When I asked family who lived in Italy for 30+ years where to vaca in Italy, they suggested Lake Como: nuff said. This area is an Italian treasure, seriously, sweet dreams are made of these (Lake towns).
The two places that we mainly ventured were Varenna and Bellagio, Bellagio being the more busy and larger of the two. Transportation to the Lake is easiest by train from Milan. Make sure you look up where you are staying and there are direct and inexpensive trains to most towns on the Lake from Milan. I made the mistake of thinking the train to COMO would be the easiest way to navigate to any of the towns, BIG MISTAKE. Hey, this is how we learn, but on the lake this is not at all how it works because of the shape, so make sure to book the train directly to where you stay.
As far as transportation once you are there, you can visit different towns by cheap trains that run through the mountains, and by ferries. When we arrived we decided to rent a boat on two of our days and I can not stress how fun this was. I’m not sure I knew true happiness before exploring this lake with friends and searching for our boy George Clooney’s house. Side note* I asked around in Italian and the closest response I got to where he lived was “distante” -far. You actually don’t need a boating license although two in our group had them and renting the boats was affordable but made us feel very boujie.
The towns are built up into the hills with shops and restaurants all along the streets. The food is simple and delicious, but we did try carpione at a small restaurant, when my boyfriend asked me the translation I said “maybe it means carp?” which apparently is wrong on many levels. It is a way to prepare fish, and what we received was small, lukewarm fish in a vinegar based “sauce” that to his credit he ate all of, but was not my cup of tea. The cappuccino in Italy generally is incredible, I’m not sure whether the gorgeous backdrop made them better or if there was something in the water, but they were incredible here and I had two to three a day.
We also drank a ton of wine and got a drink in Bellagio that was essentially Italian ice and vodka, which is now the only way I like to consume my Italian ice.
This is a relaxed Italian vacation spot, the towns are laced with Renaissance architecture, some of the villas you can explore, the small colorful streets built into the hills are filled with small shops selling handmade art and ceramics and you will be more than happy sitting at a lakeside restaurant, sipping a (litre) of wine and watching the world go by. Walking back to our airbnb one night we walked through a field of *sparkling* fireflies, and I am not exaggerating, I could have sworn I was hallucinating. We ended our vacation there and part of me wished I had skipped all the rest to escape to these enchanted towns and sing songs from the hilltops. This is the most beautiful place I have ever been, the water is clear, the towns are quaint and clean, the view is like something off of a postcard, with swans and ducks swimming close to shore. I could have simply written this blog in one word “go.” and it would probably be as useful, if you go here I think it’s impossible to be unhappy, but I selfishly wanted to relive my trip so I wrote the post anyways.