The scenery was spectacular, the weather was perfect and the food was amazing for the six days we hiked around Lake Orta, Maggiore and Como the last week of September. We arrived in Milan a day early so we could adjust to the time change and see some of the city, including the Duomo.
It was fashion week in Milan which just made it obvious who was a tourist, even if you tried really hard to look fashionable! The hiking boots probably didn’t help.
We decided to travel with Country Walkers and were thrilled with that decision. I was a little worried about traveling in a group of 16 but with two excellent guides and a wonderful mix of people, the week was really fun. Plus, our guides – Fiorella and Alessandro, took care of everything…right down to buying us water every morning before our hike and pulling snacks out of their backpack just when you were getting hungry.
Our walking began on a lakeside promenade of Lake Orta, the smallest of the lakes, known for its serenity, simplicity and religious devotion. It was also my favourite.
Hotel San Rocco was our home for two nights and our balcony provided a view of Isola San Giulio, a tiny island known as the ‘Island of Silence.’ A footpath circles the island, one way is The Way of Silence, and the other is The Way of Meditation. We chose to walk the meditation direction and passed several plaques with a variety of sayings such as Walls are in the mind, Open your being and Listen to the water, the wind, your steps…
One day we hiked from the town of Armeno to our lunch in Coiromonte and on to the open meadows of Tre Montagnette where we had views of both Lake Orta and Maggiore. The best part was the sound of the cowbells…every cow had one!
We hiked, we toured villas and gardens, we drank wine, we rode boats, and we slept! It was a wonderful way to spend a week. The last three nights were spent in Bellagio on Lake Como at the Hotel Belvedere. Bellagio is a beautiful town with waterfront restaurants, shops selling local silk and more people than the other towns we were in. And in case you were wondering, we did not see George Clooney!
At the end of the movie Casino Royale, Daniel Craig is recovering under the tree pictured below at the Villa del Balbianello, just across Lake Como from Bellagio. The movie A Month By The Lake was also shot at this villa!
After the Country Walkers trip ended, we took a train from Milan to Venice and spent a few days in this beautiful, crowded, sinking city!
The island of Burano provided a colourful break from the tourists in Venice one day and a delicious lunch of fresh fish and seafood risotto at da Romano. Our hotel told us that they served the best risotto in all of Italy! We asked our waiter about the claim and apparently Anthony Bourdain had eaten there several years ago and declared the risotto the best. It was very good!
Apparently Monday was wash day in Burano.
Our charming hotel in Venice – Novecento had a little patio, an honour bar and delicious breakfast. By the last night, we almost knew how to get back to the hotel without consulting the map every minute. It is impossible not to get lost in Venice, but it’s fun! When it was time to head to the airport we chose a water taxi to avoid schlepping our bags through the pedestrian congestion. The taxi was an adventure zipping through the canals like we were in the movie The Italian Job, getting stuck in canal traffic and passing other boats that were in our way!
Each time I go to Italy I find more reasons to want to return. Ciao!
P.S. Global Entry is awesome!