Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Lake Como and the Path to the Sighignola- The Balcony of Italy

My train leaves from Zermatt, Switzerland and navigates its way through the Alps to somewhere near the border. My connection leaving late, offers proof I must have crossed to the Italian side.
Lake Como
I arrive at Lago Como quite late after my second connection in Milan leaves tardier than the first. Missing the last bus, my AirBnb host very graciously offers to pick me up.
a large villa on Lake Como used for high profile gatherings/ events
a large villa on Lake Como used for high profile gatherings/ events
My hosts chickens- fresh eggs each morning
My host's chickens- fresh eggs each morning
Host's proud country home from the outside
It's a mystery how I ended up here, a function of price and AirBnb estimating distance by how the crow flies, which is, frankly, much closer than the forty-five minute drive through the windy hills to to the tiny town of Pellio D'Intelvi.

I set out the following morning having been woken by, of all things, a honking goose.






I quickly arrive in the town's center, highlighted by an artificial turf soccer field and a single cafe, wifi not provided.
I enter inside- locals gathered around the bar, shoveling out 2 euro coins for cappuccinos in the morning, and beer and wine in the evening. The ubiquitous slot machines sit in the corner, their flashing lights attempting to attract suckers like a bug zapper does moths.
Within a couple hundred meters of leaving the cafe, I'm back on the empty, windy road; walking it is a perilous proposition. Italian motorists, who are about as cautious as the ocean is dry, peel around the many blind curves as though they were on a racetrack. When I hear the revved out engine of a car approaching, I race up the embankment for some measure of safety.
hills on the Italian countryside
hills on the Italian countryside
frequent Italian balcony/ windowsill decoration- flowers
frequent Italian balcony/ windowsill decoration- flowers
I pass a golf course, a ball flies at me through the trees flying by me by no more than a meter. Once again, the random number generator of the Universe just misses.
I pick up the small white ball, and attempt to dribble it like a basketball for entertainment purposes. After a couple kilometers I lose her as she takes a bad bounce and rolls down the steep hillside.
a cemetery in the Italian countryside
a cemetery in the Italian countryside
video: the countryside of the Lake Como area

I'm content to make my way slowly up the 10 km it takes to get up the hill. The birds chirp, and the insects buzz, and there's little to do here but relax and appreciate my surroundings; plus every few minutes seeking protection up the embankment.
I walk for a couple hours before arriving at my destination- the Sighignola, known in English as "The Balcony of Italy," which overlooks the Swiss border town named after Lake Lugano. On a clear day one can see the high peaks of the Swiss Alps, including the Matterhorn. Unfortunately for me, today is quite overcast.
Literally overlooking the Swiss border on the Italian side. Just below me- Swizterland
Literally overlooking the Swiss border on the Italian side. Just below me- Switzerland

VideoThe Balcony of Italy, overlooking Lake Lugano and Switzerland

The city of Lugano, on Lake Lugano
The city of Lugano, on Lake Lugano 
I gaze at the view over Lago Lugano and beyond for half an hour, before returning and starting my walk back to town. It starts to pour, big droplets. I seek refuge in a rustic restaurant, which specializes in locally harvested wild boar. 
I depart an hour later as the rain abates momentarily, soon returning accompanied by rolling thunder. 
VideoTHundER on a lonely Italian countryside road
Italian countryside- quite peaceful. High above the lake
Italian countryside- quite peaceful. High in the hills

I make it back to town, the day passing quickly. I'm not sure what I could look back on and say I "accomplished," but in the Italian countryside, it really doesn't seem to be a requirement to have enjoyed the day immensely.
As the sun begins to set late in the summer evening


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