Lake Como 2015

14 April 2015

We were at Lake Como twice before.  The first time may be in 2002.  It was at time that Alitalia still flew between Hong Kong and Milan.  We took a cruise to different islands.  The second time was in 2010 and we walked along the shore.  Lake Como is always a nice place to return.

This time we began quite late, and with lunch at Osteria del Gallo. It started the business in 1920. The restaurant's only decoration is cock. Hundreds, different styles in painting, as models, nameless but cute and sweet.  We were lucky to get one of the last tables.  Food was very good.  The owner offered two giant and most treasurable cocks for us to take photos. Exclusive!

It's time for exercise.  We started with the Cathedral. It is built over a Romanesque church. The construction   took 300 years and ended in 1740. The styles are Gothic and Renaissance. Inside and outside are full of art. For me, the most striking one is the crucifixion. Jesus took up our pain and bore our suffering......  Isaiah 53:4-5


Then we took the funicolare to go up to Brunate.  It is in service since 1894.  It changed from steam to electricity operation in 1911. Wow, 121 years in operation.  In 7 minutes one will arrive at Brunate, the end station, 750 meters high.  At there are already gorgeous views over the lake and city. We could even saw the skyline of Milan. But we walked up till a church and the lighthouse of San Maurzio.  It took about 45 minutes.  On the way are nice houses.  

The temperature in April was mild.  Continual ascending under the sun for 45 minutes was harsh but rewarding.  It cost 1 or 2 € to go up to the top of the tower.  It's worthwhile for the breathtaking views at every corner of Como .


We needed perhaps 20 minutes to descend to the Andrea Church we passed by before and stopped to glimpse the interior.  A short nice break and then we commenced the descend for more than an hour.  It's a pleasure to enjoy the nature and the fantastic views on a sunny day.



25 Nov 2014

It's a cloudy day and we headed up to Pavia.  It is a city in south western Lombardy, 35 kilometres away from Milan. The province of Pavia is fertile and well know for its agricultural products. Besides, it is an artistic and cultural city with several important churches, museums, university since the ancient time (founded in 1361) and a handful of colleges.

We began the visit with San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro (Saint Peter in Golden Sky).  It is a Roman Catholic basilica of the Augustiniansin Pavia. The name refers to the mosaics of gold leaf in the apse. The church is the resting place for Augustine of Hippo who died in 430. Documentaries say its body removed and subsequently his relics were back there.  

The Golden Sky in the apse

The exterior of the church is made with brick and sandstones.  The door frame is decorated with beautiful reliefs.  The highlight is the exquisite funeral monument, Ark of Augustine.  This marble work is dated to the 14th century, carved by masters from Como and styled Gothic.  It is divided into three bands: a base containing the remains of the saint with reliefs of different saints. 

The middle cell contains the saint lying with six young men spreading a sheet over.  The ceiling of the cell is also filled with elaborately carved reliefs of different biblical stories.  Ten panels at the upper register tell the life of the saint, accompanied by angelic figures.

Not far away from the church stands the Castello Visconteo, built in 1360 by Galeazzo II Visconti. It was the main residence of the Visconti family while the political capital was Milan.  Nowadays, the castle houses the Civic Museum including a pinocoteca, archeological museum, museums of Risorgimento, Robecchi Bricchetti, etc.

We continued to move to the university area and further down the main street.  Though with the gloomy sky our hearts were delighted to see the city with old beautiful buildings. The atmosphere was more relaxed vs. the hectic Milan.

Pavia was known as 'City of 100 Towers'.  Rich men at the medieval time built tall almost windowless brick skyscrapers to win over their neighbours. Today, some remains.  Here are three of them in the university area. At time were colourful parrots. One was out of a hole of a tower.  Cute!

The main street was the place with most happenings and little crowds here and there.  We saw a hall like the style of Milan's Gallery, a monument tuck away from the main street, creative store window design, etc.

Ha, then we jumped into a nice Italian restaurant (la Torre degli Aquila) as a consolation for the cold rainy day. The interior is like sunshine, bright orange and antique like decorations. Tools, utensils, old photos filled the walls. The restaurant was full. A nice fragrance lingered in the air. There was no menu but our pretty waitress told what they offered. My friend ordered Tuna pasta and fish risotto accompanied with white wine.  Very delicious! The homemade bread was very good too. I would go back to it whenever I return to Pavia.


After our sumptuous lunch, we strolled to the river side. There stood the Ponte Coperto 'covered bridge' which also called Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge).  It is a brick and stone arch bridge over the Ticino River and bridges Pavia and its suburb.  There is a legend about the bridge, On a day with bad weather, the scenes are more atmospheric and romantic.

The suburb is barren and empty. Some buildings were damaged and a bit decay. The food shop in front was closed and the buildings in the reflections were not in a good state.

After we have crossed the bridge back to the opposite shore, it began to drizzle.  We passed by the mannerist design Collegio Borromeo, built in 1561 for accommodating students.  Apart from serving accommodating and food, the college provides training to students to foster their capabilities. Admission is strict and competitive.

Nearby is a sculpture at a building of the Fascist time.

On the way is S. Primo and Feilciano.  It is a Romanesque church with a Baroque interior.  Inside is dark.  The best photographed art is the mosaic floor.

Walking in the rain and gradually we arrived at the Basilica of San Michele Maggiore. It is the first church devoted to St. Michael arch angel but got destroyed in 1004, rebuilt and completed in 1155.  It is built in sandstone instead of brick.

Inside is filled with beautiful frescoes and sculptures.  A crypt was situation directly down the altar. Funny reliefs dilute the solemn atmosphere.


The sky was getting darker and darker.  We quickly hopped to the Cathedral admiring the massive exquisite architecture and fabulous paintings.  I felt stunning with the incredible enormity.


Oh Oh!  It's quite late and got darker.  We must go home. Let's have a last glimpse of the city and shops with festive windows.