After nearly two weeks in Milan, I’ve already got bored with touristy places like Duomo and Navigli district. So I woke up Saturday morning and decided to go for a day trip to Lake Como (Como Lago) with friends.

As we gathered around noon, the morning chill still lingered, but the sky was so blue and all of us were so excited to start our first weekend trip in Milan. From Cadorna railway station, our group of 12 took the Trenord train to Como Lago which departs every 30 minutes and takes roughly an hour to get there. Getting away from the city’s hustle and bustle with friends from six countries and four continents is such a fascinating experience. We had so many good chats about food and travel, learned to speak languages of one another — at least some basic phrases to greet and how to say “I love you”…

A friend said Lake Como is home to American actor George Clooney and other celebrities like Madona and Donatella Versace. I pictured in my head some calm and beautiful landscape with lake and sky reflected, ancient churches, private villas and lots of flowers.

We hopped off the train at Stazione Como Lago, crossed the tracks and headed towards the lake shore. But things were not as I expected. The lake town was lovely but crammed with tourists, restaurants and shops. Apparently there was a street food festival on the lake side, with small food trucks, loud and funky music, moving statues and clowns so people were flocking there, bringing along their kids. What can I say! It was Saturday, and the famous Como lake is just an hour of driving from Milan.

We made our way through the crowded park along the lake to a wooden pier where we spend sometime to take group photos in front of “Life Electric”- a newly built sculpture dedicated to the Italian physicist Alessandro Volta. I did not get the meaning of its design, but it was good to find out this is homeland of somebody famous – the inventor of electric battery. From the harbor front we could also view Como and its beautiful surroundings — the boats ready to sail, the colorful houses on the foothills of the moutains and the serene lake surface.

View from Diga Foranea Pier, Como

From the funicular at the east end of the lakefront, we got in a packed cable car to Brunate, a quiet mountain village which overlooks the Como city and lake. The car was a bit stuffy, but once we stepped out of it, a beautiful wonderland welcomed us with fresh air, enchanting villas, fragrant herbs and flowers, tiny stairways every 10 mins of walk and stone paths that would eventually lead us to the Volta lighthouse.

Most of the time I walked with the girls to explore the town and take more pics, but at one point I could not help myself leaving them for a beautiful catholic church with angel statues on the top and a fountain at the front. Chiesa di Sant’Andrea – the St. Andrew Church looked new, probably it has been renovated recently. But from what I learned about the church, it must contain a wealth of history and art. The church’s decorations dated back in the late 19th and early 20th century (due to sustained work), and the paintings of brothers Recchi inside were even created from the 17th century. I’m most curious about Gothic/Renaissance architecture and meaning of statutes, and for sure I will make some time to learn more about those.

The centuries-old church of Saint Andrew in Brunate

I later joined my gang in the last stop of our trip – the lighthouse. From its terrace we could have a breathtaking panoramic view of Como, but when it comes to this moment, I just wish everyone else would disappear and return the absolute tranquility to this place. I was thinking may be I would come back alone on a week day and spend more time walking really slowly here, just to breathe deeply, smell the flowers and enjoy the stunning and serene landscape.

View of Como branch of the Lake from the lighthouse in Brunate

The day trip was not enough for us to learn about the beauty of Brunate, or even Lake Como. In fact, the lake has the shape of an inverted letter “Y” where the northern branch begins at the town of Colico, while the towns of Como and Lecco sit at the ends of the southwestern and southeastern branches respectively. What we saw was just the most populated part of the whole stunning lake, where most of tourists go. But we left the town with beautiful memories, a closer bond with my classmates, and an unwritten promise to come back…

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