Last call for villas and villages

The two days of Sita’s vacation and our last days went faster than the wind. We spent both across the lake, checking out the picturesque villages and villas that are still whispering ‘watercolor us,’ but we were too busy moving around. It’s the tension between doing and being on vacation. Always.

Our favorite place, we decided, was Lenno, which has a Beach Club that makes the best apero spritzes and has a sandy beach – a rare thing here. Lenno also has the Villa del Balbianello, a spectacular combination of living spaces and gardens, with views over various parts of the lake from every nook and cranny.

Before it was finally gifted to the Fondo Ambiente Italiano, it belonged to an eccentric and ultra-rich Italian man. Aside from smoking a lot, which killed him when he was about my age, he also was into exploring: poles, mountain peaks, continents and whole civilizations, dead and alive. His villa was just the space to display all his acquisitions, including his 10 feet dogsled which took him to the North Pole, accompanied by a small army of men and dogs

His villa was adorned with 100s of prints from Lake Como as well as a unique and large painting-on-glass collection.  In the kitchen, which was originally a 11th century monastery, we recognized an original Brabantia broodtrommel (bread box) and a McCormick spice rack with 40 year old spices.

Getting to and from the villa required a steep hike up and down – this place was not for people with bad knees and hips, though for extra money one could get a water taxi to take you to the place. We opted for the walk at the hottest part of the day. Faro slept through the entire visit and was considered a good boy – quiet boys are good boys up to a certain age.

For dinner a friend of Sita’s from her ValueWeb network, invited us to his place further down the promontory, near Como.  A steep ride up and then down into the valley brought us, in two cars, to his place which was nearly as spectacular as the villa. The town of Erba is full of villas, though most appear uninhabitable, owned, according to our host, by the bankrupt state of Italy, waiting for better times.

Andrea and his Russian wife Irina and hairless dog Wicka (sp?) live on the top floor of what used to be a farm house. The rounded brick top of a cupola makes for the center of their living room – a place one should never get drunk in because a fall could be unpleasant. The couple are both artists/designers and have surrounded themselves which such interesting things that Faro couldn’t stop looking around event though he was beyond exhausted.

And now it is time for our farewell and I am in bit sad. The kids are leaving for Milan today because their flight leaves very early tomorrow morning – a long flight via Frankfurt and Newark to Boston.  We are following tomorrow on a late flight to Amsterdam, too late to catch our connecting flight to Boston. That was exactly the intent.

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September 2012
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