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Published: June 22nd 2017
Geo: 46.01, 9.28369
Today we took a "day trip" into the foot of the Italian/Swiss alps. Our train ride was just an hour long, but transported us into a different world. The temperature was a moderate 70 degrees. From the train station, we walked down a curvy road and onto a promenade walk along Lake Como that led us to the center of the town of Varenna (population 800). We were greeted with a light rain that became a heavier rain, but that subsided by the time we finished a lunch of pasta, sandwiches, and salad. The rain was actually refreshing as it was the first we've seen on the trip. Today was also, by far, the coolest day of our trip as we have endured many 90 degree plus days.
The most amazing part of our day was simply walking along the lake and through the small town and just taking in the scenery. Pictures will never do justice to such beautiful scenery. On the town square, we found another St. George's Church dating to the 13th century. Luckily for us, the organist was practicing during our visit, so were able to take in the interior with Baroque music in the background.
Across the town center was another, much older building, called the Baptistery. Our book said it was rarely open for visitors, but today, the door was open. This building was reconsecrated in 1151 but dated originally to the 9th century. (That's the year 800 something, people!) It was dedicated to John the Baptist and we think the fresco was of John baptizing Jesus.
After meandering up and down some narrow passages we found ourselves at the ferry landing and boarded a car/passenger ferry across the lake to Menaggio and back. The lake, with a depth of 1200 feet, is the deepest lake in Europe. We almost made it to another country as Switzerland was just over the mountains from this place. The air was cool and refreshing and quite a pleasant change from the hustle, bustle, and humidity of urban life in Milan.
As we were waiting for the train home, we had a "lost in translation" moment. A man from Hong Kong walked up to the marble seat we were sitting on, smiled, and said, "That marble is very fake." We knew we were sitting on some legit marble from the area. "How do you know?" Barb asked. He then made a gesture with his hands and touched it. "So you think it's covered in something?" we asked? "No, it's fake," he said. After some awkward glances, we all figured out that he was saying the marble was THICK. Even his wife burst into laughter as she thought he had said "fake" just as we had. So, yes, the thick marble was truly real marble and we all had a good laugh. Another highlight was a young girl on the train ride home who sang a number of songs in Italian as well as a woman who shared our seating area who was very gracious. Nonverbal communication worked well and she wished us a happy vacation as we departed. It's great to see there is such good will throughout the world and that people can share joy and kindness regardless of language.
Now we're off to dinner. Enjoy the pictures! Tomorrow we are doing a guided tour of Milan's highlights and will be up early.
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