The attractions of Lake Como go without saying! We used the ferries to travel round the lake stopping off at pretty towns and villas along the way. Not only practical, they are a great way to admire the stunning scenery in a leisurely fashion. One of the loveliest trips we took was aboard one of the original paddle steamers, the historic Milano. We were heading up to the less touristy northern end of the lake following a tip from Julia, our tour guide on our day trip over to St Moritz (see here for last week’s instalment). She had highly recommended a visit to the Abbazia di Piona (Piona Abbey) – both for its beautiful church and gardens and to sample the monks’ alcoholic beverages, a cure-all apparently for all manner of ailments!
I will have to save the Piona tour for next week as some gremlins have been at work on my computer and I’ve spent a frustrating couple of hours trying to fix it! The Milano, however, deserves a post in her own right. Built in 1904 as a paddle steamer, she was converted into motor and screw propulsion in 1926. Today she regularly plies the lake route – normally in low season she goes all the way from Como City to Colico in the north (just round the promontory from Piona). In the main season she turns round at Menaggio and Varenna before heading south again.
We were enchanted by her old world charm and spent a pleasant time chatting to the crew about her history. If you’re staying on Lake Como, it’s well worth trying to find out the Milano’s schedule as it was such fun to cruise up and down the lake on such a beautiful boat and feel part of the lake’s heritage.
We passed Dongo (where Mussolini was arrested by partisans towards the end of the 2nd World War) and Gravedonna before heading across to the little landing stage at Piona. After several assurances from the crew that they would be back to pick us up in a hour or so’s time we headed off up the little wooded path leading to the abbey entrance. More to follow next week!
Copyright © 2016 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved