Coronavirus in Lake Como, Italy, Villa Ponti Bellavista Part 3

by Barbara Biggs | May 4, 2020 | Coronavirus, Garden, Travel | 2 comments

4 May 1221 new cases and 195 new deaths

Excellent figures to begin relaxing of the lockdown.

I left home at 8.15 after finishing my Wim Hof breathing and immersing myself in the freezing cold water of the small balance pool. No time for yoga this morning. But I did take these two lovely photos of sunrise over the Lecco arm of Lake Como the day our lives began again.

Irises kissing the morning sunrise on the day of our Liberation


Our apt breakfast, lunch and dinner spot with the sunrise on the day we are set free – kind of….

Driving towards the airport, first to Canzo, the first thing I notice are the cyclists on the road. Normally during the season this road is full of cyclists training for events. Now, on the 15 minutes drive to Canzo, I see a dozen or so. One or two wearing masks, but mostly not. At the petrol station I fill up – the attendant is wearing a mask. I stop at the bakery for a focaccia and the Latteria Locatelli where we buy wine and fresh ravioli, where all the shoppers and attendants are wearing masks.

Before I enter the deli, I see a sign which says Alcool e guanti sono finit. Alcohol and gloves are finished. Because I came for my favorite wine, Ciu’ Ciu’, I think I won’t bother and say when they invite me to enter (because only two can be in the shop at the same time) ‘ah, but you have no wine?’ They say yes, yes, we have wine. But I point to the sign on the door ‘it says you have no alcohol’. Everyone behind the counter (four of them) roar with laughter. ‘Alcool is something you clean surfaces with.’ they explain.

I recall in France about 15 years ago when I wrote my book about renovating a Paris apartment, The Accidental Renovator: A Paris Story (if you’re interested 🙂 a journalist told me how he’d just sub-edited a story about France nominating wine not as an alcoholic beverage, but as a food, and would therefore be taxed as such. His headline read “If wine is a food, what is a hangover?”

Italy too considers wine a food. The idea that it is alcohol is an abundant cause for merriment in this local deli where the owners wine cave is his pride and passion.

I have brought along my Brompton folding bike and large front pannier to avoid going to Malpensa airport railway station. I plan to ride to the next station along, Ferno. So I put my produce in the bag and head off to a nursery on the way to the airport to choose a fig tree to plant. Our gardener will bring it and the other herbs and various vegetable garden seedlings back with him next time he comes. But I can’t help putting various vegetable seedlings, five trays, on top of my shopping in the Brompton bag. By now it’s very heavy.

I’m amazed that the roads are thick with cars. Much more than usual. Although I’m rarely on the roads this early in the morning. but certainly there are a lot of people either returning to work, visiting relatives, shopping, or just driving around without one of these reasons, which is illegal!

The spring countryside is more beautiful for not having seen it coming on slowly, except at the villa. Chestnut trees are flowing everywhere, fresh new wheat is growing (at least I think it’s wheat!), and the lime green with light bouncing off it, as you only see in spring, is dancing in the wind everywhere you look.

I return the car to a place near the airport. Everyone here are also wearing masks. I ride to Ferno station, about 5kms away. As per the new regulations, you’re now allowed out to walk the dog or….just walk, even if it’s not close to your home. And there are people taking advantage of this on every street in this little town of Ferno. The meadows surrounded by flowering trees are mesmerizing for me, the little Australian who comes from one of the driest continents on earth.

There’s nobody at the station. No ticket seller, no passengers and the ticket machine isn’t working. Not even the platform lifts are working. With my heavy bag of wine food and plants, I don’t want to carry them to the deep depths of the station, only to have to carry the all back up again. So I ride around the station and find a cafe with cleaning staff who assure me trains in fact are stopping here.

A kind Nigerian man now waiting upstairs, carries my bag down to the platform for me and assures me the train is indeed going to Bovisa, a station of Milan but less crowded than Milano Centrale. From here I can take a train to Canzo, 15 minutes drive from the villa.

There are only three people on Ferno station, myself, the Nigerian man and a woman. All of us are wearing masks. At Bovisa, there are quite a few people, but much less than usual. Everyone is wearing mask but not gloves. There are no police around. I just miss a train and wait for an hour here before taking the one hour journey to Canzo. Here nobody knows what time the bus is coming. One woman, who arrived by bus to Canzo earlier in the morning, said nobody knows the bus timetable. It’s certainly different to what I saw on the app. Everywhere driving to the airport, this now explains why there were many people waiting at bus stops (wearing masks). You just have to wait until one turns up. She also explains that because there’s nowhere to buy a ticket open, all public transport during this period is free.

When I finally arrive home, my little vegetable seedlings are very battered and bruised. I plant some and water them in, leaving the rest to recover sufficiently before planting them in the morning.

Gardening, they say, is a patient person’s passtime. I’m not patient. I’d have to be the most impatient person in the world. So to make up for plants not growing fast enough, I just buy more and take daily pleasure in planting more and more vegetable varieties. I now have strawberries, watermelon, many herbs, tomatoes, broccoli, eggplants, carrot, celery, onions, peppers, chilli, parsley and I’m about to plant my sprouted potatoes. The fig tree might arrive tomorrow!!! Yay!!!

Coronavirus in Lake Como, Italy, Villa Ponti Bellavista Part 4

by Barbara Biggs | January 4 2021

We have been luckier than many during this terrible covid year. We have had enough bookings to cover our expenses. Many property owners have not been so lucky. Our bookings were much longer than usual, and virtually no non-Europeans. I don’t think a single person arrived on a flight – all drove from near or far.