Sunday, April 28, 2013

Milan and Lake Como

We have had very few months here in which we've spent a whole month just in the country of Italy. April is one of those months. This long weekend trip took us to the Lombardy region of Italy, more specifically Milan and Lake Como. Milan is very different than other cities in Italy, and other Italians refer to the Milanese as workaholics, cold, and business-like. Top designers make their home in Milan while aspiring models from around the world hope to parade in their clothes on the runways. It is also home to Italy's stock exchange and drives a lot of the economy. It isn't powered by tourism; visitors don't usually spend much time in Milan as there aren't as many sites as the other cities, but they do flock to see the city's Duomo and the painting of "The Last Supper".

The Duomo in Milan
We spent a night in Milan and walked around some of the city. We had wanted to see "The Last Supper", but didn't realize that we needed to buy tickets way ahead of time, and thus we weren't able to see it. Instead, we went inside Milan's Duomo, which is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. We climbed to the roof and marveled at the Gothic architecture of this building. We were truly impressed by the design and detail of this cathedral!

Impressive statues lined the corners

After we climbed down we walked through the streets and headed to Sforza Castle. It's near the center of the city and unlike many of the castles we've been to, we didn't have to climb a hill to get to it! The courtyard serves as a local park and the castle itself holds many museums.

The next day we drove to Lake Como and stayed in a peaceful village called Varenna. Varenna is not as touristy as the more well-known Lake Como town of Bellagio, but is in a great position on the lake to take ferries to and from there if one so chooses. Varenna is full of steep staircases leading down to the water, with small and quaint alleyways in which one can find some hidden gems.

 A lot of staircases....

We had booked a one hour boat tour in order to get acquainted with the towns on the lake. Luca, our boat guy, was waiting for us at the bottom of a steep stone staircase with a bottle of Prosecco, pizza, and olives. As we clinked our glasses we left the town of Varenna and boated to many of the different towns on the lake. Each town seems to have its own charm, history, and different attractions, and thus providing many reasons why people choose certain towns on the lake. Unfortunately, it was a very hazy day and a storm was approaching so we didn't get to see the amazing views of the Alps that we were hoping for, but we could still appreciate everything that Lake Como had to offer. We didn't see the town of Laglio where George Clooney owns a villa, but Luca was very excited to show us on the map where he vacations.

Leaving Varenna


A nice villa!

This river is called Fiumelatte, Italian for "Milk River"

Varenna is overlooked by a castle in Perledo. We walked a little north of Varenna and picked up the "mule track" trail to Castello di Vezio. The trail was steep and rocky, and we climbed up and up until we arrived in a small piazza. We bought our tickets then headed to the path leading to the castle. The castle is supposed to boast incredible 360 degree views of the towns and across the lake, but it was so hazy that we couldn't see everything that we had seen in pictures - we haven't been having much luck in the weather department lately! Nevertheless, we enjoyed our hike and were happy that the thunderstorm didn't start until after we returned to Varenna.

The walk up


The guard tower

A serene path back
The rest of our weekend kept us inside most of the time as the area experienced a huge thunderstorm from Friday night to Sunday morning. We had hoped to see more of the towns and experience all that this beautiful part of the country has, but it wasn't in the cards for us. We have already vowed to come back to this area in the future, hopefully with some nicer weather! Nonetheless, we're happy to have had one rain free day in Varenna and we packed in as much as we could!


  1. Amazing photos! Love all the stairway shots. So glad you are living it up over there. We miss you!

  2. Milan sounds very different from the other cities that you have visited in Italy! I'm thinking about the region of Tuscany, with the beautiful B&B's, and how "hamish" and down to earth the people are. But then again, since top designers and the stock exchange make their home in Milan, I can see why the people in this city would get the reputation of being very business-like and cold. But then how many cities can say they have the Duomo, which has to be one of the most beautiful and exquisite Gothic Cathedrals in the world! The statues on the corners of the cathedral are amazing! Very impressive! (Love the "triangle" pic with the cathedral in the background! Very cool! After seeing the pics of the village of Varenna, I can definitely see why you described it as a "peaceful village". First, I want to say that these pics looked just like they could be picture-postcards! The first thing I noticed was the colorful buildings with the calm water and the trees in the background. So beautiful with the cobblestoned walkways! Very quaint! (This is definitely right up my "alley"!!) Gorgeous views and scenery from the castle overlooking Varenna! It sounds like you guys had a spectacular time, even though the weather didn't fully cooperate! You'll definitely have to go back again and visit this beautiful part of Italy!