The other side to Lake Como

Bellagio, at the groin area of the lake, and Lago di Mezzalo, which forms the neck & head of our striding figure, sum up contrasting aspects of Lake Como. The former is one place amongst many, the latter is uniquely special in this rich man’s, & woman’s, playground. They are like the rough & the smooth, the rich & the poor (though which is which you’ll have to decide at the end), the fact and the fiction.

The journey to each is a contrasting challenge in itself. Hitting the high speed ferry, Bellagio is one hour south of Domaso (as opposed to the slow one which takes an hour longer to complete more zigzags down the lake).

Bellagio is stunningly beautiful with high end cafes, high end hotels, high end eateries, high end villas & gardens & begonia-forested planters & cobbled steps.

Everyone seems to be wearing high end labels, dressed to kill and impress with high heels and swinging carrier bags, elegant suits & slits showing off beautifully tanned & toned flesh. Visitors compete in short, shorter shorts, flimsy lacey numbers, slippy T shirts & floppy flips and fail at every level. Boatloads of loud, large (in number and, mostly, in size), presumably affluent, Americans troop onto jetties and are led off to be fed prosciutto & melon, pasta and an Italian dessert and to purchase some expensive local tat. Other visitors wander the streets, savouring wine or lunch or cake, or all of them, before joining a melee of a queue at the stazione to somewhere else on the lake.

The place is hugely picturesque and photogenic, especially looking out across the lake under a blue, blue sky, taking in the varnished launches, the crossing ferries, a steam boat, the water taxis and small car ferries to appreciate the grand buildings and villages backed by mountain peaks and jutting headlands on the other side.

Lago di Mezzola is a wetland area at the top of the lake, best reached by car. One side can be accessed before the bridge crossing a narrow channel of mountain water and the other by using the bridge and taking the road to Switzerland.

There is a settlement on each bank composed of old fishing dwellings and holiday accommodation – chalets, caravans, apartments.

There is nothing grand or imposing, except maybe the proximity of the mountains ahead – just peace, calm, contentment.

This is hiking territory plus off road tracks for cycling. No-one is in a hurry. Indeed the campsite opened up its cafe specially to serve drinks. The water side is serenely peaceful, taking breath away with a hush of leaves, its sleepy solitude, balancing trout and softly-gliding waterbirds.

Bellagio or Lago di Mezzola?
Groin or head? These days, the head always wins for me!

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