Day 1 – We've arrived!

We had a nice flight and landed safely at Malpensa Airport outside of Milan in the morning. Unfortunately, neither one of us slept much overnight. A daytime flight a day before the tour began might have been a wiser choice for us. Our first mistake was to cash in American dollars for Euros at an airport exchange booth. It was not a fair exchange! For the rest of the trip, we used a debit card at a bank ATM or paid with a charge card (I think Rick mentioned this). We hopped onto a train at the airport and traveled to the Milano Centrale Train Station where we caught another train to our first overnight destination, Varenna. An electrical storm caused our train to break down for an hour or so. It turned out that the two people sitting across from us were on the same tour… how nice! We also chatted with a charming, Italian lady sitting next to us named Josephina. As an English teacher, she easily translated the Italian updates coming over the loudspeaker. The views of Lake Como from the train were breathtaking. We checked into our hotel which was right on San Giorgio Square and were very pleased with our room. It had a beautiful balcony view of the lake and the historic church tower complete with a tolling bell. We met with our group at 5pm and shared some sparkling wine then enjoyed a relaxing dinner on our own at a lovely, grotto-type restaurant called Quattro Pass.

 

 

Day 2 – A day on our own at Lake Como

 

Our breakfast was amazing! The hotel served a delicious buffet on white linen with gorgeous views of the lake and mountains beyond. It was surreal. We really couldn’t believe we were finally in Italy and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. Our guide gave us a ferry boat pass for the day to explore the lakeside towns. For lunch, we visited an outdoor cafe in Tremezzo where we drank cappuccino and shared a pizza topped with tomatoes and fresh porcini mushrooms (we had never eaten fresh porcini mushrooms before, only dried). After lunch, we toured The Villa Carlotta Museum and botanical gardens. The estate was built by The Clerici family, successful silk merchants, in 1690 and was completed in its initial form in 1695. While strolling through the gardens, we met a young couple from Massachusetts atop a hill in an olive grove. She listened to Rick Steves shows throughout her pregnancy and four years later, these shows are now her son’s favorite. He watches them with a bowl of popcorn. Guess he got used to Rick’s voice! Took another ferry to Lenno, then to Bellagio and then back to Varenna and enjoyed our free time wandering around all of these places. We had dinner on our own at the hotel grill and both chose a hearty, local favorite dish called Pizzoccheri and a glass of their delicious local red wine.

Copyright 2020 by Louise Bianchi. All rights reserved.