This weekend, from Friday to Sunday, the NOW Festival, (a series of workshops, presentations, concerts and other varied events on the theme of a sustainable future) takes place in Villa Erba, Cernobbio. Many if not most of the events will be in Italian (as is their web site) but that will not hold back the committed or, for that matter, prevent appreciation of the music! Entrance for the daytime symposiums ranges from zero on Friday to €6 on Saturday and Sunday. The evening concerts on Saturday and Sunday cost €10 and €15 respectively. Check the website for details of the various events.
The NOW Festival is supported by the Province of Como and both Como and Cernobbio town councils. Their active involvement shows a heartening commitment at least to discussing aspects of a sustainable future – but what about actions for the present. What, for example, could be more ecologically sound than supporting bike sharing schemes as in Como and now also in Cernobbio? Is not this proof of a willingness to turn talk into action? Maybe, but unfortunately the good intention is betrayed by appalling execution.
Residents in Como may wonder why the Bike&Co bikes in Como are more often seen in their neat parked rows rather than on the open road. How can this be in a city with so many visitors in addition to residents needing to get about. After all most of our visitors have seen and often used bike sharing schemes in cities across Europe from Valencia to Vienna or Manchester to Marseilles. But when they hit Como, their initial enthusiasm on seeing that also we do bike sharing surely turns to disillusion when they attempt to access the service.
Why? Because a number of hurdles have to be overcome before you can unlock a bike from its stand. Firstly you need to subscribe to the service prior to accessing a bike. However this cannot be done by simply putting a credit card into a card reader as would suffice elsewhere in Europe.
But fortunately there is an Android or IOS app for smart phones. With luck you get sufficient bandwidth to download the app but then you note there is no English language variant (as there is for buses, trains and car-sharing in Como).
OK so you can figure out you need to register and that goes fine until you come across the field for ‘codice fiscale’. We residents know all about that, but a visitor on a one-day stopover? You ignore this strange request but unfortunately your attempt to register is blocked. No bike.
Then you note on the billboard and pamphlet that you can also subscribe by applying at Bike&Co’s offices on Via Volta, 45. You take a pleasant walk around the old centre and get to Via Volta 45 but the Bike&Co office has long since moved on.
Still not prepared to admit defeat, you walk back to one of the Tourist Info-points where the helpful staff tell you that the subscription can only be done in the newsagent’s at the S. Giovanni railway station. Maybe this is exactly where you arrived in Como two hours ago before you started out on this charade.
How might visitors react to such shortcomings? Possibly with a shrug and a patronising ‘How quaint’ or more likely with a colourful expletive and considerable irritation. But let’s not end on a negative note. Fortunately Como can offer more accessible ecological alternatives to car or taxi as reported on our Transport page (but note that I have not included bike sharing among them). As for the future, try out the NOW Festival this weekend in Villa Erba, Cernobbio. The daytime proceedings may mostly be in Italian but there are no language barriers to appreciating the intent and the commitment or, for that matter, to enjoying the evening entertainment.