Europe

Travel To Relax – Milan and Lake Como

Milan and Lake Como

HI, I'M RICK STEVES, BACK WITH MORE
OF THE BEST OF EUROPE. THIS TIME, WE'RE IN NORTH ITALY, ENJOYING THE LOFTY
AND INSPIRING HEIGHTS OF MILANO. THANKS FOR JOINING US. MANY TOURISTS COME TO ITALY
BECAUSE OF ITS PAST.

BUT MILANO IS TODAY'S ITALY, AND NO ITALIAN TRIP IS COMPLETE
WITHOUT VISITING THIS CITY. WHILE OVERLOOKED BY MANY, MILANO HAS PLENTY TO SEE
AND IS A JOY TO VISIT. IN MILANO,
WE'LL SOAR ON THE ROOFTOP. OF ONE OF EUROPE'S
GRANDEST GOTHIC CATHEDRALS, WINDOW-SHOP IN MILAN'S
FASHIONABLE NEIGHBORHOODS, VISIT THE WORLD'S
MOST FAMOUS OPERA HOUSE, AND ADMIRE
A LEONARDO MASTERPIECE.

BEFORE RELAXING. IN THE 19th-CENTURY CHARM
OF LAKE COMO. ITALY HOSTS MILLIONS
OF VISITORS EVERY YEAR, BUT MANY MISS
THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NORTH. IN THIS PROGRAM,
WE TOUR MILANO.

AND SIDE TRIP
INTO THE LAKE DISTRICT, EXPLORING MY FAVORITE —
LAKE COMO — SPECIFICALLY, THE TOWNS
OF VARENNA AND BELLAGIO. THEY SAY,
FOR EVERY CHURCH IN ROME, THERE'S A BANK IN MILAN. ITALY'S SECOND CITY, AND THE CAPITAL
OF THE REGION OF LOMBARDY, MILANO IS A HARDWORKING,
FASHION-CONSCIOUS, TIME-IS-MONEY CITY
OF NEARLY A MILLION AND A HALF. AND THE CITY IS.

A FASCINATING MELTING POT
OF PEOPLE AND HISTORY. ITALY RECENTLY SURPASSED BRITAIN
IN PER CAPITA INCOME, AND THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN BECAUSE
OF ITS CUTE RIVIERA PORTS. AND TUSCAN HILLTOWNS. THE ECONOMIC SUCCESS
OF MODERN ITALY.

IS DRIVEN BY THIS CITY. OF PUBLICISTS
AND PASTA POWER LUNCHES. MILAN IS ITALY'S INDUSTRIAL,
BANKING, PUBLISHING,
AND CONVENTION CAPITAL. AS IF MAKING UP FOR
ITS BLOCKY ARCHITECTURE, ITS PEOPLE ARE WORKS OF ART.

MILAN IS AN INTERNATIONAL
FASHION CENTER. WITH A REFINED TASTE. WINDOW DISPLAYS ARE GORGEOUS. YET, THANKFULLY, MILAN IS.

NO MORE EXPENSIVE FOR TOURISTS
THAN OTHER ITALIAN CITIES. THE IMPORTANCE OF MILANO
IS NOTHING NEW. THREE HUNDRED YEARS
BEFORE CHRIST, THE ROMANS CALLED THIS PLACE
MEDIOLANUM, OR "THE CENTRAL PLACE." BY THE 4th CENTURY A.D.,
IT WAS THE CAPITAL. OF THE WESTERN HALF
OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE.

IT WAS FROM HERE
THAT EMPEROR CONSTANTINE. ISSUED THE EDICT OF MILAN, WHICH LEGALIZED CHRISTIANITY
IN THE YEAR 313. AFTER STRUGGLING THROUGH
THE EARLY MIDDLE AGES, MILAN ROSE TO PROMINENCE. UNDER THE POWERFUL VISCONTI
AND SFORZA FAMILIES.

BY THE TIME OF THE RENAISSANCE, THE CITY WAS CALLED
"THE NEW ATHENS" AND WAS ENOUGH OF
A CULTURAL CENTER. FOR LEONARDO DA VINCI
TO CALL HOME. AND THEN CAME FOUR CENTURIES
OF FOREIGN DOMINATION — SPAIN, AUSTRIA, FRANCE,
AND MORE AUSTRIA. IN THE 19th CENTURY, MILANO BECAME
A CENTER OF REVOLUTION.

AGAINST AUSTRIAN RULE, AND THEN IT HELPED SPEARHEAD
THE MOVEMENT. FOR ITALIAN INDEPENDENCE
AND UNIFICATION. IN THE 20th CENTURY,
MUSSOLINI LEFT. A HEAVY FASCIST TOUCH
ON MILAN'S ARCHITECTURE.

IL DUCE HIMSELF. MADE GRANDIOSE SPEECHES
FROM THESE BALCONIES. AND MILAN'S IMMENSE
TRAIN STATION THUNDERS FASCISM. EVERY TIME I PASS THROUGH,
I IMAGINE THE RUSH.

THE FASCISTS MUST HAVE FELT
ON THE DAY IN 1931 WHEN THE GRAND RENOVATIONS
OF THIS STATION WERE UNVEILED. IT'S DESIGNED
TO MAKE YOU FEEL SMALL, TOO SMALL
TO QUESTION MUSSOLINI. AND HIS GOVERNMENT'S
RIGHT WING AGENDA. MUSSOLINI'S EXCESSES LED.

TO THE BOMBING OF MILAN
IN WORLD WAR II. BUT MILAN ROSE AGAIN. THE 1959 PIRELLI TOWER
WAS A TRENDSETTER. TODAY, MILAN IS DYNAMIC
AND A COMMERCIAL POWERHOUSE.

THE CITY'S CENTERPIECE IS. ITS MAGNIFICENT DUOMO,
OR CATHEDRAL — THE FOURTH-LARGEST IN EUROPE. BACK IN THE 14th CENTURY,
WHEN EUROPE WAS FRAGMENTED. INTO COUNTLESS
LITTLE INDEPENDENT STATES, THE DUKES OF MILAN
WANTED TO IMPRESS.

THEIR GERMAN AND FRENCH
COUNTERPARTS. TO EARN THEIR RESPECT,
THEY BUILT THIS HUGE. AND RICHLY ORNAMENTED
CATHEDRAL. EVEN THOUGH
THE RENAISSANCE STYLE, WITH ITS DOMES
AND ROUNDED ARCHES, WAS IN VOGUE ELSEWHERE
IN ITALY, CONSERVATIVE MILANO
STUCK WITH THE GOTHIC STYLE.

THE DUKES, THINKING NORTHERNERS
COULD RELATE BETTER TO GOTHIC, LOADED IT WITH POINTED SPIRES
AND ARCHES. AND EVERYTHING'S MADE OF MARBLE. THE STATUES ON THE TIPS
OF THE MANY SPIRES. SEEM SO RELAXED, LIKE THEY'RE JUST HANGING OUT,
WAITING FOR THEIR BIG DAY.

THE FANCIFUL GARGOYLES,
FUNCTIONING AS DRAIN SPOUTS, ARE ESPECIALLY IMAGINATIVE. THE CHURCH IS A GOOD EXAMPLE
OF THE FLAMBOYANT, OR "FLAMELIKE,"
OVERDONE FINAL STAGE OF GOTHIC. STEP INSIDE, AND YOU'RE STRUCK
BY THE IMMENSITY OF THE PLACE. THE SOARING CEILING IS SUPPORTED
BY SEQUOIA-SIZED PILLARS.

STARTED IN 1386
AND NOT FINISHED UNTIL 1810, THIS CONSTRUCTION PROJECT
ORIGINATED THE PHRASE. ITALIANS USE TO SAY
NEVER-ENDING — "LIKE BUILDING A CATHEDRAL." MUCH OF THE BRILLIANTLY
COLORED STAINED GLASS. DATES FROM ABOUT 1500. SO DOES THE FINE
INLAID MARBLE FLOOR.

AFTER 500 YEARS OF WEAR,
YOU CAN TELL THAT. THE BLACK MARBLE
IS HARDER THAN THE REST. A GROTESQUE 16th-CENTURY
STATUE OF ST. BARTOLOMEO, A MARTYR SKINNED ALIVE
BY THE ROMANS, WEARS HIS SKIN LIKE A ROBE.

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YOU CAN ACTUALLY SEE HIS LIMP
FEET AND DANGLING FACE. IT WAS SCULPTED
BY A STUDENT OF LEONARDO, WHO OBVIOUSLY PICKED UP. HIS MASTER'S
PASSION FOR THE HUMAN ANATOMY. CAP YOUR VISIT
WITH A TRIP TO THE ROOFTOP.

WALKING THROUGH ITS FOREST
OF PINNACLES AND STATUES, YOU ENJOY GREAT VIEWS
OF THE CHURCH'S STATUARY, AS WELL AS OF THE CITY. AND, CROWNING THE CATHEDRAL, A GOLDEN VIRGIN MARY
OVERLOOKS EVERYTHING. "LA MADONNINA," AS SHE'S
AFFECTIONATELY CALLED, IS AN ICON OF MILANO. MILAN'S MAIN SQUARE IS
A CLASSIC EUROPEAN SCENE.

AND A POPULAR
LOCAL GATHERING POINT. THE STATUE FEATURES
VICTOR EMMANUEL II, FIRST KING OF ITALY. HE'S LOOKING
AT THE GRAND GALLERY. NAMED FOR HIM.

THE WORDS ABOVE THE TRIUMPHAL
ARCH ENTRANCE READ — "TO VICTOR EMMANUEL II,
FROM THE PEOPLE OF MILAN." THE GALLERIA VITTORIO EMANUELE
IS THE PRIDE OF THE CITY. BUILT DURING THE HEADY DAYS
OF ITALIAN UNIFICATION, AROUND 1870, IT WAS THE FIRST
BUILDING IN TOWN. TO HAVE ELECTRIC LIGHTING. ITS ART CELEBRATES
THE ESTABLISHMENT OF ITALY.

AS AN INDEPENDENT COUNTRY. AROUND THE CENTRAL DOME, MOSAICS SYMBOLIZE
THE FOUR MAJOR CONTINENTS. THE MOSAIC FLOOR
IS ALSO PATRIOTIC. THE SHE-WOLF
WITH ROMULUS AND REMUS.

HONORS ROME,
THE NATIONAL CAPITAL. A FAVORITE IS THE TORINO,
OR "LITTLE BULL." WHILE IT REPRESENTS
THE CITY OF TORINO, FOR LOCALS,
IT'S A SOURCE OF GOOD LUCK. THEY CAN'T RESIST STEPPING
ON HIS LITTLE TESTICLES. LOCALS CLAIM IT WORKS BETTER
IF YOU GIVE IT A SPIN.

MILAN'S IMMENSE SFORZA CASTLE
TELLS THE STORY. OF THE CITY IN BRICK. IT GUARDED THE GATE
TO THE CITY WALL. AND DEFENDED THE RULING FAMILY.

FROM THREATS
BOTH FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC. IN THE 1500s, THE ENTIRE CITY WAS CIRCLED
BY STATE-OF-THE-ART WALLS, OF WHICH THIS CASTLE
WAS A KEY ELEMENT. IT'S APPARENT FROM THE ENORMITY
OF THIS FORTIFICATION. THAT MILANO WAS
A STRATEGIC PRIZE.

WHILE THE TOWN WALLS
ARE LONG GONE, THIS MASSIVE CASTLE SURVIVES,
LEAVING THE CITY. WITH AN INVITING AND WELL-USED
PUBLIC SPACE. LOCALS AND TOURISTS ALIKE. ENJOY STROLLING
ITS EXPANSIVE GROUNDS.

A SHORT TRAM RIDE
TAKES YOU TO A DIFFERENT KIND. OF PUBLIC PLACE — MILAN'S MONUMENTAL CEMETERY. WHILE THERE ARE MANY
EVOCATIVE CEMETERIES IN EUROPE, THIS ONE —
WITH ITS EMOTIONAL PORTRAYALS. OF THE DEPARTED
AND THEIR HEAVENLY ESCORTS — IN THE MELODRAMATIC ART STYLES.

FROM THE LATE 19th
AND EARLY 20th CENTURIES — IS IN A CLASS BY ITSELF. IT'S A VAST GARDEN ART GALLERY. OF PROUD BUSTS
AND GRIM REAPERS, HEARTBROKEN ANGELS
AND WEEPING WIDOWS. SOLDIERS TOO YOUNG TO DIE.

ACRES OF GRIEF, HOPE, AND MEMORIES. THE GRAND,
PEDESTRIANIZED VIA DANTE. LEADS FROM THE SFORZA CASTLE. TOWARD THE TOWN CENTER
AND THE CATHEDRAL.

IT WAS CARVED OUT OF A MEDIEVAL
TANGLE OF STREETS. TO CELEBRATE ITALIAN
UNIFICATION. BECAUSE OF THAT,
THE FACADES LINING IT. ARE RELATIVELY NEW —
DATING FROM THE LATE 1800s.

OVER THE VIGOROUS COMPLAINTS
OF MERCHANTS, THE STREET BECAME
TRAFFIC-FREE IN 1995. TODAY, THOSE MERCHANTS
WOULD HAVE IT NO OTHER WAY. FASHIONISTAS LOVE MILAN'S
WORLD-CLASS SHOPPING ZONE, A NEIGHBORHOOD CALLED
THE QUADRILATERAL. THIS ELEGANT
HIGH-FASHION DISTRICT.

WAS THE ORIGINAL
BEVERLY HILLS OF MILAN. OVERSEEING THE SHOPPING ACTION
ARE THE EXCLUSIVE. AND ELUSIVE
PENTHOUSE APARTMENTS. WITH THEIR PLUSH ROOF GARDENS.

SINCE THE 1920s, THIS HAS BEEN THE PLACE
FOR DESIGNER LABELS. IN THIS SCENE,
THE PEOPLE-WATCHING. IS AS ENTERTAINING
AS THE WINDOW-SHOPPING. FOR EDIBLE FASHION, CHECK OUT ONE OF MILAN'S
GOURMET DELIS LIKE PECK.

IF EVER YOU WANTED
TO HAVE A PICNIC MEAL. AND NOT SAVE MONEY,
BUY IT HERE. EVERYTHING'S IMPECCABLE,
FROM THE STAFF. TO THE LAVISH DISPLAYS.

THE BUSY KITCHEN IS LIKE
A GOURMET ASSEMBLY LINE. POSH MARKETS LIKE THIS
SERVE FINE FOOD. TO BOTH MILAN'S
BUSY PROFESSIONALS. AND ITS WELL-TO-DO.

AND IF YOU'RE SPENDING
HALF YOUR BUDGET ON A PICNIC, YOU MIGHT AS WELL RIDE
THE ELEVATOR INTO THE CELLAR. FOR A BOTTLE OF WINE TO MATCH. CATERING TO PEOPLE
WITH GOOD TASTE. AND MORE MONEY THAN TIME, PLACES LIKE THIS PUT
AN ELEGANT TWIST ON FAST FOOD.

500 YEARS AGO,
LEONARDO DA VINCI CONTRIBUTED. TO THE CITY'S REPUTATION
FOR DESIGN AND AESTHETICS. IN FACT, LEONARDO'S IDENTIFIED
WITH MILAN. MORE THAN ANY OTHER
ITALIAN CITY.

THIS IS WHERE HE SPENT SOME OF
HIS MOST PRODUCTIVE YEARS, ENJOYING THE GENEROUS PATRONAGE
OF THE SFORZA FAMILY. LEONARDO WAS THE EPITOME
OF A RENAISSANCE GENIUS. THAT MEANS HE WAS
WELL-ROUNDED — HE WAS A PAINTER
AND SCULPTOR. HE WAS ALSO A MUSICIAN,
SCIENTIST, ENGINEER, ARCHITECT — YOU NAME IT.

HE DID EVERYTHING,
AND HE DID IT WELL. THIS STATUE CELEBRATES
THE MANY WAYS. LEONARDO CONTRIBUTED
TO THE CITY OF MILAN. DURING THE YEARS
HE LIVED HERE.

THE RELIEFS RECALL LEONARDO'S
VARIED PROFESSIONAL TRIUMPHS. LEONARDO, WEARING
HIS HYDROENGINEER HAT HERE, RE-ENGINEERED MILAN'S CANAL
SYSTEM, COMPLETE WITH LOCKS. UNTIL THE 1920s, MILAN WAS ONE OF ITALY'S
MAJOR PORTS, WITH CANALS CONNECTING THE CITY
TO THE PO RIVER. AND TO THE MEDITERRANEAN
BEYOND.

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AND LEONARDO DESIGNED. THE LARGEST EQUESTRIAN
MONUMENT IN THE WORLD, AGAIN,
FOR THE SFORZA FAMILY. THOUGH THE ORIGINAL
WAS DESTROYED IN 1499 BY INVADING FRENCH TROOPS
WHO USED IT FOR TARGET PRACTICE, THE GIANT HORSE
WAS REBUILT IN 1999 BY THE AMERICAN ARTIST
CHARLES DENT, FROM LEONARDO'S DRAWINGS. ONE OF LEONARDO'S
GREATEST MASTERPIECES.

DECORATES THE MONKS'
DINING HALL. ADJACENT THE CHURCH OF
SANTA MARIA DELLE GRAZIE. ADMISSION TO THE<i>LAST SUPPER
</i> IS BY RESERVATION ONLY, AND SPOTS CAN BE BOOKED UP
WELL OVER A MONTH IN ADVANCE. GOOD GUIDEBOOKS
EXPLAIN THE PROCESS.

BECAUSE OF THE FRAGILITY. OF THIS MUCH-LOVED
RENAISSANCE MASTERPIECE, THE HUMIDITY
IS CAREFULLY REGULATED. WE'RE ENJOYING A PRIVATE VISIT
WITH OUR TV CAMERA. BUT NORMALLY, GROUPS OF 25
ARE ALLOWED IN.

EVERY 15 MINUTES, ONLY AFTER DEHUMIDIFYING
IN THIS WAITING CHAMBER. SEEING THE LAST SUPPER, ONE OF THE GREATEST WORKS
IN ART HISTORY, IS WELL WORTH THE HASSLE. LEONARDO PORTRAYS
THE LAST DINNER. JESUS HAD WITH HIS DISCIPLES
BEFORE HE WAS CRUCIFIED.

THE COMPOSITION IS DREAMY. LEONARDO CAPTURES
THE PSYCHOLOGICAL DRAMA. AS JESUS SAYS,
"ONE OF YOU WILL BETRAY ME," AND THE APOSTLES, HUDDLING IN
STRESSED-OUT GROUPS OF THREE, WONDER, "LORD, IS IT I?" SOME ARE SCANDALIZED, OTHERS WANT MORE INFORMATION. IN THIS AGITATED ATMOSPHERE, ONLY JUDAS, CLUTCHING
HIS 30 PIECES OF SILVER, IS NOT SHOCKED.

LEONARDO EMPLOYS HIS
UNDERSTANDING OF PERSPECTIVE. TO GIVE THE FRESCO ADDED PUNCH. THE BUILDING'S
LINES OF PERSPECTIVE. CONVERGE RIGHT ON CHRIST.

THE VIEWER DOESN'T UNDERSTAND
THE MATHEMATICS, BUT SUBCONSCIOUSLY, IT'S CLEAR TO ANYONE
ENJOYING THIS MASTERPIECE. THAT JESUS IS THE POWERFUL
CENTER OF IT ALL. BECAUSE OF LEONARDO'S
EXPERIMENTAL FRESCO TECHNIQUE, DETERIORATION BEGAN WITHIN
SIX YEARS OF ITS COMPLETION. THE CHURCH WAS BOMBED
IN WORLD WAR II, BUT — MIRACULOUSLY,
IT SEEMED — THE WALL.

HOLDING THE LAST SUPPER
REMAINED STANDING. A RECENT RESTORATION PEELED AWAY
500 YEARS OF TOUCH-UPS, LEAVING A FAINT YET VIBRANT
MASTERPIECE. THE ROOM DEPICTED
IN THE PAINTING. SEEMS LIKE AN ARCHITECTURAL
EXTENSION OF THE ACTUAL ROOM.

LEONARDO EVEN PAINTED. AS IF THE LIGHT
FROM THE REAL WINDOWS. HIT THE FRESCO
FROM THE SIDE. JESUS ANTICIPATES
HIS SACRIFICE — HIS FACE IS SAD, ALL-KNOWING,
AND ACCEPTING.

LIKE ANY BIG EUROPEAN CITY, MILANO'S PUBLIC TRANSIT
IS FIRST CLASS, BUT ONLY IF YOU USE IT. TRAMS SCREECH
AND GLIDE EVERYWHERE. THE OLD AND NEW
SHARE THE WELL-WORN TRACKS. THE MODERN UNDERGROUND.

MAKES THIS SPRAWLING CITY
MUCH EASIER TO MANAGE. WHILE MOST OF THE SIGHTS
ARE WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE, YOUR DAY GOES EASIER, ESPECIALLY
IN THE HEAT OF THE SUMMER, WHEN YOU USE THE METRO. MILAN IS HOME. TO POSSIBLY THE WORLD'S
MOST PRESTIGIOUS OPERA HOUSE — LA SCALA.

WHILE TICKETS ARE PRICEY
AND TOUGH TO GET, ANYONE CAN VISIT THE MUSEUM, WHICH COMES WITH A PEEK
AT THE PLUSH THEATER, OFTEN GETTING SET UP
FOR THE NEXT PERFORMANCE. SINCE IT OPENED IN 1778, LA SCALA HAS BEEN COMMITTED
TO HOSTING. THE GRANDEST OF OPERAS
IN ALL THEIR INTENDED GLORY. [ MAN SINGING ARIA ] THE LA SCALA MUSEUM COLLECTION
FEATURES THINGS.

THAT MEAN ABSOLUTELY NOTHING
TO THE MTV CROWD — TOSCANINI'S EYEGLASSES, WELL-WORN BATONS, CARUSO'S BUST, ORIGINAL SCORES, AND MUCH MORE. THE HALLS ARE ALIVE
WITH MEMORIES. OF THE GREAT COMPOSERS
AND MUSICIANS THAT MADE THIS. THE ULTIMATE OPERA SCENE.

FOR OVER TWO CENTURIES,
MILAN'S GLITTERATI. HAS ENJOYED
BREATHTAKING PERFORMANCES. BY THE BIGGEST NAMES
IN OPERA, FROM MARIA CALLAS. ALL THE WAY BACK TO VERDI.

GIUSEPPE VERDI WAS
THE GREATEST. OF THE ROMANTIC
ITALIAN OPERA COMPOSERS. AND IN THE 19th CENTURY, HIS NAME MEANT
MORE THAN MUSIC. HE WAS A CHAMPION OF THE ITALIAN
UNIFICATION MOVEMENT.

BACK WHEN FLYING
AN ITALIAN FLAG. COULD GET YOU IN TROUBLE, VERDI'S ARIAS SERVED
AS VIRTUAL NATIONAL ANTHEMS. THE NEARBY RISORGIMENTO MUSEUM. TELLS THE STORY
OF ITALY'S UNIFICATION.

IT HELPS US IMAGINE
THE EXCITEMENT IN EUROPE. DURING THE MID-1800s AS THE MODERN NATIONS
OF ITALY, GERMANY, AND OTHERS
WERE BEING BORN. BACK THEN,
A FEW ROYAL FAMILIES — SUCH AS THE HABSBURGS,
BOURBONS, AND ROMANOVS — RULED EUROPE
WITHOUT REGARD TO NATIONALITY. AND NONE OF THEM WANTED TO SEE.

THE EMERGENCE
OF MODERN NATION STATES. EVEN WITHOUT REALLY
UNDERSTANDING THE DETAILS, JUST PONDERING
THE STIRRING PAINTINGS HERE. MAKES IT CLEAR
THERE ARE ITALIAN EQUIVALENTS. TO OUR BATTLES OF BUNKER HILL,
VALLEY FORGE, AND YORKTOWN.

AFTER FOUR CENTURIES
OF FOREIGN RULE, MILAN HELPED SPEARHEAD
ITALY'S ROAD TO UNITY. STEP BY STEP —
WHETHER IN ****** BATTLE. OR BY POPULAR VOTE,
AS WAS THE CASE IN VENICE — ITALY WENT FROM
A PENINSULA OF COLONIES. AND SMALL STATES IN 1850 TO ONE UNITED COUNTRY IN 1870.

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ITALY'S HEROIC STRUGGLES
WERE LED BY PATRIOTS. WHOSE NAMES
ARE HOUSEHOLD WORDS TODAY. MAZZINI — THE INTELLECTUAL
WHO SPREAD THE NOTION THAT. ITALIAN-SPEAKING PEOPLE
SHOULD BE ONE NATION.

GARIBALDI —
THE GUERILLA WAR HERO. WHOSE FEISTY LITTLE ARMY
OF RED SHIRTS. BROUGHT SICILY
AND SOUTHERN ITALY. INTO THE FOLD.

AND VICTOR EMMANUEL —
THE ONLY ITALIAN BLOODED KING, WHO, UPON UNIFICATION,
WAS THE SLAM-DUNK FAVORITE. TO BE THE FIRST CONSTITUTIONAL
MONARCH OF THE NEW ITALY. THROUGHOUT ITALY, THE GEORGE WASHINGTONS
AND THOMAS JEFFERSONS. OF THE ITALIAN INDEPENDENCE
MOVEMENT ARE CELEBRATED.

STATUES, STREETS, AND SQUARES
ARE NAMED IN HONOR OF. THE FOUNDING FATHERS
OF MODERN ITALY. BUT TO BE HONEST,
MOST MILANESE. SEEM OBLIVIOUS
TO ALL THIS HISTORY.

THEY JUST ENJOY BEING
WHO THEY ARE. THE SPECIAL ITALIAN LOVE
OF LIFE. IS EASY TO FEEL
IN MILAN'S MANY FINE PARKS, AND IN A SCENE LIKE THIS, THE TRAVELER CAN GLIMPSE YET
ANOTHER DIMENSION. OF THIS CITY,
ITS PEOPLE AT PLAY.

ANOTHER FAVORITE PLACE
FOR THE MILANESE. IS AN HOUR AWAY BY TRAIN. LOMBARDY'S SEDUCTIVELY BEAUTIFUL
LAKES DISTRICT, WHERE ITALY MEETS THE ALPS, SEEMS HEAVEN-SENT
FOR COMMUNING WITH NATURE. IN THIS LAND
OF SO MANY POPULAR LAKES, THE MILLION-EURO QUESTION IS —
WHICH ONE? WHILE ALL THE LAKES
HAVE THEIR CHARMS, LAKE COMO IS MY FAVORITE.

IT OFFERS THE BEST MIX
OF ACCESSIBILITY, SCENERY,
AND OFFBEAT-NESS. WITH A HEADY WHIFF OF
ARISTOCRATIC-OLD-DAYS ROMANCE. LAKE COMO IS LINED WITH ELEGANT
19th-CENTURY VILLAS, CROWNED BY
SNOWCAPPED MOUNTAINS. AND BUSY WITH FLEETS
OF LITTLE FERRIES.

IT'S A GOOD PLACE
TO TAKE A BREAK. FROM THE INTENSITY OF
URBAN TURNSTILE SIGHTSEEING. IT SEEMS HALF THE TRAVELERS
YOU'LL MEET. HAVE TOSSED THEIR ITINERARIES
INTO THE LAKE.

AND ARE ACTUALLY RELAXING. TODAY THE HAZY, LAZY LAKE'S
ONLY SERIOUS INDUSTRY. IS TOURISM. LAKE COMO'S ISOLATION
AND FLAT ECONOMY.

HAVE LEFT IT PRETTY MUCH
THE WAY. 19Th-CENTURY ROMANTIC POETS
FIRST DESCRIBED IT. BELLAGIO, THE SELF-PROCLAIMED
"PEARL OF THE LAKE," IS A CLASSY COMBINATION. OF OLD-WORLD ELEGANCE
AND NEW WORLD LUXURY.

SPENDY FIVE-STAR HOTELS
GIVE THE WELL HEELED TRAVELER. ALL THE COMFORTS
THEY'RE ACCUSTOMED TO. HARBORFRONT SHOPS
ENTICE POSH TRAVELERS. WITH JEWELRY AND ACCESSORIES.

THE HEAVY CURTAINS
BETWEEN THE ARCADES. KEEP THE VISITORS AND
THEIR POODLES FROM SWEATING. THE STEEP LANES
RISING FROM THE HARBOR FRONT. LEAD TO A TANGLE
OF SUN-SPLASHED SQUARES.

PART OF THE FUN
OF YOUR LAKE VISIT. IS TOWN-HOPPING
ON THE FERRIES. FOR ME, THE IDEAL HOME BASE
FOR LAGO DI COMO. IS 15 MINUTES
FROM BELLAGIO — VARENNA.

THIS TOWN OF 800 PEOPLE OFFERS
THE BEST OF ALL LAKE WORLDS. EASILY ACCESSIBLE
BY TRAIN FROM MILAN, YET ON THE LESS-DEVELOPED SIDE
OF THE LAKE, VARENNA HAS
A ROMANTIC PROMENADE… A TINY HARBOR… AND NARROW LANES.

THESE BUILDINGS
ARE STRINGENTLY PROTECTED. YOU CAN'T EVEN CHANGE
THE COLOR OF YOUR HOME. WITHOUT ASKING PERMISSION. THERE ARE NO STREETS
IN THE OLD TOWN, JUST CHARACTERISTIC
STEPPED LANES.

IT'S AN IDEAL PLACE TO SAVOR. A LAKESIDE CAPPUCCINO
OR APERITIVO. IMAGINE THIS SLEEPY HARBOR
200 YEARS AGO. IT WAS BUSY.

THERE WERE COOPERS CRAFTING
OAKEN CHESTNUT INTO BARRELS, STONEWORKERS
CARVING AND SHIPPING. VARENNA'S PRIZED BLACK MARBLE, AND FISHING BOATS DRAGGED UP
ONTO THIS COBBLED BEACH. MANY LAKE COMO TOWNS
HAVE A VILLA OR TWO, WITH THEIR DILAPIDATED
19th-CENTURY ELEGANCE. AND WISTFUL GARDENS OPEN
TO THE PUBLIC, AND EVEN TRANSFORMED
INTO INVITING HOTELS.

IN VARENNA, THE SPRAWLING
LAKESIDE VILLA CIPRESSI. RENTS ROOMS AND WELCOMES
VISITORS — FOR A SMALL FEE — TO EXPLORE ITS PEACEFUL
TERRACED GARDEN. ALBERGO MILANO,
LOCATED RIGHT IN THE OLD TOWN, IS THE KIND OF PLACE I LIKE
TO RECOMMEND IN MY GUIDEBOOKS. IT'S GRACIOUSLY RUN BY EGIDIO.

AND HIS SWISS WIFE, BETTINA. FUSING THE BEST OF ITALY
WITH THE BEST OF SWITZERLAND, THE PLACE MANAGES TO BE BOTH
ROMANTIC AND VERY WELL-RUN. MOST OF ITS COMFY ROOMS
OFFER DREAMY LAKE VIEWS. AND EGIDIO IS A FINE CHEF.

THE LIMITED MENU CHANGES DAILY, ACCORDING TO THE SEASON
AND THE CHEF'S WHIM. VARENNA WHISPERS<i>LUNA DI
MIELE, </i> "HONEYMOON." AND A GOOD PLACE
TO ENJOY THAT ROMANCE IS. STROLLING ALONG
ITS PASSERELLA. YOU'LL PASS
WISTERIA-DRENCHED VILLAS, EVOCATIVE VISTAS, AND LAKESIDE LOVERS
EMBRACING THE MOMENT.

IT'S PLACES LIKE THIS. WHERE I REALLY FEEL
THE ROMANCE OF EUROPE. I HOPE YOU'VE ENJOYED OUR LOOK
AT MILANO AND LAGO DI COMO. I'M RICK STEVES.

UNTIL NEXT TIME,
KEEP ON TRAVELING. <I>CIAO.</I>.

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