop there for an hour or so before heading back to Bellagio. Varenna is a very beautiful little town. I took a bunch of pictures as I walked down by the water and then saw the cutest baby ducks, five of them, with their mamma duck. Being a preschool teacher, of course I started to hear Raffi’s song about the Five Little Ducks in my head. I took some pictures and then watched a grandma and her two grandchildren feed the ducks.

I was so busy watching the grandma, the little girls, and the ducks as well as taking pictures that I didn’t notice that the sky had turned black! I walked a little ways farther towards a hotel I had thought about staying at in the future to get some information and the rain began. The man at the desk was very kind and let me hang out in the lobby for a little while. I asked him what he thought – if it would be a quick storm or a long storm. He predicted a long storm.

The temperature cooled about 20 degrees from the mid 90’s to the 70’s once the storm started. I was not dressed for the cooler weather, although I did have my raincoat with me. I headed back to catch the next boat, scheduled to arrive in about 15 minutes. Much of the walk was covered and so I did not get too wet. But, once I arrived at the area where the boats arrive and the tickets are sold, it started to rain quite hard and the wind was blowing all over the place.

It was difficult trying to stay dry under the little tin roof that connected the two tiny buildings where the tickets were sold. There were about 15 or 20 of us waiting under this little tin roof for the boat. I took this picture when I arrived in Varenna before the weather turned. This is where we all waited out the storm.

Italy Trip 2005, Varenna, Lago di Como, Italy

Next, lightening started to flash. Many of us tried to get pictures of the lightning but the rain was blowing straight into us. I gave up and put my camera away. I did not want to get the lens wet. 

Then we heard this loud noise that sounded like someone was shooting a gun at the roof! It was HAIL – Grandine!! At first, the hail was about the size of marbles. It was falling pretty quickly and the noise was unsettling. I managed to get one picture of the marble sized hail. 

Italy Trip 2005, Varenna, Lago di Como, Italy

The woman, who was safe and dry in her little ticket booth, not seeming to care at all about our safety, got out and moved her car under the covered area where we were all standing. This left us with a much smaller area to hide under so as not to be hit by the hail.

The hail started getting bigger, and no exaggeration, it had to be the size of golf balls. Hard ice balls. We could pick them up as they fell by our feet. As the wind moved one way, so did we, and then as the wind moved the other way, so did we. Finally someone opened up the little building on the other side of the ticket booth and we all crammed inside. It was very scary.

An even scarier thought was getting on the boat when it arrived. It was late as usual, but this time, it was easy to understand why. Fortunately the hail stopped right as the boat arrived. We all boarded quite quickly. Once on the way to Menaggio, the hail started up again for a short while. I think the storm was following us.

When we finally arrived in Bellagio, the storm seemed to let up. I sure was happy to be back at my home base to take a warm shower and get into some warmer clothing being the cold weather wimp that I am.

For dinner, I ate at the little bar right by my apartment, just in case the temporale (thunder storms) started up again. Once again, I enjoyed another wonderful meal, a plate of delicious pesto, at this little bar (never did write down the name). I had another gelato from across the way for dessert. A perfect way to end a fun day on Lake Como!

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