So after cancelling our intended plan to visit the islands of Brisola, we therefore went to Como instead … before making our way back to Lausanne. Fortunately, I had my passport with me so it was not a problem for us to go and visit Como. For those who have not heard of Como, it is a popular lakeside town in Italy. So a passport is necessary to cross the border … even if one might not necessarily have their passport checked … as was the case with this trip.
Now, in case you wonder whether I make a habit of carrying my passport with me when we travel in Switzerland … the answer is, of course no lah! I do not normally bring my passport with me when we travel within Switzerland. However, it is prudent to bring a passport when going to Locarno because … depending on which train one takes to travel to Ticino, there might be checks by immigration officers on board the train.
You see, there are different train routes to get to Locarno from Lausanne … but the fastest – and which also happen to be more scenic since it passes through an area called Centovali (hundred valleys in Italian) – is the one which includes a train called FART, which leaves from Domodossola. The only problem with this particular route is that the train will pass through Italy before entering Switzerland once again to reach Locarno. So sometimes immigration officers will get on board to do a passport or identity card check. Remembering our bad experience upon our first visit to Locarno to meet up with my friend who was there for the International Film Festival (when I had forgotten to bring my passport and was asked for it by the Italian immigration officer) … I made sure I had it with me this time!
Anyway, just like Ascona, this was my second visit to Como. The first time we were there, we accidentally overshot the train station as we were not too sure which stop to get off the train and ended up having to change tracks and take another train to go back one station! 🙂 This time round, of course no such problem lah: we knew where to get off the train … and from there where to go to get to the lake side.
We did not stay very long … just long enough to take a ride on the funicular to go up the hill and then have a late lunch near the lakeside – it was important to eat something because we would have a loooong train ride home back to Lausanne (more than 6 hours!)
And here are the photo shots (click to enlarge or place mouse cursor on picture to display captions) of our trip to Como … enjoy!
Passing by the station at Gordola …
… and changing trains at Giubiasco station … to board the Bellinzona – Chiasso line (via Lugano).
Passing along Lugano with Lake Lugano in the background … (as seen from the train).
New residential blocks springing up on each of our visits … which is understandable given that the view is so nice … especially some 200-300 metres from here (the area is called Paradiso). This shot was taken as we made our way to Chiasso, where we then changed to an Italy-bound train in order to get to Como.
Finally … the train station in Como, Italy. From here, we made our way down (the flight of stairs though the park) …
… to go to the lake area … passing through streets with some nice buildings (right picture).
Close up of the buildings with trompe-l’œil (left) and nice paintings (right) … on them.
Arriving at the Piazza Alessandro Volta (1745-1827) … named after one of the city’s most famous citizens …
… which is one of several squares in Como.
Another square called Piazza Camillo Benso Conte di Cavour, which is just across the lake of Como.
Views of the lake as seen from the left and right of the piazza.
Instead of walking along the lake promenade, we decided to first turn and head towards this imposing looking building to have a look around the area near it, walking along Via Vittorio Emanuele II.
The Broletto (left), which was erected in 1215 used to be the city town council in the middle ages, but is now an exhibition centre. Right next to it is the cathedral (Il duomo), which was built between the 14th and 18th centuries in a mixture of styles: Gothic, Romanesque, Renaissance and Baroque.
And then while I waited near the cathedral, the hubby decided to take a quick look further down the street … and came upon …
… this interesting building called Basilica di San Fedele (Basilica of San Fedele) which was built in the 12th Century.
The interior architecture is a mixture of Renaissance and Baroque styles dating mostly from the 15th Century.
From there, we then made our way towards the lake and took a walk along the lakeside promenade (Lungo Lario Trieste), which unfortunately was in the midst of some repairs or upgrading work along some parts.
The Como lakeside as seen from the other end of the promenade.
We happened to pass by these two men on a jetty at the harbour, who were busy …
… taking photos of these three small and cute models … which stood at the edge of the jetty, cooperating very well with the two photographers! hehehe 🙂
Continuing our walk along the lakeside, until we arrived at the funicular station. We had not planned to go on a funicular ride, but decided to do so since we were already near the station.
The funicular station at Como which was inaugurated in 1894. A return trip to Brunate (located at the top of the hill) costs EUR5.10 per person.
A retro-looking carriage (in lilac colour, no less!) coming into the station … which was misleading, given that it was not even three years old. 🙂
As we were among the first to board the funicular (having just missed the earlier one) … we were able to stand at the very front of the carriage so as to have a very good view … as the funicular made its way to the top of the hill.
The view along the track as we made our way up … and then approaching an intersection where the track separates into two … to allow for two carriages (going down and going up) to pass through at the same time.
A bright red carriage making it way down the track … heading towards the Como lakeside.
Approaching the end of the ride at the top of the hill. There was already a queue forming, waiting to take the carriage down hill back to Como.
The view from the funicular station at Brunate, situated at 720 metres.
Only one word to describe it …. magnificent! Just check out the Alps in the background.
Outside the station, we saw that there was a small flea market that afternoon. So we decided to peruse through some of the stalls with interesting looking stuff. We saw some nice old wooden furniture on sale that I would have lurveed to get my hands on … if only there was space for them in our flat! Of course, trying to bring the furniture back to Lausanne would be another BIG problem! 🙂
The view of the valley (with a lake on the left) … as seen from a place not far from the flea market.
And as we were making our way up the hill, we saw that there was a small communal library nearby! Oh wow, how wonderful! As a (former) librarian, I always feel a small jolt of pleasure whenever I chance upon small public libraries during our excursions to small villages and towns. And seeing that the door to this library was open (even though it was a Sunday) … how could I not peek in to take a quick look? 🙂
Inside the small library … which reminded me of another small communal library that the hubby and I came across in a small village during our day trip to see Mount Etna in Sicily. I just love the cosy feeling of these small communal libraries in Italy … which are quite different from the modern public libraries in Singapore that I was used to! I did not see anybody around, but could hear some singing practices going on in one of the rooms in the library.
Just across the small street from the library was this panoramic restaurant with a sweeping view of the lake and the mountains.
Do you not just love the view? It was tempting to go and have a drink at the restaurant … I can tell you that! 🙂
Sant’ Andrea Church (Chiesa di Sant’Andrea) located on this hilltop village.
Frontal view of the church as seen from across the road. We walked a bit further before deciding that it was time …
… to make our way back to the funicular station so that we could go down to Como. It was a bit of a rush but since we would have a long train ride home, so we could not afford the luxury of taking the time to check out all the nooks and corners of Brunate … or even Como, for that matter! (You know what this usually means, right? hehehe :))
There was already a crowd of people when we reached the station … which meant that we were not among the first to get into the carriage … and which also meant that … we did not get to place ourselves at the front of the carriage to have a good view of the beautiful surroundings as we were going down … shucks! Hmmm … better luck (to us) next time lah!
Back at the train station, after stopping for a quick meal in one of the small café along Lake Como … to try to catch the five-something train back to Chiasso and then changed to another train to Lausanne.
We had a bit of excitement while trying to get our train ticket to go back to Switzerland. After spending whatever euros that we had on food, ice cream, funicular rides and some mountain magazines for the hubby (one of the reasons why he wanted to go to Como as he could not find any Italian mountain magazines in Locarno on Sunday morning), we found out that we did not have enough to pay for our train ticket! Unfortunately, I did not bring my credit card, and the hubby could not remember the pin number for his … and they did not accept Swiss francs, either! Oh dear …
While we were contemplating what to do … and the fact that we are going to miss the train … the hubby later realised that he had mentioned the wrong station in Switzerland to the ticketing staff, i.e. Lugano, which is further away (than Chiasso) and would therefore have cost more. As we did not want to queue again, we tried using the self-service machine and true enough it cost less than EUR2 per person for a train ride from Como to Chiasso … and we had enough to pay for that! Pheww …
And the best thing of all … we did not miss our train because … the hubby had got his train schedule wrong, too!! hehehe … but of course, not before we had rushed from track to track wondering where was the train that we were supposed to take and whether we had missed it! 😉