8:30PM | Sala Comacina | Italy
Morning espressos in the bar up the street. A quick stop in the market for bread, cheese, and prosciutto, and we’re off in our car up the coast. After a tricky u-turn (for more cheese) and several near misses on the tiny streets, we pass through Tremezzo and begin our climb. Endless switchbacks and ever-narrowing roads lead us high into the hills above the lake, as each turn provides improved views and more dramatic vertigo.
Our hike to the Rifugio Menaggio winds through dense forest, past stone houses, and across sprawling meadows. Gaining steadily in altitude, we pass tiny villages and flower-specked fields; the sun is bright and the breeze is cool. We break for lunch at the Rifugio, an off-the-grid cabin complete with a restaurant serving handmade pasta (of course), and beer and wine for sale. We acquire two Aranciata, and unwrap our lunch in the shade of a tree.
Our afternoon takes us further up the mountain, towards the summit of Monte Grona. Every 100 meters of elevation yields an additional impressive view and more terrifying dropoff. After an hour of climbing using chains, all four limbs, and the extent of our limited bravery, we reach the top. Our reward, a 360 degree panorama, is truly extraordinary. We (thankfully) find an easier route for descent, and beat the rain by minutes. After showers and splash of Barbera, we head to the local bar (equipped with soccer, spritz, and wifi) and then to dinner. Bellagio tomorrow.