And so we boarded our planes and left for Italy, in two batches – one through Amsterdam to Milan’s Linate airport, the other through Newark to Milan’s Malpensa airport.

After a smooth tailwind ride from Boston to Amsterdam to Milan, it took us several hours to get from there to Bellagio. We had given the kids our Dutch navigation system – which got them to the right place even before we had left the airport.

For our direction we relied on my smart phone’s navigator which wasn’t all that smart and led us astray in very bad Italian English, away from Bellagio, up into the alps, higher and higher, though tunnel after tunnel, driving slowly behind groaning trucks.  When the signs for Bellagio had long since disappeared, and we started to get hungry, what with all those pizzerias every 100 yards, we decided to ask and were pointed back to where we came from with a compassionate smile.

After a harrowing ride over a road that should have been a one way street we arrived in Bellagio but our navigator lost its signal and with that we were lost.  Luckily Bellagio is small and we chanced upon the right street and found the kids had already made the place their own

It is a sleek duplex, furnished in sleek  IKEA-esque style – bright fabrics and light wood.  Like a chunk of clay, the street/small village that is our address for the next 10 days, seemed to be molded onto the mountain that rises out of the fork of Lake Como.  It is picturesque beyond description.

The entrance to our villa took us past the Asilo Infantile and then over ever narrowing cobblestoned alleyways into a small enclave of houses (a family compound?) with large inviting dining tables and doors and windows wide open. We met Rosa and Mario after meeting our landlords Antonella and Pino.

We are on the outskirts of Bellagio but since Bellagio is rather small, outskirts means you can walk to the shore and to the center and lakefront.

The walk takes you down a cobblestoned path, along houses that whisper ‘watercolor me.’  The steep walk goes along and through orchards and loaded fig trees.  We behaved and didn’t take what was not ours, our mouths watering. We have to find the fig market.

We walked down to the Sporting Club with its swimming pool, pool tables, great beer and pizza and melon with Parma ham.  Our landlord had called ahead to make sure we would be expected. A table set for five stood ready for us. After airplane meals we were craving something more substantive and tasty, something very Italian: a variety of pizzas, local beers and that Parma ham melon appetizer.

Too tired to walk back up the steep path we sent the men up to fetch the car and then drove to the waterfront, the center of town. It is the place where the ferries land and where the stately hotels welcome tourists and locals alike to their terraces. Most of the tourists seem to have gone now, which is fine by us.

From our living and bedrooms, we look out over Lake Como and its shores that are dotted with southern France style stucco houses with much iron work and cypresses, standing tall and straight, like guards in perpetual attention.

Because Sita’s work starts tomorrow we met for dinner with former colleagues of mine who are forming the facilitation team of which Sita is a part. Tired beyond belief, she trooped along and didn’t fall with her face in the ravioli while Faro obligingly slept through the entire meal. We left Tessa and Jim at home, figuring out the wifi hotspot gizmo we had rented and taking care of urgent business.

I think we are going to like it here.

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September 2012
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