It was a long first day but after a good night’s sleep I felt invigorated and ready to see more. I was hoping to wake up to sunshine so that I could first take some photos from my room’s terrace that overlooked the lake. But, as I opened up the curtains all that greeted me was more grayness and rain. Oh well – the weather reports were right. Still, I managed to take a few between the raindrops.
The day was going to be spent on a boat on the lake and I was searching my wardrobe to find clothing that would keep me warm and dry. Hard to believe that I would need a pashmina wool scarf in early October but definitely glad I brought a couple with me.
I had a quick breakfast and headed off to the boat that was located just across the square from the hotel. Luckily, it had an inside seating area so no problem spending the day in the rain. Passing by villa after villa we were heading North up to the village of Gravedona but first stopping to visit the Villa Carlotta museum in the village of Tremezzo. This famous villa with magnificent botanical garden was built in the 17th century between the lake and the mountains. By the 19th century, it’s newest owner built up the garden to include over 150 varieties of rhododendrons and azaleas plus other exotic plants. Inside, there are neoclassical and 19th century works of art including the magnificent and imposing sculptures by Canova. Since it was raining again, it was a rather quick walk through the gorgeous gardens that still impressed with its multitude of colors.
It was back on the boat to admire more villas along the water as we made our way to the enchanting village of Gravedona at the very North end of the lake. I immediately noticed an old world charm as I walked up the winding stone paths and steps of the Via Castello to a lookout point with an amazing view of the lake and the town below.
After that photo moment, it was time for lunch down at Ristorante Ca De Matt in the historical center. But before sitting down inside the cozy restaurant, I was guided to their outdoor terrace (covered) where there was a spread of local cheeses, meats, other savory treats and sparkling wine as the town’s Mayor, Fiorenzo Bongiasca, was there to welcome us. I felt so honored. Lunch was delicious with a variety of local lake fish on polenta followed by creamy risotto with more local fish and a continuous flow of wine produced in the nearby town of Domaso, There was even a delicious vino passito served with the scrumptious chocolate cake dessert.
Finding out that all the tasty meats and cheeses are produced at the town’s local farm, I suddenly found myself being driven up some very narrow roads and hills to Azienda Agricola Corrado Pradella to see where the cows are raised and well, you know the rest. There’s also a small market where their goods are sold and I only wish I had room in my suitcase so I could take a few things home.
Gravedona has many important monuments and churches and back by the waterfront is the imposing Romanesque Santa Maria Del Tiglio rebuilt in the 12th century over remains of a baptistry built in the 5th century for St John the Baptist. Inside, there are remains of a mosaic floor and lovely frescoes.
Just outside the church, is a pretty little house that turns out to be the home of Riccardo Gramatica, a local honey producer. His family has been producing honey since the 1800’s and while the production is still small you can purchase these products online at apigram.it. I saw a bit of the production, tasted a couple of the honeys and received a very cute stick pin of a bee as a gift.
I found Gravedona to be the most picture perfect, unspoiled and idyllic places and definitely will be making a trip back.
That evening, it was a short walk across the square to Ristorante Imbarcadero at the Hotel Metropole. Some members of the Amici di Como association (Friends of Como) were there to give a short presentation about an important sculpture dedication that will be taking place in May 2015. The sculpture, called Life Electric, is being created by architect Daniel Libeskind to honor Alessandro Volta who was the creator of the battery and came from the area. This is a huge event for Como and one that they hope will bring many visitors.
It was nice to finally relax with a crisp, cold glass of Soave and eat a tasty but light meal of penne pasta with porcini mushrooms, seabream fillet with vegetables and finish off with some pineapple in lime sauce.
A domani .. (until tomorrow..)
All the best,