During our travels, we've had occasion to stumble upon some great things. When I think of stumbling upon something great, I immediately think of an absolutely beautiful day while visiting Bellagio.
We still find it difficult to believe what we stumbled upon that day, and I think you will, too.
We were traveling with our friends Debbie and Scott (see last week's blog) and they decided to spend a day boating on Lake Como while we rented a car to drive into Switzerland.
Bellagio is not a large town and we were surprised to find a small garage that had rental cars. Here is our nice rental, complete with stick shift (do you remember how?).
[click on an image to get a larger view]
We got up extra early and we were just able to catch the last ferry of the day to travel from Bellagio to Menaggio, on the west side of the lake. Why would an early-morning ferry be the last of the day, you ask? A general transportation strike was set to start at 9:00am today, of course! It is Italy, you know.
With Bellagio receding in the distance, we made it to beautiful lakeside Menaggio, with its ubiquitous geraniums.
We took some time to have a light breakfast con Coca Cola Lite, of course...
...and for co-pilot Ellen to check the map for our route into Switzerland.
Along the way, we were treated to the fantastic Italian lakeside scenery, like these white swans skimming across the lake.
These guys were hoping that we would toss a bit of our croisant to them.
And the sun continued to provide gorgeous views as we drove along the lake.
The lakes in northern Italy are surrounded by mountains like this one.
Oh no! What's that blocking the road? It was the first of three buses traveling together that were making their way through a small town with it's very narrow roadway -- this is the main roadway along the lake, by the way.
They each had to move forward and back a few times to make it around the corner. We had to fold our side mirrors in, and with about 3" to spare the buses made their way past us.
Driving along Lake Lugano, which is half-in Italy and half-in Switzerland, we made a turn and came upon the charming little village of Albogasio..
Ellen suggested that this would be a great place to stop to explore life-on-the-lake in Italy. She saw the church you can see at the very top of the town and she decided that it would be our goal. As there are no auto roads in this town (residents park on the small pier that you can see sitting above the lake on the left), we sought out a way up.
A time worn path made its way up the hillside.
As we worked our way up, we had views like this one, which is Melissa's and Max's favorite.
We loved the rustic nature of Albogasio, with gardens and lovely views of Lake Lugano.
As we continued up, it was obvious to us that this village has been here for a long time.
Ahhh, getting closer.
And now the entrance is in sight.
On the lake-side wall, we found coats of arms painted on the side of the church. Each represents one of the seven archdioceses of Milan.
And finally, the door to the church.
We grasped the latch of this time-worn door, and...
...we were staggered by the inside of this small church sitting high on the side of the hill above Lake Lugano!
We've been in many beautiful churches in Italy, but we were stunned by this dazzling site. We found that this church was built in 1628 and was filled with magnificent 17th century paintings.
The ceiling above the altar has a painting of The Coronation of the Virgin.
The altar was adorned by these four silver bishops.
The two side chapels are also beautifully painted, like the one below. One chapel is dedicated to Saints Gioacchino and Anna, and the other to Saint Giuseppe. Notice that the scene below is all canvas with the exception of the alter with Christ's statue. The columns are not real, nor is the base on which the putti sit.
We were sad to leave, but we had miles to go on our day of adventure. Working our way down through the village, we found our way through the stone labyrinths...
...until we finally made it down to the road where we had parked.
This was just the start of a day of unexpected surprises. I'll tell you about the rest of our day another time. So, stay tuned.
Ciao for now,