Italy is perfect. I mean it, just perfect. The food, the cities, the views, the lakes the mountains, the ocean, the wine- all perfect. It had been a few years since I'd been, and every time I go, I am reminded why I keep returning. This time of year for Northern Italy in my opinion is perfect- it's not too hot, but it's still warm enough to eat every meal outside, and swim in say Lake Como without freezing your butt off. We were blessed with nothing but sunshine our entire week there- how vacation should be but not always is am I right? Our entry and return point was Milan. We flew into MXP overnight, arriving on Saturday morning, grabbed our rental car and headed 1hr north to Lake Como.
We arrived in Blevio, a small town on the lake right past old town Como, to our Guest house Bella Dutchy. This was a B&B owned by a husband and wife- which took up the entire floor of a 5 story apartment building, with amazing views of Lake Como and a really nice pool/deck area only for use by guests. They also provided breakfast every morning, some pastries and cooked to order eggs, coffee, etc. Gated private parking was on the roof of the building, and they even gave us an early check in since our room was ready which was such a bonus for a quick power nap. Since everything closes for the weird time between lunch and dinner at 3pm, the host recommended we order some food to be delivered to Bella Dutchy from the local grocery spot La Dispensa. This was definitely the right move, we had some delicious caprese and pastas delivered, and at by the pool while we swam. That night we drove into Como town, and had dinner at Da Pietro which was so so good, fine dining outside with a view of one of the beautiful churches in town. After we stopped for some gelato at Gelato Vertigo right around the corner. This was a great way to start the trip- a real high note in terms of food!
After our first day we figured out the bus would be the best way to get to and from Blevio and Como town- it only cost a few euros, the bus stop was just a short walk down from Bella Dutchy, and the buses came every hour on the hour heading into Como town or the other direction all the way to Bellagio. For the next few nights we ended up taking the bus down to Como for dinner and back. The last bus out of Como Town was at 10pm, so if you are a late night person, maybe trying a taxi back would be a good recommendation.
Some fun activities we did our 3 days in Como:
- Hikes: there was a ton of hiking opportunities on our side of the lake. We found a few trails that picked up right in Blevio town: one hike to Montepiatto which took us 6mi/2hrs. It ended with a really great view by the church of the lake. The other direction we hiked towards Brunate for about 4miles- 1hr 30min. These hikes were both steep in the beginning, but evened out, and pretty shaded through the forest.
-Paddleboarding: We rented paddleboards from the Wakeboard club in Blevio- about a 10min walk from our B&B down the hill. We also had a simple lunch there- more caprese, more pasta. This paddleboarding was way tougher than I was anticipating! The Lake was a rockin from so many boats, but it was a really nice way to see some villas along the Lake and get a different viewpoint of some of the towns. We lasted about an hour with a quick swim in the middle.
-Funicular to Brunate: Bus to Como, funicular to Brunate which took you all the way up the mountain and left every 15mins to go up, and 30mins to come down. Nothing really special about the actual funicular ride, the views were nice, but they were even better obviously when we made it all the way to the top. We didn't venture too far, and found a spot right by the funicular station for dinner - Capolinea Bistro. Pretty cheap and had some amazing pizzas, we also caught the most ridiculous sunset that night, pretty epic.
-Exploring Bellagio and Nesso: Bellagio took us about 45mins to drive to from Blevio. The bus would have also been an option, but we wanted to stop in Nesso and swim, which we did. Parking in Bellagio was challenging, we had to drive through the town to the other side to stalk some parking lot spots. The town itself is super cute, we walked through the cobblestone narrow streets, got coffee take away, and just took in the sights and sounds. It had really pretty views of the lake, and lots of shopping options. After Bellagio on the drive back we stopped in Nesso (found parking on the side of the road) and walked all the way down to get some views of the famous bridge and waterfall. When we found them both, we quickly realized jumping off the Nesso bridge and swimming was the thing to do, so we did that for quite awhile! Talk about a picturesque swimming spot.
Our third night dinner spot was Al Teatro in Como town, right next to the theatre. We were able to sit outside and have a fantastic meal.
Lake Como is huge, we didn't even scratch the surface of all the amazing towns to visit and places to see- I hope to come back and see more!
Next stop: South Tyrol
Our fourth day in Italy we drove 4hrs 15mins into the mountains and up the mountains to Miramonte Boutique Hotel. What a difference just a few hours makes. We felt like we had just crossed the border into either Switzerland or Germany. This area had such a different feel than Como. And since we were now in the mountains and a little more remote- when it came to dining over the next few days- we kept dinners to the restaurants at Miramonte (they had 3, we tried 2).
Our days at Miramonte in summary consisted of amazing breakfasts in the morning, hiking in the mornings and afternoons, followed by enjoying their amazing infinity pool and spa services at the hotel (onsen pool, jacuzzis, sauna and steam rooms), then enjoying dinner.
Some hikes we did in South Tyrol:
-Falzeban: we drove 10mins to the parking lot. Then took the cable car up ($10 for parking, $23 per person for the cable car) to start our hike. We hiked Krautzenburger See, 6.5 miles 2.5hrs and ended at a little lake on the side of a mountain. This hike was popular with the animals, we encountered a few horses and goats on the trail which was fun! Very exposed, no shade, but really nice views of all the mountains and trails. We ended the hike with a pit stop for lunch at Waldmann Alm- they had amazing potatoes and prosecco.
-16 to 11: Our guide map showed us tons of hiking trails, all numbered and color coded and very easy to track. To start we drove to the parking lot at Gruner Alm and followed the trail up 8 mi/3hrs. Mostly exposed trail, no real payoff point in terms of views. Another lunchtime pit stop was made at Leaden Alm right on the trail. More great potatoes and prosecco.
-Right behind the hotel property was a chance for "forest bathing" (aka walking in the forest). Our last morning we woke up early and did a forest bath hike starting behind the hotel following trail 50 to Falzeban 4.75mi/1hr 50mins. Another hike with no real payoff point in terms of views.
Miramonte was one of the best hotels I've ever stayed in. One note though- they didn't have air conditioning. Being in the mountains, the nights would get cooler, but I still struggled a little sleeping in the room which had a hard time cooling down. They are big on sustainability so I get it, but that was it's only flaw. If you are a person who runs hot, this may be a tough thing for you to get past. However, I would highly recommend this place if you enjoy mountain views, amazing pools, spa days, hiking, good food. I didn't even mention every day from 3-5 they had an assortment of a dozen or so free cakes for a snack. Who doesn't like that?! I wish we had seen more of the towns, but once you are up in those mountains it's hard to come down!
Our final stop was Milan- a 3.5 hr drive from South Tyrol. We stayed at the Curio Grand Hotel Villa Teretto, which was kind of a strange hotel. It was a former mansion/villa/private residence. It was not really in Milan, sort of on the outskirts, which was good since we didn't want to deal with driving through city traffic, and wanted to be able to get to the airport from pretty quick (still was about 45mins from MXP). Parking was super easy, it was about a 9min walk from the subway station which we used a ton, and across the street from a huge park (parque Norde) which we did a run in. The rooms were huge, breakfast buffet was good, they did have a restaurant for dinner we didn't dine at. The place was like a maze though, the air conditioning was pretty weak in the room and no pool either. Pros and Cons right?
We only had 2 days in Milan, which honestly felt like enough. What we did:
-Dinners and drinks along the canal in the trendy Naviglio area. Gotta say none of the restaurants we ate at blew me away so I won't be recommending them. The area is fun though, tons of places to choose from. And the walk from the Duomo was about 30 mins with some really cool spots to hit on the way.
-Checked out the Duomo obviously and got our pics
-Spent the day at Q Terme day spa which was a really nice way to spend a hot day in the city. We bought a 5hr time slot online ($70 a person) the night before and took the subway there. The facilities were great, they had a ton of indoor and outdoor pools, weird sleeping rooms, saunas and steam rooms. We had lunch there as well which was buffet style and super healthy and good.
-We did not shop but if that's your thing you are in luck- Milan has a million fashion stores in the Duomo area so have at it!
Ciao for now Italy!