It’s not far she said. It will have a lovely lake view she said. It will be relaxing she said.
It’s ten in the morning and we are checking out from our hotel. Our new best friend Mirko is smiling and talking about our next destination. “Ahh – Varenna. It is lovely si? I wisha to go there myself some a day.”
Step one – Venice to Milano by train. We bought our tickets yesterday and the station is close so this should be simple. Except, our bags have grown mysteriously heavier at each stop and it’s a bit of a challenge dragging them along the cobbled streets. No problem, it will be relaxing on the train. By process of elimination, we find the right platform, negotiate the steep steps on to the train and find our assigned seats. The bags are more or less piled with all the others at the back of the carriage. Zoom – off we go. Zoom, zoom – bits of wheeled luggage start journeys of their own. I reckon it’s Ok because our seats are some distance away from the chaos, but I am given further instructions and go and squeeze our cases into a couple of tight spots that are more or less designed for that purpose.
Step two – Milano to Varenna. We’re expecting a few challenges changing to the smaller regional line, but even so, Milan station is an experience. We join the throng of touristas trying to decipher the flashing boards announcing trains and platforms. Our first problem is that you need to know the final destination of your train, and we don’t. Look, there’s an official looking young man over there. He has a white shirt and a tie. He has a name tag – Cheisa di Gesu Christo Dei Santi Degli Ultimi Giorno (translation for those of you who aren’t as fluent as I am in Italian? Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). Oops – he can’t help with the trains, but says he can give me a great book to read on the journey.
We finally find our train, and rattle off to Varenna without much further ado, well if you don’t count that little incident with the conductor and our non-validated tickets. At last we’re here. Surprisingly, it’s hot again. We wonder why there are two taxis outside the station when the town only has about eight hundred people. Some people must be really really lazy. Have I mentioned how hot it is? Did I mention the issue of heavy bags and cobbled streets? We’re not quite our best when we reach Casa Stacy. Our host, surprisingly called Stacy, beams a smile. “You’re in luck! The Inter Club is in town and they have a huge party in the piazza tonight! It is right below your room so you will be able to enjoy the local atmosphere.”
All is forgiven when we walk out on to the rooftop terrace of Casa Stacy. The views of Lake Como are indeed amazing. Just then, the bell of the church next door starts to chime. “No problem. It only chimes on the hour and the half hour.” As I write this, the party is warming up downstairs. Someone has found a huge bass drum. The bells are chiming but – we have a lovely view.