[Part 2 of the Como series]
In 1867, during his travels in Europe, Mark Twain visited lake Como. He writes, in The Innocents Abroad, that he reached “the curious old town of Como, at the foot of the lake” by train from Milan, and then took a steamer to Bellagio where, along with his co-passengers, he was locked in a cell and exposed to “a smoke that smelt of all the dead things of earth.” The locals resorted to this method of “fumigation” to “guard themselves against the cholera, though we hailed from no infected port.”
After this pungent beginning, he settled down and took in the beauty around him:
A great feature of Como’s attractiveness is the multitude of pretty houses and gardens that cluster upon its shores and on its mountain sides. They look so snug and so homelike, and at eventide when everything seems to slumber, and the music of the vesper bells comes stealing over the water, one almost believes that nowhere else than on the Lake of Como can there be found such a paradise of tranquil repose.
Mark Twain stayed in Bellagio for a few days, before journeying further to the town of Lecco. Later in the book, in a passage that pokes fun at the Italian obsession for Michealangelo, he says the artist “designed the Lake of Como.”