Monday, April 17, 2006

Bellagio, Lake Como..Italy

Yes.. I know what you are thinking…and the answer to your question is, NO, we did not see George Clooney…but, as we were being taxied from the train station along the windy roads, our cab driver thought it best to pull over…on the narrow road without a much of a shoulder, just to point out a white villa across the lake, which in fact, belongs to the star..

I have to admit, I was a bit curious, and T will admit, that he wasn’t in the least.

The ride from Como took about 35 minutes, and had we known at the time, that there was a cheaper, less woozy option, we would have opted for the 50 minute ferry. But we didn’t, and as the taxi pulled out of the station and I went to put my seat belt on, I noticed a foul smell in the car. A smell that is all too familiar, and tickles the back of my throat, prompting that ‘gag’ reaction. I happened to grab the top part of the belt to buckle in, and as I did, I located the source of the stench. Someone, possibly just days before, had actually vomited in the very seat in which I was riding, and the belt still had traces of the dried and crusty remnants.

I know.. Lovely, huh?

SO, instead of holding my breath for a half hour and turning away from the belt, I did what I know I should never have done, especially on a road such as this. I opted not to wear the belt. I know, life is far more important than a little gagging in the back of a Jaguar, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

And, this is how windy the road to Bellagio is.

It is funny, because as we were driving, and the taxi was nearing collision at each turn, I thought of my parents and the fact that they had actually braved these same roads, themselves, a year or two prior. Was it here, Dad, where you scraped the side of the rental car, trying to back down a narrow street? I am just glad that we opted to turn our car in when we did!
Anyway, we did get to Bellagio in one piece, and I was able to hold my crackers down, thank goodness.

We had a lovely room here, with a balcony over looking the lake and the mountains beyond, really a beautiful place. I think that Bellagio definitely caters to the well heeled, and it is quite touristy, but there was something nice about this town situated far enough outside Como to be enough of a pain for some to get to. It wasn’t too crowded in the late afternoons and evenings, although during the day, there was a little more traffic.

I have to say though, that I wasn’t as charmed by Bellagio, as I was by Chianti. It seems to thrive because of the tourists. There were outlying parts of the town, that seemed a little quieter and more village like, but in the central area, it was hard to find that small town charm beyond the facades of the glitzy stores and over priced waterfront cafes. And, we weren’t blown away by the food. I think we were so spoiled by the simplicity and the quality of the Tuscan food, and here, there were more of the heavier dishes. I actually went on a recommendation one night and ordered something called ‘Pizzacheri.’ I envisioned sort of a pizza like concoction, maybe more like a calzone? What I got was this spinach pasta prepared with cheese and maybe a few stray pieces of potato and a couple of green beans. It sounds ok, doesn’t it? Well, the pasta was LITERALLY drowning in oil, which in part was from the MASSIVE amounts of melted cheese. I honestly thought that had I consumed the whole dish at that moment, I would have had a heart attack. Really, it was that bad. And, I am one who doesn’t mind indulging in gut bombs every once in a while, but this was above and beyond. Yuk.
We did find a cute wine bar, housed in a cave just below street level. It was quite authentic, which was nice to find in this town. The menu was simple, just as it had been in Tuscany, offering just meats and cheeses..and, of course, wine.
On our last night, we found another place. It looked cute from the outside, and when we went in, we found all the other English speaking tourists. I am not saying that that is a bad thing, at all, but I notice that the restaurants filled with tourists and no locals, tend to be the worst ones, for some reason. As if the location is good enough to catch our eye, so the food and service can be appalling. Well, this was definitely the case here. At first, the waiters were overly interested in us. I think that they were putting on their machismo Italian suave act for us, and when we only ordered two plates of the Gnocchi with Asparagus and Prawns (which came with literally three tiny shrimp and two slivers of asparagus) and water instead of the 50Eu Steak and the most expensive Barolo, they decided that we weren’t worth the attention any longer and literally ignored us. We even had to ask for the check multiple times, at which they literally mocked us to our faces. It was really offensive and quite the turn off…oh well, no tip for them.

It was definitely nice to get up to Bellagio, and it was such a great bonus to have a waterfront balcony. I think that made all the difference in our experience here. After traveling so much, and being always on the move, it was really nice to just sit, and read..

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