We returned to Italy after a brief foray into France, and it was everything we remembered it to be and more. In fact, over dinner one evening, I remarked that Italy might be the single most “lived up to its hype, and then some” country we’ve visited.
The drive from France was stunning. We took a different route than the one we’d driven in (along the coast), which led us through the mountains and some ski areas. The landscape was beautiful, including a few pretty turquoise lakes.
After deciding to spend our anniversary in Italy’s lake region, we chose to stay at the famed Lake Como, having heard it’s the most beautiful. And we settled on Bellagio as our town of choice since it is said to have the most spectacular views of said outstanding lake. It didn’t disappoint. Bellagio, “the pearl of the lake,” is set at the tip of the peninsula separating the two legs that make up part of the lake’s (upside down) “Y” shape. The resulting panorama includes the surrounding mountains and water with nearly 360° views.
We rented a flat a bit of a walk from town, but we were compensated with an incredibly spacious abode and a superb view. I mean, look at this:
We went out for dinner upon arrival, and the food was just as good as we remembered; the wine as cheap as we’d remembered. We’d heard rumors that Bellagio could be pricey and stuffy, but we found great value and exceptional service! So good that we actually tried to go back to the same restaurant the next night for our anniversary (but sadly all of the outdoor tables had been booked).
Though technically the day before our anniversary, we celebrated our nearly two years of wedded bliss on the 21st. We had perfect weather and so we walked into town, meandering along the steep side streets from the lakeside up the hill. We enjoyed lunch with a view on the tip of Punta Spartivento, where you get epic 180+° views of the lake.
Back at our flat we shared some pre-dinner drinks and watched our wedding video. Alan swears I’m the only person who actually watches her wedding video, but someone back me up here! Watching your own wedding video is like watching the best movie ever. And who doesn’t enjoy reliving the best day of their lives? (Side Note: I’m also weirdly fascinated by the yearly anniversary gifts thing, hence the title of this post. Does anyone actually give gifts like this? Both of our anniversary gifts to each other have been, well, traveling the world for a year, so we’re not exactly following tradition.) We finished the evening with the primo table at a lakefront hotel for our final taste of Italian food (for now at least). Goodbye Italy, we’ve adored you, and we will be back!
And just because it’s our anniversary and I wasn’t blogging when we got married, here are just a few of my favorite snaps from our big day.
Wedding photos by Kim Fox Photography.
Coming from a wedding in Cassis and about to meet Jack in Munich for Oktoberfest, we wanted a peaceful and romantic setting to celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary. Lake Como certainly fit the bill, and Bellagio was wonderful. There are multiple lakes in this region, with Lake Como being the most famous. And Lake Como itself is very large with a great many lakeside communities. Bellagio is renowned for its elegance and wealthy residents, and we were concerned it might feel too snooty and restaurants would be way overpriced. In fact, it is adorable and quite approachable, and while the restaurants are pricier than certain other areas of Italy, we were pleasantly surprised by the value. It is very touristy, but the town manages to absorb the crowds better than e.g. Vernazza. I can see why Steve named his flagship Vegas casino after this place.
Transportation: We drove from Cassis, France, taking the inland route through Parc National des Ecrins, Briancon, Turin, Milan, etc. Much of the drive was through superb scenery, passing impressive sheer rock faces guarding over alpine villages. Italy further proved itself the country with far more tunnels than any I’ve visited. In Bellagio we walked everywhere; it is compact. There are water taxis and ferries for visiting other lake communities.
We departed on an Air Dolomiti flight out of Bergamo Orio al Serio (one of Milan’s airports, which took 1.5 hours to reach by car from Bellagio) direct to Munich for Oktoberfest!! There are some nice mountain views from the plane, I think sitting on the left (facing the front) is preferable.
Accommodation: We stayed in an Airbnb apartment on Via Aureggio, which is south of town on a hill with lovely views. We liked our spot, but it is ~15 minutes walking to town. There are a couple closer places for food. Many times in Europe we have opted for more space and less money, with the trade-off being a 10-20 minute walk from town. There are several options closer to the heart of Bellagio.
Food and Drinks: The food in Italy continued to impress us, and the regional variations are noteworthy. Good luck finding carbonara or cacio e pepe here. There is a lot of lake fish on most menus, at times sautéed or fried with butter and sage. There is generally more butter and cream, and there are also some richer cheese sauces for pasta, and dishes that reflect the proximity to Switzerland/Germany/Austria…such as melted cheese with smoked beef. House wine is less likely to be Sangiovese. We saw plenty of Tuscan wine, but also more from Piedmont, Lombardy, etc.
Dinner at Bilacus was great. The bresaola comes from the north part of the lake and was so red and fresh. That plus pasta, a mixed fish plate and a half liter of a solid cabernet blend house wine cost €48. Lunch at La Punta was most enjoyable, with an expansive view of the lake and tasty pasta. A mixed salad, two pastas and two glasses of wine cost €55. Dinner at Hotel Metropole was quite good, with a nice lakeside location (albeit some ferry traffic nearby).
Activities: We just walked around and enjoyed the scenery. Some take boat trips either to visit other lake towns or just for the views. I think there are some walks and hikes in the area. We considered visiting the Villa Melzi Gardens (costs €6.50), but alas…
September 20-22, 2014 (Saturday-Monday)