Fottuti Turisti!

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Thursday, 23 September 2010 at 17:38

Yes, that's right, yet more travels. It seems this may as well be a travel-blog, because there is nothing else interesting going on in my life lately. I can actually sum up the Erasmus experience so far (sans travels) in a sentence: We get drunk most nights and speak in far too many languages; occasionally there is food involved. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean, for me, that my excitement in the day has had to come from long journeys on multiple trains across Italy.

On Tuesday, a few of us banded together and braved Il Pullman to Vigevano, a town that is only 37km away, but takes an hour to get to because the bus stops in every little backwater village on the way there, and on the way back, despite passing the autostrada every few kilometres. It's a nice town, a little sleepy I think, and everything was pretty much concentrated within the centre. In fact, here are some photos of Vigevano, and they're all within a five minute walk of each other:
A Church.
A fountain in front of that church
Piazza del Duomo

Il Duomo di Vigevano

Il Torre Brabante
Il Castello Sforzesco

It really was quite nice looking town, but, compared to Pavia and Milan, it was just far too compact and quiet to warrant an hour (and €6) on the bus there and back. Maybe I'm just not that into the tinier aspects of Italy; maybe I'm like the Germans, and I like things big, and shouty and touristy?

Which would make today's trip to Lago di Como the perfect match for me! Having used no less than three different train types, two different train companies, and stopped at around 15different stations, I think I can safely say that Lago di Como has made me choose my favourite train type in Italy: Ferroviarie Le Nord regional trains. Here's a run-down of the three types (as if it makes any difference to your lives...)

  • Tren Italia regional - small trains that come in two varieties. One is slightly modern, and generally looks like it should be on a British mainline run by First Great Western. No shame with that. The other type is older, the seats are tougher, and the doors are automatic (i.e. they all open even if nobody is leaving the carriage).
  • Ferroviarie Le Nord Regional - double-decker trains that are perhaps the best thing in existence. The bottom floor of each carriage is split between normal seating and 'metro' style seating (i.e. flip-down seats along the sides of the carriage). The floor is much lower than a British train in these sections, so they're able to put all the proper 4- and 3-seater sections upstairs in a separate compartment. Not all the carriages have an upper floor, but it doesn't matter because they're just so damned nice to ride in. I had an hour from Milan to Como in two of these, and an hour back to Milan in another two, and I think I am seriously in love with them.
But enough gushing over trains. Let's get down to business. Lake Como, one of the deepest, largest lakes in Europe. It's around 400metres deep, putting the bottom 200 metres below sea-level! The town of Como is nestled in the foothills of the Alps, just north-east of Milan, on the south-western edge of the lake. It's actually not all that far from the Swiss border. The only problem is: fucking tourists (to use the technical term).

The problem isn't that there are tourists - that's to be expected. The problem is that they are ignorant tourists, the type of tourist I hate being when I'm abroad - the one who doesn't know the basics in the language and just decides to shout louder. Okay, the Germans weren't so bad for it, but the Americans and Brits - "One of those please!!" "Mi scusi?" "One...of...those...things...please." -- I went into the Tabaccaio to buy some postcards and stamps, and asked in Italian "Due francobolli per la Gran Bretagna, per favore" and got what I needed; the British gent behind me, who had heard clearly the words I had said just pointed at what I had bought and went "Stamps...two...please" -- I guess I'm just getting annoyed over nothing, because you can't seem to force a Brit to learn the basics, just like you can't push a cow up the stairs or a horse to some water...

Anyway, enough rant. This is already verging on the longest blog I've ever written (which somehow takes away the fact that it was called "nice, light reading" by a friend). So, back to Como. I'll let the pictures do the talking, as always:
Il Duomo di Como
(Not much room in the Piazza to take a decent photo...)
Il Campanile del Duomo
Il Lago
Como from above...

I actually forgot the name of this church...

Una strada...
High above Como, where I walked for ages and never found the Lighthouse.
Interesting? Maybe?

So, that was that. Como has a fair bit to see, you just really need to plan your day accordingly. Because I didn't have the money to spend (idiot, thinking it'd be cheap!), I left on the earlier 15.17 to Milan, rather than the 16.17. Still, it was quite nice. I just wish I'd thought a bit about planning it properly, so I could have seen a bit more of Como...and perhaps sampled some proper Italian gelato. Three bloody weeks and I've yet to have a gelato!! Che cazzo!? Personally, I still blame the tourists...


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