Sisters in Switzerland - side trip to Torno, Italy


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Europe » Italy » Lombardy » Torno
October 23rd 2019
Published: November 6th 2019
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Since neither Lindsey nor Dana had ever been to Italy and we wanted a road trip, we decided to drive the 3+ hours to the Italian border, near Lake Como.

Road trip

We did not start too early, took the gondola to our car and took off. Dana drove on the way there and we took a road through the mountains. And holy crap were there mountains, long windy roads up through the hills, lots of switchbacks, curves, narrow two lanes... It was beautiful though! And not very busy of course. At one point at the top of the pass, we went through a tunnel where we had to wait while workers seemed to be barricading the top. In preparation for winter perhaps? Most likely since we looked when we got home and as of last week that road is now closed for winter. We were able to get some good shots, though it was a bit chill and windy.

When we finally made it to the main highway on the other side of the pass, we were hungry, so stopped at a random rest stop. Oh em gee. Probably one of the nicest rest stops I've ever seen in my life. You had to pay a euro to pee, but at least the bathrooms were nice. And we came out into a large cafeteria-like setting, which pretty much had just about any kind of food you could think of. Sandwiches, pretzels, pasta, soups, fruit, salads... everything. We each got a sandwich for our dinner later (mine was prosciutto) and got two pretzels to split on the drive. Delicious!

Then we continued on and marveled at the complete change in scenery and architecture. It definitely had a more Italian feel. The sun was shining. The town names sounded Italian. The architecture was more Mediterranean. It was a little weird as we were still in Switzerland, but it already felt like Italy!

Lake Como

We soon entered the Como area (at Lake Como), the directions having us get off the highway and go through town. Now, we didn't really have a destination, just Italy, so we had selected Como. The GPS took us right into the center of town, at this time around lunch time. People were everywhere. And they were not shy about just walking into the street. Without looking or stopping. It was crazy!! Dana almost hit one guy (we all disagreed about his age, since he went by our window in a flash), but thankfully we missed him.

Torno

We thought we might go to a town she had read about on the lake a little outside of Como, Bellagio, but according to the directions, that was still another 45 minutes drive. We were exhausted at this point, having driving about 3 hours already. So, we kept along the super narrow, windy streets with fantastic views of the lake and absolutely gorgeous architecture. At this point, we figured we would pick a spot for lunch wherever we could. So, we found parking in the town of Torno, right behind an old man who seemed amused by our efforts to park our rental car right up against a huge stone wall. Despite the quiet village, compared to the craziness of Como, we figured we would still have much better luck finding an open restaurant than we did in Gimmelwald / Lauterbrunnen area.

Sure enough, we meandered down some beautiful alleys, surrounded by Mediterranean style homes and stone pathways, to the marina at the lake. There were a couple of choices, so we went to the Ristorante Vapore, with seating right on the lakeside. The waiters were so friendly, and the food was delicious. We ordered a bottle of white, a local (Lombardy region) recommended by our waiter, and it was delicious! I got a vegetable ravioli with garlic butter sauce - licking my lips now just thinking of it. Dana got a spinach gnocci and Lindsey got a rigatoni with mushrooms I believe. We were in heaven. And so we decided spur-of-the-moment "maybe we should stay here overnight!" So, Lindsey booked a nearby Airbnb and we finished our wine. We went to the pharmacy for basics (like a toothbrush!) and got a gelato while we waited before showing up at our accommodation too early.

We walked to our airbnb, about 10 minutes from the restaurant, getting hilarious stares when we actually waited to cross the street until the speeding cars had driven by... We tried to figure out how to get in the gate. The poor owners, a middle-aged / young couple, answered the door, a little confused. But J quickly got us set up! She had me bring the car to park in the lower garden area, down a very tight, steep road and through a tiny gate - that was fun (and even more fun when we left). The unit was the lower floor of their home, like an in-law apartment, with a living area, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. We also had a nice terrace, where we sat and ate our sandwiches along with a bottle of prosecco provided by our hostess - it was amazing.

We all took a little nap, then decided to walk back to the marina area for a drink. We went to a nice little place called Bar Italia and got some real drinks (Negronis for them and Moscow Mule for me). It was Happy Hour, and apparently that came with a bit of an appetizer. Holy crap - a giant plate of finger foods, mostly meats with breads and cheese, three of each type so we each got to try them all, wishing we did not have our sandwiches. It was delicious! Our drinks were only 6 euros and we were getting all this too? What a complete difference from Switzerland! So, we kind of felt like we needed to spend more money, so we stayed a little longer than planned and ordered another round.

Grindelwald

The next day was a little.... rough... I felt ok, mostly, just tired, so I drove us back. Coming out of the gate, as I mentioned was fun, but we made it. Then I took the slightly longer way back, avoiding the curvy mountain roads and sticking to the highways, which included so many long tunnels I lost count. We made another quick detour when we got back to our area to Grindelwald, a valley along another fork from Lauterbrunnen. Here was basically a larger, and more busy, version of Lauterbrunnen. We did some window shopping and took some pictures of the gorgeous scenery. You definitely could imagine this place during ski season. We stopped at a little bistro where Dana got a pastry and Lindsey and I had ice cream - that was our lunch! On the way back to our car, we picked up some stuff to make chili for next two nights and Dana got some nice cheese. Then we were ready to call it a day. I made the chili, but that night, we had leftovers, like bread, meats, and our remaining pasta from the first night.


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