It rained for about half an hour yesterday morning as we set out, but rain is a lot more tolerable after many days of sun than, for instance, the first three weeks of a pilgrimage without a break day after day. We wound our way up and down through chestnut forest again for a few kilometers until we came to a bike path along the shore. It seemed faster and easier (will we never learn?) so we went for it.
That was a good idea, for awhile. We got an up-close view of Lake Como and its sleepy swans and busy coots and ducks from the relative safety of a sidewalk. The problem is that when the town of Gera Lario ended, so did the sidewalks. Vercana apparently doesn’t believe in them nor the first half of Domaso. So it was another one of those hair-raising, nerve-wracking plunges along barely-there shoulder, hugging the guardrails when the cars shot past, running full force down the road with backpack bobbling during a stretch with no cars at all, and once hopping down into a momentarily inactive construction site because it seemed safer. We are really, really looking forward to picking up the Via Francigena on the far side of Milan and being done for good with stitching together other trails interspersed with deadly bits of road.
In Domaso we caught the hydrofoil boat to the town of Como at the south tip of the lake, as planned this time. Even in the 16th century pilgrims took the boat, as the slopes around Lake Como are extremely steep often with no shore at all. We could find no evidence of a hiking path at all and the road (if we hadn’t already known better) sports at least a dozen tunnels if not more, where the fumes would kill us even if the traffic didn’t.
Como itself is the ancient seat of a bishopric with an impressive though not too big duomo. Right next door is the old city hall; in the Middle Ages the top of the tower was lopped off to help in the building of the cathedral, though we’re not sure if that was to donate its marble or to demonstrate the primacy of church over state. One of the old city gates remains too (apparently the Spanish armies dismantled the rest in 1527).
Today we’ll walk as far as we can get toward Milan, and we already have a place to stay: a camper van currently headed south from Strasbourg with Andrew’s parents and our little son. We can hardly wait to have their company for the rest of the trip!