to the lakes we never thought we’d cross

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My father has a love of geography that coloured our drives to and from piano lessons and school growing up. I remember riding up and down the motorway, reciting capital cities and groaning when he’d managed to stump me again. Somewhere along the way, he passed his love of geography on to me. I received a GeoSafari Globe for my birthday, and I spent ages spinning it and dreaming about the different places that I assumed I’d never see.

Why is it that we never think we’ll live the grand adventures we dream of?

Whilst we were staying in Milan, one of the guys that we met told a story of seeing the sun rise over Lake Como. His English was broken, but the beauty that he remembered was not, and it reminded me of the hours spent dreaming of that very place. It was meant to be the retreat of the rich and famous, the escape to beauty from the industrial plains that surround Milan. But his story reminded me that we were very near, and that it wasn’t so far removed as I thought. A quick check of train tickets and the weather brought my dream further into our grasp, and we found ourselves walking to the train station the very next day.

I am a mountain girl, born and bred on pine trees and ridge lines. I will forever find mountains more breathtaking than the sea. Despite this, I’ve only ever ridden through the Alps at break-neck speed, and upon setting foot in Como, the foothills of the Alps were beautiful enough to take my breath away.

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My only desires for the day were to eat gelato and spend hours staring at the mountains that surrounded the lake. The rain held off long enough for the latter to happen, and as for the former, it’s Italy. There were gelato shops aplenty.

After we took photographs and stared into the wind off the lake, we took refuge from the cold in the town of Como. The streets were deserted (which is not unusual for Italy around midday – the towns don’t come alive until the night), and we found ourselves sipping cappuccinos at a cafe with outdoor heaters. Then we wandered the streets, overwhelmed by walking on what seemed to be a real-life film set, and headed round the lake to find an unobstructed view of the snow-covered peaks.

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(photograph of me by Joseph Jordana)

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(photograph of me by Joseph Jordana)

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The rain did eventually find us, but it couldn’t spoil our day, and we took refuge in a gelato shop and ate away the inconvenience. It fell dark, and we tramped back to the train and Milan, still unable to believe that we’d spent a day in the place that had coloured our dreams.

And the best bit? It was even lovelier in reality.

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