Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Our Trip to Italy - Part 1 - Bellagio on Como Lake

This post is long overdue as hubby and I came back from Italy on the 9th of April. I will try to remember as much as I can. We were in Italy for 13 days and we covered Como, Milan, Venice and Rome. We were so excited because we managed to get really cheap fares on Singapore Airlines. Two return tickets cost us approximate RM5.8k. The funny thing was it was cheaper to fly into Milan and out of Rome, then vice versa. In fact, it costs almost double if you do it the other way around. I put it down to the fact that there are less flights in and out of Rome as compared to Milan.

Before the trip of course, I was frantically searching for hotels and tours and such. I book all my hotels based on recommendations on Tripadvisor . However, I do not always book through the third party websites there as sometimes, you may be able to get better deals if you book with the hotel directly. I am not sure if it is true for all Europe travels but if you come across something called Nozio Traveller, i.e. certain hotels have an affiliation with Nozio and you can get cheaper rates by being a member. Membership is free and I managed to get a cheaper rate in the hotel in Milan from this.

My hubby and I prefer not to join tours from Malaysia anywhere because they usually take you to tourist type restaurants and such. However, for Italy, we thought some tours in the particular cities would place less stress on us. I chose the tour operators based on recommendations in Tripadvisor as well as Viator. However, with Viator, you will only be told the actual tour operator's company name when you sign up and pay for a particular tour. But they also provide feedback on their website so you can sort of gauge from there. I booked a tour for Milan through Viator and was happy with the service and the tour. More about that later.

Our first stop was Como, or more specifically, Bellagio which is situated on Como Lake. If you have a lot of luggage and are planning to go back to Milan after your trip, I strong suggest that you only take one bag with you if you are not staying a long time in Como. We landed in Milan, dropped off our huge luggage with our hotel and proceeded back to Milan Centrale Station for the train to Varenna. From Varenna, you have a 10 minute walk to the ferry dock. Two one way tickets from Milan to Varenna cost about 35 Euros and the journey takes about 1.5 hours. The ferry to Bellagio costs approximately 3 Euros per person (if I remember correctly). The ferry ride is a quick 10-15 minutes and the scenery is absolutely beautiful. I have a particular affliction for lakeside towns because I find it so peaceful. We had beautiful weather the whole time in Bellagio which I was grateful for.

View from the ferry as we approach Bellagio

Bellagio is a beautiful quaint little town. Basically you can walk the entire town in 2 days. The tourist season had not really begun when we arrived on March 28, so the 3 biggest hotels were still closed, as were many of the restaurants. But we were able to relax and walk around town, enjoy the foods and just take in the fresh air. It was awesome! Love love love Bellagio! The plus side of NOT going during tourist season is that you have a lot of peace and quiet and you can take pictures without dozens of people in your pictures. Haha..

View of Como Lake from our table where we were having lunch

Just loveee these trees

Our hotel in Bellagio was a small quaint place called Hotel Centrale Bellagio. Our room was charming and had a skylight which I loved. It was not a big room but adequate for our needs as it was clean and the beds comfortable enough. The room also came with free internet much to hubby's delight.

Our charming tiny room

There isn't really much to do around Bellagio. The only touristy thing we did was to visit Villa Serbellioni which is famous for its gardens and was once owned by an elite member of society who unfortunately passed on when she was very young. That's about it. One of the better restaurants we ate at were Trattoria San Giacomo and Ristorante Antico (I think that was the name). Be sure to visit these restaurants if you are ever in Bellagio.

Como is truly breathtaking and beautiful. Peaceful and away from the hustle and bustle of city life...I miss it already...

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