A Travellerspoint blog

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10. Can't Say No at Cernobbio

Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

sunny 75 °F

Cernobbio, Lombardy, Italy
Friday, April 14, 2017

On our final morning in Bellagio, Beryl is awake at 7:00; I am not out of bed until 7:30. Our boat picks us up at the hotel pier at 10:00. Breakfast fits in between.


Jennine--boat owner--and Luca--boat driver--pick us up promptly at the private pier belonging to Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni. The bellman has been nice enough to portage our luggage over the fine gravel path and down the gangway, being careful to send us ahead so that the loading of our luggage will in no way inconvenience us. So civilized, the Serbelloni.

ad86d840-2e48-11ea-9f36-054733e4f723.jpgad194960-2e48-11ea-9f36-054733e4f723.jpgThen, we are off. It is about 40 minutes to the private pier belonging to Hotel Villa D'Este. He was not in residence (Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?) so we did not bother to stop at George Clooney's villa where the gardens are more pretentious than the villa itself. Jennine tells us it has been his since 1998. We suspect it has stories to tell. Her only story is that she once dropped his parents off here but they were escorted to the villa by someone not George.

The air is crisp as we plow through the still deep (over 1,300 feet) waters of Lake Como. Formed during the ice age, one can almost picture the glacier that divided at Bellagio and flowed south toward Milan. When we are in the sun, the day is perfect. As we come round a bend in shade the temperature drops several degrees and we huddle together. I recommend cool temperatures to you as being good for relationship building.


Arrival at Villa D'Este finds another bellman on station, waiting to whisk our baggage to some unseen spot while we find reception and check in. It is not yet 11:00am and our room is not ready but no matter; the garden between the main building and the lake is spectacular so we settle in for two Americano coffees and Italian sponge fingers and biscotti.

Too quickly the clerk from reception fetches us for a trip up the grandly divided marble staircase to the first floor (the ground floor in most of Europe is "0"). Room 122 is a large bedroom with a spectacular balcony over the lake. Wonderful.

ad4f2670-2e48-11ea-9f36-054733e4f723.jpgae29f610-2e48-11ea-83c5-17f536b9b9bf.jpgae3826e0-2e48-11ea-a034-af2baed14f78.jpgae39fba0-2e48-11ea-9523-751507eb881c.jpgae236660-2e48-11ea-823e-3b65920d4771.jpgWe unpack and revel in our good fortune.

We decide to walk into the village of Cernobbio. I am unable to distract B4 from the eyeglass store--are you aware of her addiction to fashionable frames? She buys three from the store with the old fashioned KODAK FILM sign out front. They don't sell it, of course, they just kept the sign.

ae3a97e0-2e48-11ea-8d17-f5f4185f0df5.jpgae29f610-2e48-11ea-83c5-17f536b9b9bf.jpgadd6cd00-2e48-11ea-a78d-cbcfccc36bf7.jpgad904e20-2e48-11ea-ac2d-f75781001643.jpgad874d70-2e48-11ea-970b-03ce35a88c89.jpgadb3b4a0-2e48-11ea-970b-03ce35a88c89.jpgWe asked where the best pizza in Cernobbio was and both sources we asked said, Giardino's. so there we went for a pizza and glasses of wine. It was wonderful. But, then; so has this entire trip been. There is time to lounge on our patio--napping just a tiny bit--before we head into Como for strolling and dinner. Life is good no doubt.

Flashback: On July 8, 1945, the New York Times ran a page five story with the headline: "YANKS LUXURIATE IN LAKE COMO VILLA; Fifth Army Troops in Former Haunt of Elite Hail Beer, Hot Water and Waiters." Quoting: "Here at the handsome Villa d'Este, for many years the favorite haunt of well-known Americans, are 480 soldiers of the United States Fifth Army who have been sent to this beautiful lakeside resort with express orders to enjoy themselves." It says "gin and cognac may be bought for 30 cents." We are following those orders these seventy-two years later even though the price of liquor has risen.

The Villa started out in 1442 as a convent, became a hotel in 1873 and at a gala dinner in 1948 was the scene of "the celebrated murder of wealthy silk manufacturer Carlo Sacchi, shot dead by his lover Countess Pia Bellentani with her husband's Fegyverzyar's automatic pistol."

As I said, we plan on dining out tonight and dine out we do. After using up our "free" cocktail at the hotel bar (wow; $22 per), we are off on a stroll back into the village to see what looks good. We land at Harry's Bar. It turns out to be a good choice. Food, service, et al, perfecto.

We stroll home afterwards, climb the stairs and settle in for the night, wishing we could do this every night, every week, every year. It is idyllic here. We wish that you will some day experience what a fine time we have had.

Posted by paulej4 08:51 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

12. Presto dobbiamo dieta

an end to gluttony

sunny 75 °F

Como, Lombardy, Italy
Saturday, April 15, 2017

This temperate sunny morning is bittersweet as it marks our final day of gluttony.

Up and off to breakfast we make a plan: B4 will wash and dry her hair and I will walk the three miles into Como and then back home. Breakfast itself was quite spectacular on the terrace of Hotel Villa d'Este. Brisk air, hot americano coffee, eggs to order and more all served on crisp white table cloths by waiters arrayed in black tie and white tuxedo reflecting off silver trays expertly flaunted. Elegant? Oh my, yes.

Before I depart on my walk, I secure a late checkout until 1:00, just in case.

Sure enough, it is 12:55 when we pay the bill, store the luggage and grab a taxi into Como center to find out what is happening there. Our taxi driver suggests a fine little restaurant around the corner, down the lane and farther from where all the other tourists are dining and his choice proves prescient. La Cucina di Elsa sits under a flowered pergola on a side street not far from the main square. When had to wait for one of the dozen outdoor tables; it was worth it.01bd8050-2e4c-11ea-82ad-514acc56de1a.jpg01c325a0-2e4c-11ea-9b39-89b54044b4d3.jpg01beb8d0-2e4c-11ea-9830-094e26cbb420.jpg01c28960-2e4c-11ea-970b-03ce35a88c89.jpg01d01df0-2e4c-11ea-9f36-054733e4f723.jpg

I asked the girl at the adjoining table to take a photo of us and we soon were deep in conversation with her and her companion, a couple of Credit Suisse bankers from Zurich. We discussed the merits of moving to the U.S., either New York or San Francisco. We suggested Austin or Dallas.

Again, we ate too much.

We strolled Como and then grabbed the ferry for 2.5 Euro each, two stops away from our Cernobbio base. As we arrived at the Cernobbio ferry stop, it began to sprinkle ever so lightly and we had a ten minute walk ahead of us to the Villa d'Este. But, as has been the case all week, good fortune--or Parma Karma--smiled upon us and the rain cloud passed us by.

01cd85e0-2e4c-11ea-823e-3b65920d4771.jpgOur driver whisked us the thirty minutes to Malpensa Airport's Hotel Villa Malpensa where we will spend the night before our flight tomorrow morning. Wisely and being as full as we were, feeling no sense of sacrifice, we skipped dinner.

What a week.

Posted by paulej4 09:10 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

13. Home Stretch, Leg One

No London

sunny 75 °F

Milan, Lombardy, Italy
Sunday, April 16, 2017

Up on time, to breakfast on time, on the Hotel Villa Malpensa shuttle van on time, through check in on time, through immigration on time, in and out of the club lounge on time, boarded on time, took off on time.

Just the way to end a trip and begin the journey home. We are on an American Airlines 767, non-stop from Milan Malpensa to JFK. No stopping in London. Nice.

81fc28c0-2e4c-11ea-9847-8337c7611ce3.jpg81f487a0-2e4c-11ea-970b-03ce35a88c89.jpg81f794e0-2e4c-11ea-9b39-89b54044b4d3.jpg81f83120-2e4c-11ea-82ad-514acc56de1a.jpg81f15350-2e4c-11ea-9f36-054733e4f723.jpg81f09000-2e4c-11ea-823e-3b65920d4771.jpgLook who is on the flight? It's a guy who looks just like Bernie. He--and his wife--insist on keeping their window shades open. It is universally customary to close those shades on multi-hour overseas flights--day or night. Weird; they wouldn't.

It does make it tough for people to sleep or watch a movie but...

The business class cabin on this 767 is nice; the seat adjusts to a fully flat bed. But, of course, the jet lag minimalization goal coming home (unlike going over) is to stay awake.

Posted by paulej4 09:13 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

14. Home Stretch, Leg Two

with a slight change in route...

sunny 70 °F

New York City, New York, United States
Sunday, April 16, 2017

On time at JFK, quickly through immigration--thanks to Global Pass membership. Global Pass is like TSA Pre-Check on steroids. You fill out an application with the Department of Homeland Security and send them a $100 check--or, if your credit card company includes it as a perk, they pay for it. TSA does a background check. You then schedule an in-person interview. You get a retina scan and fingerprinted. If you pass, they give you a number which you include in your frequent flyer profiles and register when you travel internationally.

When you land back home at your U.S. gateway airport, you go to the Global Pass kiosk, scan your passport, put your fingers on the fingerprint reader, look into the camera lens and your data is recorded. You then answer, electronically, the questions that are on the blue form you used to have to fill out. In a few seconds, a receipt is printed. You take the receipt. Show is to an Immigration Officer who looks at it, looks at you and says, "Welcome to the United States."

No long lines, no surly Immigration Officer--at least so far in my experience.

B4 and I are both Global Pass members so we fly through after flying in.

We are early enough that B4 nabs the nearest American Airlines agent and grabs us seats on an earlier flight. Now, instead of taking a cab to LaGuardia and leaving there on a non-stop to Kansas City at 9:30ish tonight, we wait about one hour and grab a non-stop to Dallas to connect with a flight to Kansas City and get home, get ready for this: THREE HOURS EARLY!29a2e6d0-2e4e-11ea-9847-8337c7611ce3.jpg299ea110-2e4e-11ea-970b-03ce35a88c89.jpg


Posted by paulej4 09:16 Archived in USA Comments (0)

15. Home Stretch, Leg Three

Phony FA

Dallas, Texas, United States
Sunday, April 16, 2017

On time, on time, on time. You've got to love it coming home.

But, when B4 can get you an earlier flight connection and you save three hours, early, early, early becomes your mantra. Parma Karma is a different materialization.

Our flight from JFK to DFW is crewed by a somewhat disinterested team...even with us in First Class.

9ba9e170-2e4e-11ea-9847-8337c7611ce3.jpgOne of the Flight Attendants on the flight spends an extraordinary amount of time on her phone.

We land and taxi to gate C22.

Posted by paulej4 09:28 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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