Spring in Como is like Spring everywhere except that it is more so! As new natural life brings a chromatic change to the city’s surrounding hills, a new commercial life begins with the start of the tourist season. And thanks to the city’s Chamber of Commerce, that commercial life will be supported by a great new app and website for planning a stay on the lake, but more of that later.
The rebirth of nature and commerce comes together with the re-opening of the major gardens on the lake, namely Villa Carlotta on March 22nd, Villa Melzi on March 23rd and Villa Monastero which has actually been open from January. These are all up in that mid-lake triangular tourist hotspot between Tremezzo, Varenna and Bellagio.
A novelty this year is the opening to the public on a few occasions of the gardens to Villa Erba in Cernobbio, the childhood home of the Italian film director, Luchino Visconti. Garden lovers need to take note of the dates of these rare openings – from 22nd to 28th April and then on the 23rd and 24th July.
Also by now those hotels which close over the winter will have re-opened their doors. Some will have spent part of their closure in undertaking maintenance and refurbishment. At least once a year the cable car to Brunate must close for essential maintenance but the timing of its closure is never easy given the year-round need of residents and also the increase in winter tourists. Past years have seen closures in Spring as demand begins to increase but this year for once all the work started on 11th March was finished by the 23rd – one day ahead of schedule!
The Brunate cable car has opened just in time to host long weekend queues – another sure sign that Spring has arrived along with the acrobatic flight of swifts above the town and even more queues at the ticket office for the lake boats or outside the ice cream parlours. Much as I like Spring, I do not like queues so it was great to hear that the Navigazione Laghi will finally allow for the online purchase of tickets, possibly. The new online system is scheduled to be available for ‘tests’ from this April. So yet another bastion of technological reticence is looking towards a new start this year. As for the funicular, their tickets are not date stamped so purchase a few whenever you reach the ticket window and avoid the queue next time.
The influences of nature and interests of commerce also combine at this time of year in the local section of the covered market on Via Mentana. The covered market is a great resource for Como residents but also makes for a lively and interesting place for anyone to visit.
Local producers have one of the halls reserved just for them. The range of local produce on offer includes meat, lake fish, cheese, and honey as well as fruit and vegetables. However this year’s unseasonably dry Spring may reduce the quantity and quality of some of their products. The weather this year has been wonderfully sunny but that is not all good news. Local agriculture and farm production across the Pianura Padana is suffering. No corner of paradise, even Como, can remain entirely immune to global issues.
Spring is the season that brings new hope, new enthusiasms and new projects. The Villa Geno fountain was switched on again recently to vigorously project its jets of water in greeting to those arriving in Como by boat. The entry to Como is so much more beautiful by boat than car. This lakeside fountain and Daniel Libeskind’s sculpture ‘The Life Electric’ on the Diga Foranea Piero Caldirola are two virile symbols of the city’s energy.
That energy is mostly dedicated to the city’s pursuit of its commercial interests which of course, are not all based on tourism. Half of local income still derives from the long-established silk industry and the critical importance of its skills in textile design, silk printing and finishing. Many local companies as well as international exhibitors come to show their designs at the Comocrea Textile Design Shows held in Cernobbio’s Villa Erba.
The Spring edition of the Textile Design Show, held this year on March 25th and 26th, showcases textile designs for the 2020/21 Autumn and Winter collections. An autumn edition of the show has proposals for the following year’s Spring and Summer collections. A further textile show dedicated to home furnishings is held this year from 15th to 17th April and is also hosted at the Villa Erba. These trade shows stand testimony to the quality and importance of Como’s heritage in textile design.
Spring is also when many make new plans and arrange their visits in the future. For those of you planning a visit to Lake Como, the Chamber of Commerce has brought out a new official Internet site and an app for Iphone and Android to accompany it.
There are already a range of apps and sites describing Lake Como, including of course Como Companion, but this official version is truly comprehensive covering both legs of the lake. It is also well designed with a difference in the contents of the app and the Internet site so as to make best use of the different means of access. Use the Internet site for your initial research. It is great for getting an overview of what the area has to offer. Once focussed in on your preferred destination, use the app for some more precise planning or getting information when on site. The app is intelligently designed with mobility in mind for referencing different types of information, locating it on a map with multiple overlay options and providing a direct link via telephone contact. Since the Internet site and apps are sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, we can feel fairly confident they will ensure information is maintained and kept updated.
Although the official site and app contain an impressive range of reference material, it does not offer a calendar of events or full descriptions of local walks or stories of our local history and culture. For this there is no better resource than Como Companion. For example our calendar already has a listing for all of the events in both the Lake Como International Music Festival and the Como Citta della Musica Festival. We list all other music festival events as soon as they get published on the net. Look also at the list of Internet sites included on our Home page which contain information in English about Lake Como.
For those of us lucky to be here all year round, Spring means new timetables on the buses and lake boats, less polenta and other heavy winter dishes in the local restaurants (except for those in the mountains), more choice in eating out if living in one of the small lakeside communities, more musical and cultural events, more eating outdoors, green and not brown mountainsides, more flowers starting with camellias, then azaleas, honeysuckle and wisteria before summer brings oleander. So for the oleander, for swimming in the lake, and other outdoor pleasures, we must wait for the next season, Summer.