Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My Book Tours Italy -- Lake Como

I have not been gone away on an Italian book tour. However, my book, American Cool, did recently tour all around Italy. I'll be posting the highlights in photos here over the next couple of weeks. I hope you enjoy it, as my book thought it was all bellissimo!

Lake Como in northern Italy is one of the most beautiful and unique places in the world. The charming, pastel colored buildings are carved into the Alps, which frame the temperate, fresh water lake. Here is my book arriving in the town of Como.

Here's a shot of the view from the main town square in Como.

And here's a view of the main town road in Como. On the left is the boat and ferry dock where you can catch fast or slow boats to other towns around the lake, and on the right leads into the town.

Now, I'm not going to lie to you. The town of Como isn't exactly a hotbed of excitement, but it's just north of Milan, and my book came prepared to do some serious shopping in the fashion capital of Italy.

Uh, my book is much more adjusted to Target prices, and the Italian labels and tanked dollar compared to the Euro took a quick and nearly fatal toll upon my book's bankroll. One fancy pair of shades, and my book was damn near broke with three weeks of travel left.

Luckily, just a 35 minute drive from Como is the Casino de Campione on the adjacent Lake Lugano. Situated in an Italian enclave within Switzerland, Casino de Campione was recently rebuilt into a very large facility featuring European games such as Chemin de Fer (the Euro version of Baccarat) and, even better, American games such as Black Jack. If you know anything about my book, you know that Black Jack is its sweet spot. So, faced with perilously low funds, my book made the trek to the casino to take a chance.

Things worked out well. Very, very well.

My book shares many of my passions, including sport. My love for the Italian National Soccer (Calcio) team -- the Azzurri, is unwavering. However, when my book visited, it was in the middle of club season. Luckily, the club Juventus stars a few of the Azzurri's players, too. Alessandro Del Piero, Mauro Camoranesi, and, of course, my beloved goalkeeper, Gigi Buffon!
So, we decided to celebrate the gambling good fortune with a train ride to Turin to catch a Juventus match. Bianconeri!

It's been said that money won is twice as sweet as money earned. True. But there's something even sweeter -- and that's going ahead and totally fucking blowing that won money on ridiculous and luxurious things. Just up the lake from the town of Como is the small town of Cernobbio, where George Clooney makes his home in Italy. Cernobbio also hosts, just about five minutes from Giorgio's villa, the world famous and, until now, famously exclusive Villa D'Este. With the sudden influx of cash, riding a high from a Juventus victory, and feeling incredibly chic with its new Italian eyewear, my book decided to forever deglamorize D'Este with its presence and see what all the fuss is about.
Here's a view of the lake from the room.

Inside, the Villa D'Este boasts a stunning art collection, featuring a sculpture of Eros and Psyche from the School of Canova. But the outside gardens are truly beathtaking, featuring beautiful walking paths and 16th century mosaic paths and walls and a "nympheum."

The Villa features indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and the outdoor one floats in the lake.

The Villa is actually composed of two buildings, linked by an underground corridor. There's the main building, the Cardinal's building, along with the trompe l'oeil Queen's Pavilion.

Lake Como's Villa D'Este shouldn't be confused with Tivoli's Villa D'Este, which features hundreds of fountains and is a cool destination also.
But this Villa D'Este has some pretty nifty fountains of its own.

And, of course, a lovely lakeside setting.

And amazing gardens.

And mosaic.

When you take a closer look at the intricate mosaic work, it becomes apparent why it's called the "nympheum". My book was very pleased to see so many examples of erotic on display.

After all the walking around the gardens, the pages of my book were getting pretty frayed so they decided to go relax in the room in luxury.

But for all the lushness of the gardens and plushness of the hotel, it is still, ultimately, the views of the lake that remain the most spectacular feature.

Now, this following portion of my travelogue should be read and viewed with the understanding that I am a fiction writer, and so therefore may have taken a couple of liberties with the facts here. I, maybe, played fast and loose with the truth, or, perhaps, it is even pushing the boundaries of a complete fabrication, aided and abetted by crappy Photoshop skills. Nevertheless.

As I mentioned before, George Clooney is a Lake Como inhabitant. While riding the ferry one day, I happened to pass by his villa, and my book lost its fucking mind and made a dash for it. It leapt overboard, and made a hasty swim toward the shores of Giorgio's beach. Perhaps, of course, if my book were telling you this tale, it might be tempted to imply that its mad dash toward Villa GoodLooking was, in fact, initiated by myself, with a rather forceful overhand throw, hurling it toward shore while I screamed "TI AMO DANNY OCEAN!"

Anyhow, while those details remain fuzzy, here's the kicker. Imagine my surprise, when, later that evening, I found myself in a charming local trattoria and as I glanced across the room I was amazed by the sight of Signor Sexy himself, showing off his latest find, telling Brad Pitt to back the fuck off, as Clooney himself was already claiming an option on the material. The scene may have resembled this:

Then again, that may have never happened. But let's just assume that it did happen and that I felt compelled to march up to ComoClooney and take back my book and inform him that, while I appreciated his interest, I definitely preferred to remain a struggling unknown writer, wallowing in obscurity, before bidding him Arrivaderla. And then my book and I moved along to Bellagio. I will subject you to those pictures soon enough.


Jo B said...

I am so glad you are back and blogging again.

What a great trip,and congrats with the book and all its adventures!

I love your photos. Lake Como is truly beautiful, it's one of my favourite places in Italy.

Don Capone said...

Thanks for posting these pics, and welcome home! Looks like your book had a great time! The casino looks a little out of place in that landscape. Whose idea was it to design a casino on Lake Lugano that looks like a prison and/or factory?

SusanD said...

Hiya Jo -- I so envy you guys who live across the pond, making the flights to these places so much shorter.

Don -- it IS the ugliest thing. I tell you, there's not much that Americans do definitively better than Italians, but casinos are one of them. Television is another one.

Luxury Tours ireland said...

I like the picture which you have selected for the cover of this book. I hope that you had a well enjoyed and always memorable tour of this beautiful destination.