He’s quite the sage is Uncle Ben. I’m talking here about my dad’s youngest brother and not the old bloke who does the savoury rice dishes. Not for the first time, I’m very pleased I took his advice.
‘Lake Como, chap. You don’t need too long in Milan, boy, get yourself up there for a bit.’
He’s right. Alan Partridge’s über-glib put down of London; ‘go there and be stabbed or under-appreciated’ could apply equally to Milan. More so, if anything.
In the fast-paced hustle and bustle of the one of the world’s couture capitals, I concurred with Steve Coogan’s character’s first point. Thankfully, the second even more tangible point doesn’t happen.
I spend much of my time in the city seemingly swimming against the wash of the immaculately sculpted and impeccably groomed. Frankly, if style’s not your thing (And with my hair and dress-sense, it’s fair to say it’s never been mine…) there’s little reward for spending much time there.
And, if money’s not your thing either (again, something I’m not great at…), then there’s much to see but little to do here too. Don’t get me wrong, Milan is well worth a visit, but I had hoped for more from the first stop on my maiden Italian adventure*.
Como, on the other hand, is a treat. Walking down from the station through the city’s walls, an instant calmness becomes the visitor. Alpine vistas stretch into the distance, the greenery pockmarked by the hill top residencies of the savvy Savoys. Stowed boats lol passively**. The autumn colours and bright sunshine make for a transfixing blend with the serene skies. The gentle lapping of the lake upon the shore and the boastful fly pasts of the local sea-planes all add to the peaceful scene.
A stroll by the lake soothes the soul. A walk through the labyrinths of stone clad courtyards likewise. All in all, Como is a very acceptable choice for a lazy Sunday morning.
Admittedly, by the time I choose to take my leave, Milanistas and visitors from further afield have cottoned on to the majesty of the Southern Alps. I climb the steps back to the station and get ready for my second big night of the weekend…
*Not a euphemism. Sadly.