Saturday, July 28, 2007

Como - An Escape from Busy City Life

I originally planned to write about Vietnam today, but unfortunately I lost my Como city map, so I decided to write about Como first, before I forget anything.

First, how did I get the map? Como town's tourist information resources is quite limited. There is no tourist information office or whatsoever at the train station, which is quite a common feature in most of Italy & Switzerland. I was left without a map for the whole morning. Do you know what I did? I went to the tourist shops, looked at the post cards, recognized them, and then go to those places. Then I had lunch at a MacDonald's at Piazza Cavour. Hey, they have free tourist maps! Once I got the map, everything became a lot easier. Too bad, eventually I lost the map. Most probably during one of the messy lens changing exercises :)

Como is small town by Lake Como. It is so small that many tourist guide books may not even mention about it, but the impact this small little town has on the modern world is totally out of proportion. The many villas by the lake at this town are also fit for the kings & queens to grant their audience.

In Piazza Volta, stands a statue of Alessandro Volta, the greatest son of the town of Como. He is the inventor of electric battery. Every single electrical and/or electronics engineer in this world should know that the unit of electric potential - Volt, is named after him. Hey, without him, where do you get your batteries for your digital cameras, mate?

There is a Volta Temple at the west side of the lake, which is a museum established in 1927 in memory of A. Volta. On display are some of the instruments Volta used in his research.

You can find more information about Alessandro Volta here.

Como is also famous for the many villas along the lake. Villa Saporiti, which used to belong to Marquis Saporiti, has seen many kings & queens to be on its guest list, such as Napoleon, Tsar Alexandra II, to name two (I have forgotten about the rest, which is not important at all)

The biggest of all (or biggest amongst those open to the public) is Villa Olmo, just neighbouring Villa Saporiti.

Of course, as a typical Italian city, there is always a Duomo and many other churches & cathedrals, winding alleys for you to explore.

My Verdict: It is a nice escape from the busy city life of Milan. Very easy to reach, just 45 mins train ride by even a slow train. Not very expensive. However, if you compare Como with its neighbouring Lugano in Switzerland, I will choose Lugano. Como is a bit too rustic, whilst Lugano is a lot more posh (but more expensive, too).

Getting There:

From Milan, there are many trains going to Como town from Milan Central Station. It is like once per hour in the early morning and late afternoon. There are also trains from other train stations in Milan that can reach Como. You can check it out at the Italian train website: There are two or three train stations in Como town, the most common one is Como San Giovanni station. Train fare is 6.50 euros one way, 2nd class.

Getting Around:

From Como San Giovanni station, you can take a bus to the town centre, or like what I did, walk down the hill. It is a nice 10 minutes walk (or even less). Just walk straight, you will not lose your way. Go to Piazza Cavour and get the map from the MacDonald there :). Everything becomes very easy ever after ;P

From Piazza Cavour, you can see the Duomo, which is about 100m away; you can also walk along the lake to the west direction, you can reach the Volta Temple, further down, you will see Villa Saporiti, followed by Villa Gallia & Villa Olmo. If you walk to the east along the lake from Piazza Cavour, you can take a cable car up to the hill behind Como town. I suggest you do that in the morning, when the sun is shining on the town and from the hill, the light is just right for your photos :)

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