Lake Como

The more I visit Italy the more In love I am with that country. For me Italy spells love. I love the food (who knew there were so many types of pasta???), the weather, the cars and of course the mountains.

Mountains means lakes, waterfalls and rivers. I spent my childhood swimming in a lake so I’m very fond of this type of past time. If the lake is surrounded by stunning mountains, like lake Como,even better:)

If you aren’t based in Italy then the best way to get there is to fly to Milan and then make the rest of the journey by train or a car. I will focus on the train journey because that’s how I did it.

You can take a train from Milano Centrale or Milano Porta Garibaldi Passante.

I took a train from Milano Centrale to Varenna. The journey take about 1hr and return ticket costs around €10. There are up to 3 trains per hour during the week.

Varenna is very charming little town with a beautiful Castle di Vezio which is placed on a little hill. The hike isn’t the easiest one as it’s quite steep and can be slippery. There is a small fee to enter and the surrounding grounds are a breeding ground to few species of birds. Sadly I visited in January therefore couldn’t access it. The castle is closed during winter and reopens in March.

If you like quiet destinations and don’t need much to entertain yourself except for hiking poles and proper walking shoes, then Lake Como in winter can be a heaven.

Since I only had a day to visit I decided to see as much as possible. I jumped on to a ferry to take me to my next town: Bellagio.

The ride takes roughly 15mins and costs around €5. You can pay on board by cash or buy ticket at the port office.

Bellagio looks across northern arm of the Como lake. It has a population of 200 but can accommodate up to 900 tourists. It’s a beautiful, charming town with lots of small boutiques and cafes. It also has two gardens to visit but they are closed during winter season.

I loved walking amongst those little cobbled roads. Felt like I was transported to another century.

My speed boat ride wasn’t until late afternoon so I had a bit of time to explore this beautiful town.

I took a walk to a place called Punta di Spartivento which turned out to be a little harbour.

From there I made my way back to the main road and then decided to just follow it and see where it will take me. I’m really glad I did because I stumbled upon this little church:

That’s another reason I love Italy so much. One could spend whole life just visiting all those little cathedral spread all over the country. Each one with its own charm.

The Cimitero del Borgo was pretty as well.

Villa Melzi with the spectacular gardens was very tempting as well but as you can already guess, it was closed to the public.

Maybe that’s just another reason to visit the lake again?

Just before the villa you can see Porto di Loppia pictured above. I can only imagine how busy this place gets in summer, since they have so many ports.

As awaiting me was a speed boat ride to Como, I decided to have something to eat and maybe a little drink for courage (I’m not too fond of boats).

So I chose one of the local restaurants and had just what I needed: a glass of Port and plate of local brown pasta with potatoes, spinach and cheese. Delicious.

The speed boat ride to Como lasts an 1hr and single trip costs €15. The schedule in winter is a little bit less frequent so plan your visit well. I actually regret not staying over at least two nights. That would give me the opportunity to do some hiking as well.

Como was very busy and lively. Reminded me of Innsbruck a little.

If you are looking for a place to see the sunset from, then I would recommend taking the funicular from Como station to Brunate. Spectacular view. The train from Como to Milano Centrale takes an 1hr and costs €5 for a second class ticket.

I can see why George Clooney decided to buy a house there:)

If you want to find out the schedule for ferries, just follow those details:

Happy trekking:)

Amongst the red kites

Living in London means I don’t really have mountains on my doorstep, but when you don’t have what you like you like what you have.

England is full of National Trust trails ranging from abandoned railway tracks to walks through farmers fields full of grazing sheep and cows. Some of those trails are well designed long distance treks.

The Ridgeway is 140km (87 miles) long. For an intermediate walker who can manage 22km (13 miles) a day it would take roughly a week to finish the whole trail. There are lots of camping stops along the way. You can also did the walk in segments, like I do.

The trail leads from Overton Hill 174m (571ft) at the southern edge of the Marlborough Dawns in Wiltshire, to Ivinghoe Beacon 233m (764ft) hill in the Chiltern Hills. There are two car parks or you can take the train to Tring. It takes as little as 35 mins from London Euston and you can buy a return ticket for £10 providing you have a discount railway card or use the group saving.

I did the circular walk from Tring to Aldbury and it took me a little over 4hrs to do it. I wasn’t in a hurry, took lots of pictures and generally just enjoy the hike at my own leisure pace.

The path is well marked with signposts and makes for a pleasant way to spend an afternoon with a family or friends. However it’s not the easiest terrain for a buggy as it can get super muddy.

The views are quite spectacular I must say. Especially on a clear sunny day which didn’t happen when I was there but I still enjoyed it.

Some parts of the trail include “common land” which means the owner gave permission for people to pass through. There may be some cows or sheep grazing so make sure you will close the gates behind you and keep the dogs on the leash.

The area is also abundant with red kites. I love how graceful they look soaring the open lands with their majestic wings wide open.

Just to give you an idea of the whole trek, here is a pic of my route:

I use MapMyHike to mark the route. All you have to do is to download the app, allow the location tracking and remember to start recording as soon as you hit the trail and then finished it when you reach your end. The app runs in the background so no need to constantly have the screen open etc.

If you worry about trails visibility etc you can always use a gps device or a gps app. I have MapsMe and it shows me all the paths available in my trekking area.

Happy trekking:)