August is probably one of the best months (if not the busiest) of the year to visit Lago di Como, the beautiful Como Lake just one hour north by train from the bustling fashion capital Milan.
Even though I have been commuting back and forth to Milan on a regular base a few years ago (Love had been working there for six months for his previous employer), we have mostly spent the weekends back at our home in Munich. So funnily I had never made it to Como at that time.
So it came as a welcoming happenstance that on the first day of my latest standby pattern a few weeks ago, I won a four-nights-earlybird-shorthaul-tour with the first layover in Saronno, a small town about half way between Milan and the lake´s largest settlement Como. And the best, with enough time to take a spontaneous ride to one of Northern Italy´s most beautiful locations.
To get there is really easy. From Saronno, the trains depart once the hour, from Milan Cadorna up to three times the hour. Travel time towards Como Nord Lago station is about 60 minutes from Milano Cadorna and a little over 30 minutes from Saronno. As it is the final station of the train, you don´t have to be afraid of missing to get off at the right one. The trains from Cadorna operate at a nonstop base while if you depart from Milano Centrale station, you will have to change trains.
The return ticket from Saronno to Como comes at 4,80€ per person while if you plan to visit from downtown Milan, the fare is 9,60€. So really nothing to fuss about. For more detailed information about further connections and prices, check your personal itinerary at the Trenitalia website.
The lake itself is enormous. If you only have a few hours just like me, walking around the beautiful downtown area of Como is a fun thing to do. The romantic narrow alleys and back streets are just perfect for window shopping and there are tons of cute little restaurants and cafés to retreat to from the hot summer sun.
How lucky was I that our dear friends from Holland (who we met on our Panama Canal cruise back in 2015) were on vacation in the area just at the same time. I had sent them a text message shortly before the train reached Como Lake and as if it had been a heavenly coincidence, just as I exited the train station, they were pulling in with their boat into the marina right opposite.
It was a big hello as they did not know that I was coming at all until that moment and it was so great to see them after quite some time as both of our lives are so busy. We enjoyed a light lunch together at one of the small bars at the lakeshore and then went into Como for a little stroll.
They had rented a house about half an hour north of Como close to the tiny village of Menaggio. Unfortunately, there was not enough time to join them for a barbecue that evening at their villa, but Rob invited me for a boat trip on the lake which was so much fun to do.
The panorama from the lake was even more impressive and beautiful and we passed some of the most magnificent lakeshore villas. It was such a lovely thing to take a refreshing bath right from the boat in the center of the lake and relax with an ice-cold Coke zero on the comfortable leather seats afterwards while the speed boat was gently rocking on the water.
I don´t know about you, but this was my very first time on a private speed boat and I felt like a celebrity as we whizzed back to Como a little later with my hair flying and my hands holding my glasses on the nose.
Sadly, it was already time for me in the late afternoon to head back to Saronno. Viv and Rob dropped me off at the pier again and as I waved them good-bye, I promised myself that we had to visit them as soon as possible back in Holland. Those two had shared a dinner table with us aboard Celebrity Infinity and we clicked straight away. When you meet special people along your journey in life, make sure to not lose contact.
Even though we hardly get to see each other during the year, we manage to FaceTime once in a while and we even spent our annual vacation together last year aboard Holland America´s MS Koningsdam, which was a blast. The fantastic thing about traveling is that once you keep your eyes and hearts open, you will always return with beautiful memories and sometimes even with new friends.
I felt very blessed at the moment when the train slowly picked up speed as it departed Como station. I have a job where I am able to spend an afternoon at this beautiful lake with some of my dearest friends, what else could I have possibly asked for? No money on earth can compensate for this sort of happiness. Ok, I had to get up the next morning at an inhuman time of day, but the happy smile remained. Five hours of vacation can sometimes last longer than two weeks off work. Thank you for me being able to experience moments like this!
BTW, Rob told me that you can rent speed boats. Apparently, it is not the cheapest thing to do (3 hours come at around 300€), yet if you share it within a group, it could definitely be a fun thing to do, don´t you think?