Saturday, August 15, 2009

Of Lakes and Mountains and their towns

From the grand villas to the grand scenery of lakes and mountains and the towns that we stayed in. On the way to Lake Como we saw this, which was worthy of recording. Maybe this is what they mean by "smoke and mirrors".

How to hide a smokestack

First of our lake towns was Bellagio on Lake Como with a hotel room that opened right onto the lake waters

View from our window

Hotel Metropole where we stayed
(second top, right window, lake view)

and some very nice retail therapy in the pretty shops up and down the picturesque stairways, drinks under shady lime trees as the sun set and trips via boat to other villages around the lake for more sightseeing.

Shops on the stairway "street"

A beach in Varenna

Villa Carlotta across the lake

After Bellagio and after a very heavy storm we drove through extensive tunnels into high country with snow still on the mountains and electricity generated by hydroelectric power from the melt waters.

Entrance to galleria

High country

High tension power lines

We were surprised by the very extensive apple orchards, grown cordon style, very close together and cropping heavily.

Apple orchards



Balzano is a sophisticated town with delightful old buildings, many with paintings on the facades,

Decorated building
(Lynn caught on camera in an unguarded moment)

a cathedral square surrounded by arcades and cafes which the locals use all day, as did we, sculpture in the streets and a delightful market area.

Arcade with shops

Shrine sculpture on house

"Luna" sculpture in the street

Flowers in the market

Despite one enormous thunderstorm, we managed walks along shaded paths beside the river to the castle (now a conference centre). Almost everyone rides bikes and the centre of the town is pedestrianised. It is a lovely atmosphere.

Castle in its vineyards, right in town

Corner of a piazza, cafe for our hotel

The mix of the old and the modern was particularly appealing. The cathedral contained about six of these golden altars which were just beautiful pieces of work, and the street signs for old businesses were often very appealing, something we were to see more of in the coming days.

Golden altar

Shop sign
Mountain country in the background

Things we learned:
# Food in Austria is rich and very fattening, we have to restrict our intake of sausages.
# The Austrian (and German) beds are two beds pushed together, a doona each folded on top with no top sheet and the squashiest of pillows. A bit hard to get comfortable.
# Mountain scenery is amazing and the view as you come out of a tunnel is quite different from the view going in.
# The beer is good


  1. What a great trip. Your fotos are incredibly wonderful!!! I've seen many of the places (I am German) myself and your fotos made my think I have to go back to see them again.
    Have a save trip.
    Rose (big fan of Australia - been there four times)

  2. Thanks Rose. It is unexpected to get such nice feedback from a stranger. Our trip was amazing, all the more so for experiencing new cultures.


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