By Rail - It's A One Minute Stop On The Wandering Nomad's Road Less Traveled
Varenna, Italy. Even though we landed in and enjoyed the sites, food and architecture of the very cosmopolitan Milan, our eyes blinked and our hearts leaped at the first site of Lake Como from the "left side" of the train as we rounded the last bend heading into this small lakeside town of eight hundred. Varenna, strategically located on the shores of Lake Como, was to be our first real experience of the Italy we had read and dreamed about. And to arrive at this small, less visited part of the Italian Lake District by train, we felt like actors in a 1940's romance novel. We knew we were not in Kansas or Tampa any more!
Back in Milan, still not acclimated to the ways of this great country, we apprehensively searched for our train to Varenna. Then I remembered the advice of travel guru Rick Steves specific to Varenna. Destination Varenna appears nowhere on the computerized Arrivals/Departure screens in Milan's Central Station. And the train station in Varenna is actually called Varenna-Esino. And the train stops literally for one minute. And, if you do not get off quickly, you will end up in the next town. And you will have to backtrack. So, like the good readers of Rick Steves we are, we did pay attention and got off at the right place. Stupendo! The adventure was officially underway.
If You Are Gonna Sleep In An Ancient Monastery - It Should Be Thoroughly Modern, Right?
Hotel Emero Gaudio has adroitly overlaid and inserted a simple modern design motif, comprised of white walls, tile floors and minimalist furniture, into the rough hewn stone walls and arched walkways of a 600 year old hand made masonry monolith. This duality of design is not some aesthetic trick but rather a merging of modern and ancient forms to create personal and public spaces of serenity and elegance. And the bathrooms? I have posted before about the need Americans have for large stuff and that certainly applies to bathrooms. All one needs to do is walk through a "Parade of Homes" McMansion and see what falso opulence and garish design can accomplish for people with too much money and too little restraint. For those who are so inclined, the Emero Gaudio will not be your kind of place. The bathrooms continue the clean lines found in the rooms. Small and efficient, they are more than adequate to meet the needs of tired and/or dirty Nomads in need of life's basic needs for cleanliness and refreshment. And the price for these elegantly styled, comfortable rooms with a view to die for? A mere $135 euro per night. Even with the sorry state of the dollar, it's a steal.
And the design quality does not stop with the rooms. We have all heard the expression, usually expressed by architects, that a building has "good bones". Because of the original massive masonry structure, this characteristic is everywhere apparent to this Nomad. The public spaces have a character that continues the interplay of ancient stonework and modern plaster, tile work and minimalist detailing.
And Then There Is the Terrace
As the sun set and the day transitioned to evening, we retired to our room, tired from the day's travels, secure in the knowledge that we would wake up the next morning in a new hotel/monastery, on the side of a mountain with a breathtaking view of the incomparable Lake Como in a small Italian hamlet with all vestiges of jet lag completely vanquished.
Next up. Day two - Varenna and the big lake.
Travel Quote of The Week - “When you come to a fork in the road….take it” – Yogi Berra . Now that's some advice that any Nomad can take to heart.
Video Artist of The Week - Paul Simon. This singer/songwriter and impresario of every genre of music imaginable is always worth a listen. The irony of You Can Call Me Al certainly makes one think and smile at the same time