Pentecost Winefest in Lake Como

Whenever I tell someone we spent the weekend in Italy’s Lake Como region, they always ask if we saw George Clooney.

Well, we didn’t. But we had a swell time even without him.

Sarah spotted a deal on a hotel in the region over a holiday weekend in Germany, and we were running low on olive oil and hard cheeses (grana padano, parmesan, pecorino romano, and the like), so we snapped it up and planned a trip, even stopping in Munich to pick up a pal.

While lunching a few weekends ago in Munich, yet another Münchner pal told us he’d be in the area as well, with friends visiting from Australia…why not join forces? Why not indeed!


We left our apartment at 4:45 Saturday morning and were in Munich for the first stop at 6:15. From there it was down to Lindau, in the area where four countries come together:

  • Germany
  • Austria
  • Switzerland
  • Liechtenstein

We bought a 10-day vignette for Austria and the whole-year pass for Switzerland — ’cause them’s the breaks — and drove on to Hinterrhein. P6078572P6078568It was there that we used — nay, enjoyed — the niftiest public toilet I have ever seen in person.

It’s basically a big ol’ sink with a flip-down on-demand seat for perching above it. A stream of water from a spigot on the wall sprays into that same basin and that’s where you get your hands clean, too. The landscape was nice, too.

We finally arrived at our hotel, checked in, snagged a personal pizza at its in-house bakery and tumbled back into the car en route to Colico.

Colico in Cantina Winefest

When we got there, our pals had already arranged the tickets for us: 12€ a head for seven different wine samples, chunks of bread, and salami in the cellars of houses set into the hills. We got the details from here and opted for the red wine route.

We didn’t get back to the hotel until quite late. That was such a long day that we were sound asleep instantly.

The Region

P6088612The next day we did some daylight exploring on foot, but we quickly discovered there was pretty much nothing going on in our town. So we got back in the car and drove to Varenna (not to be confused with Ravenna).

We tromped around there, had a great lunch, and drove back down to dinner in Cassago Brianza. Finding nothing but a Döner joint open withing walking distance, we decided to eat at the hotel. That was a bit of a disaster, waiting nearly two hours for dinner to be served, but they were gracious and comped our wine and desserts.

Last Day and Return

P6098661Our final day was a visit to a grocery store to stock up on olive oil and cheese. Our car has a 12V power port in the trunk, and combined with a DC-powered cooler, that kept our cheese cold over the course of the trip back. We also opted for a different route, thanks to a tip from a pal: we drove up — literally — through more of Italy toward St. Moritz, continued to the Vereina Tunnel, and put our car on a train for 18 minutes, shortcutting us through the mountains. Also literally.

We are looking forward to visiting the region again. We didn’t stock up on a whole year’s worth of Italian staples this time, so we just might be back in the fall.

5 thoughts on “Pentecost Winefest in Lake Como”

  1. The Honourable Husband

    Great weekend! Glad you made it up the switchblade OK. I was a little worried that the mighty Seat would have some trouble with the climb to the Engadine Valley, but I should have known better! Glad you went to Varenna, too. It’s charming, isn’t it? Ciao!

    1. cliff1976

      It was a bit iffy: fun for the driver, less so for the passengers. Luckily a Postbus cleared the path much of the way up for us.

      That route is not for the fearful-of-second gear, if you have a little 3-banger like ours.

      We are so glad we took that trip and did the wine festival together — thanks again!

  2. Rachel

    We are so close to Italy and yet I spend far too little of my time there! It looks like a lovely weekend, glad you stocked up on some oil and cheeses!

    1. Sarah

      Hi Rachel,

      It’s hard to conceptualize that it only takes 5 hours to get there. I’ve spent 5 hours alone today on laundry – if I’d done a load a day all week, I could’ve gone to Italy! And the drive is so beautiful that it’s easily part of the fun.

      Only problem now is the overwhelming amount of cheese we’ve consumed in the last two weeks. Nice problem to have, though.

  3. […] our car down to first gear to keep moving forward; not even in the Alps on the Swiss-Italian border earlier this year! […]

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