Category Archives: Literary Travel

Lake Como

Lake Como, Italy – A Beautiful Daytrip from Bergamo or Milan

There are few places I’ve traveled where I feel so completely at ease as the Lombardy region of Italy. I’m not sure if it’s the quality of the air, the familiarity of the way people look, the food, or something all together different, but Lombardy certainly speaks to my soul.

Lake ComoWhile Milan and Bergamo are both wonderful places to explore Italian art and culture, there really isn’t much better than getting away from the cities and visiting Lake Como – one of the most beautiful lakes in the world and a crown jewel of Italian masterpieces. Lake Como is the third largest lake in Italy.

Lake Como is shaped like a large inverted Y and has nine major towns and dozens of small villages along its shores. The easiest town to reach is Como since one can get a train from Milan, Bergamo, or elsewhere for next to nothing. The transfer station is at Monza, on the outskirts of Milan and from there you have a direct journey to San Giovanni train station in Como. Since the journey is only a few hours and incredibly cheap (6.25 Euro each way from Bergamo) this makes for an incredible daytrip. Another option is to come from Lugano, Switzerland through Chiasso.

Lake Como SwansTo come from further abroad you can take overnight sleeper trains from Amsterdam via Duesseldorf, Cologne, Frankfurt and Basel.

Special Deals from Rail Europe

Of course if you want to stay (and trust me, you will want to stay) there are a great variety of Hotels and Hostels in Como and the surrounding towns that offer everything from luxury to simplicity.

Lago di Como sits at the base of the Alps and the top of the inverted Y sits amid gorgeaous alpine scenery. For those who are curious, Como is a border town with neighboring Switzerland.

Lake Como gardens and villasComo was a popular destination as far back as the Roman era and has a considerable history even before that. Touristic sites include the beautiful lakeside mansions and the Sacro Monte di Ossuccio or Sacred Mount of Ossuccio which is part of a group of chapels leading to a monastery and a UNESCO world heritage site.

Tremezzo, Griante, Menaggio, Nesso, Bellagio, Verrena, Bellano, Colico, Lecco, and Cernobio are the other towns that surround Lake Como. Perhaps you thought the Bellagio was only a casino in Las Vegas? It’s a beautiful little Italian town and like all the towns and cities around Lake Como VillasLake Como it has gorgeous villas, lush botanical gardens, and incredible churches – but the big draw is the views of the lake and the Alps surrounding it.

Getting around Lake Como is easy. If you have a car, motorcycle or bicycle – the roads are just fine. Buses are cheap and frequent between the towns but the best way is to take the boats. Like Istanbul, this is a region that relies on ferries to move from one place to another.

Lake Como ParkA funicular runs up one of the mountains and offers spectacular views plus some incredible sites within the town itself.

If you are interested in more than historic sites, Lake Como offers a huge variety of outdoor activities from sailing, boating, hiking, camping, walking, strolling along the water, fishing, and even kite surfing or flying lessons!

Finally, for a reader and writer such as myself, Lake Como is a special treat (not to mention as a geek, I appreciate that I’m actually at Star War’s Naboo) but- in literature we have:

Mark Twain who writes about Lake Como extensively in The Innocents Abroad. Ernest Hemingway used the Lake as a setting in A Farewell to Arms when his character Lieutenant Henry talks about taking a vacation to Lake Como. Victor Frankenstein married Elizabeth in the vicinity of Lake Como in the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and Fyodor Dostoevsky mentions Lake Como in his novel Notes from Underground.

In addition there is Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities which has Maria Ruskin escape from New York to Lake Como and The Poems and Fragments of Catallus, In Praise of Como, Alessandro Manzoni’s The Betrothed , The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendhal, August Strindberg’s magnum opus play Miss Julie, Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s The Black Swan, Samuel Beckett’s play Endgame, and Gladys Theodora Parrish Huntingdon’s novel Madame Solario. There are certainly many more – and did I mention it’s also Naboo?

One thing for certain. It’s a beautiful and relaxing place and I look forward to returning.

Hotels in the Lake Como, Region
Como Hotels
Bellagio Hotels
Tremezzo Hotels
Bellano Hotels
Collico Hotels
Lecco Hotels
Cernobio Hotels
Griante Hotels
Verenna Hotels

travels of Marco Polo

Italian Vagobond – Marco Polo

Going around the world hasn’t always been as easy as it is today. In fact, the great explorers of the past often suffered great hardships to see distant lands. One such extraordinary vagabond was Marco Polo.

Marco Polo was the famous world traveler who traveled on the Silk Road. He mastered his travels through his writing, influence and his determination. He traveled throughout Asia and the journey lasted for 24 years! Now that is some slow travel! He reached more destinations than any of his European predecessors, he traveled further into Mongolia to China. Though he was not a round the world traveler, he was a vagabond who traveled the whole of China. He returned to tell the story, and it became the greatest boost for travel that had ever been written.
travels of Marco Polo
Marco Polo is well-known for his travels all over Asia. And he was the first European to travel to Mongolia and China. He became famous for his book where he explained the story of his travels to China on Silk Road. He traveled the whole of China like a nomad even though he was the son of a Venice merchant.

Marco Polo was born in 1254 in Venice, Italy. He traveled to Asia along with his father when he was seventeen years old. On this journey, he became the favorite companion of Kublai Khan, the Mongol Emperor.

He wandered all over Mongolia and China for 17 years and traveled to more distant places in China than any other European traveler. He became a well-known story teller when he returned to Venice. People came to his home to hear his travel stories about the East.
vagabond Marco Polo
There was a clash between Venice and Genoa in 1298, and Polo was captured and imprisoned by Genoese. Marco Polo read out his stories when he was in jail to a writer and later the writer published. The book was named “The Travels of Marco Polo”.

This book created interest in Europeans to trade with China, and inspired the explorations of Columbus and others who were in search of a quick way to travel to China and India. Marco Polo was truly an extraordinary vagabond.

Jack Kerouac Vagabond

Beatnik Vagabond On The Road – Jack Kerouac

On the road or on the seas, a vagabond must travel. It doesn’t matter if you have money or not, you simply have to see the world. Jack Kerouac and his friends were extraordinary vagabonds.

Jack Kerouac was an American novelist and poet born in Massachusetts in 1922. He is a literary iconoclast and a pioneer of the Beat Generation. Jack Kerouac was very much influenced by Neal Cassidy, they met in New York and soon became friends. Some people even say that they even fell in love with each other.

Jack Kerouac VagabondVery soon they both began the series of cross-county adventures which was mentioned on Jack Kerouac’s book “On The Road”. They roamed all over USA like vagabonds. Jack Kerouac started writing about their travel experiences as and when they were taking place, but somehow he was not able to find a style suitable to the content, and he put the project away in that frustration. After a series of letters from Cassidy to Kerouac , he began the project again and the letters gave him an idea to write a book “On The Road” and it was a success. The book became a sensation by catching the voice of Cassidy. On The Road inspired the generation to travel across America in search of freedom and adventure.

More about the beats and Jack Kerouac:
Jack Kerouac: Road Novels 1957-1960: On the Road / The Dharma Bums / The Subterraneans / Tristessa / Lonesome Traveler / Journal Selections
On the Road: The Original Scroll
The Dharma Bums
Memoirs of a Beatnik by Diana DiPrima
Beatniks: A Guide to an American Subculture

Personally, The Dharma Bums is my favorite of his books, though On the Road is much more famous.

Vagabond KerouacCassidy married many women and he became the father for many children, his life has been explained in On the Road by Kerouac. In his final years he settled down with Carolyn Cassidy in San Jose. Whereas Kerouac married Joan Haverty, but she left him while she was pregnant. Next several years Jack Kerouac spent his life traveling and writing. He took long trips all over US and Mexico and he fell into drug and alcohol use due to depression. He died at the age of 47 due to internal hemorrhage because of heavy drinking. Kerouac’s life was a good inspiration for world travelers!!