It’s hard to believe that this time last year we were in Lake Como, Italy - just months before Adina was born. I was about 24 weeks pregnant, my bump was just starting to "pop" and I was full of energy! Our "babymoon" was so incredible and I’m so happy Michael and I were able to have this special time together as a couple. We’re pretty adventurous travelers, but we didn’t want to risk any unknowns when it came to food and safety so we were somewhat limited in where we could go. Because I was pregnant during the height of the Zika virus, that made most places in South America and the Caribbean out of the question. Deep into my second trimester, I didn’t want to get any new vaccinations and we wanted to make sure there were quality medical facilities nearby (just in case!) Japan has been on our list for a while but the thought of a 15 hour flight plus all of the sushi I wouldn’t be able to enjoy quickly made that destination a no-go. We needed a place with great weather, a combination of exploring and relaxation, and not too far away. Italy fit the bill!
Although I didn’t know much about Lake Como (besides it being George Clooney’s vacation destination and the place where John Legend and Chrissy Teigen got married), when Michael found a great deal on flights to Milan, we couldn’t pass it up! It was a real YOLO situation. I’m so glad we did because this was by far one of the best vacations of my life. Read on to see lots of pictures from our Lake Como Travel Diary, as well as recommendations for things to do and places to eat.
We flew into Milan and took a train from the airport to Como (very easy to do!) From there, we took a ferry to one of the towns around the lake. We stayed in 2 different towns on the lake - Lezzeno, which was more low-key and local feeling and Varenna, which was a bit more of a tourist destination. The best of both worlds! We did not rent a car or drive during our trip. You can take public buses and ferries to get around everywhere. The beauty of Lake Como is unparalleled! The lake is surrounded by large, beautiful mountains and the views are truly breathtaking. Little villages dot the mountains and lake shore. You can see some amazing images of the lake here.
The first town was the quiet one - Lezzeno. We stayed at a great Bed and Breakfast hotel (most hotels in Lake Como include breakfast) called Hotel Aurora. There is not a ton to do in the town, but it was the perfect place for some real R & R! The hotel has private lake access for guests with a spacious dock with lounge chairs, a bar, and water sport activities (paddle boards, kayaks, floats, a water trampoline - all free - as well as water skiing and wakeboarding that you can get lessons and rent for a fee.) So relaxing! Aurora also has a terrific restaurant (make a reservation to make sure you get a lake-view table....the restaurant gets pretty busy! Lots of Italians and other travelers come to the restaurant from other towns around the lake.)
We also did a few day trips to other towns from Lezzeno. The hotel was very informative and accommodating - sharing all of the ferry and bus schedules with us and helping us plan our trip. We went to Tremezzo one day and visited the Villa Carlotta gardens. So beautiful! We also went to Bellagio for a day and had fun exploring the cobblestone streets and shopping in the town. There are villas in every town - after you've seen a few, you might feel like we did and get "villa'ed out." We also rented a scooter while in Bellagio and rode around in the mountains and explored smaller towns in the countryside. On our ride, we went to Tratorria Baita Belvedere, a beautiful farm-to-table restaurant at the top of the mountain with amazing panoramic views of Como.
The second town we stayed at was Varenna, full of quaint, narrow alleyways, cobblestone streets, gelaterias on every corner and lots of stairs. This was so cute and had much more going on in the town than Lezzeno did. There are a ton of restaurants - I would make reservations for the ones you want to go to. We stayed at Albergo Milano hotel but you should note that the rooms can get very hot and there's no AC. That said, the hotel has a beautiful restaurant overlooking the lake. I DEFINITELY recommend eating at Il Cavatappi - it looks unsuspecting but the food and service was excellent! This was one of our most memorable meals - ever!
We rented a private speed boat through Boats 2 Rent Varenna and LOVED it! We rented it for half a day (4 hours) but could have easily stayed out for longer. I was a tiny bit nervous because Michael had never driven a boat before, but it turned out to be much easier than riding a car and it was very easy to manage. I even took a turn steering! We got to take the boat all over the lake and stop whenever we wanted to jump out and take a swim. This was probably Michael's favorite part of the trip - I think he would have stayed out on the boat for days if he could've. Tip: Make sure to get a boat with a canopy. We reserved it the day before at the boarding dock at Bar II Molo in Varenna. One of the highlights from our trip!
On our last day in Varenna, we decided to take a day trip to St. Mortiz, Switzerland. You can buy tickets at the local train station for the Bernina Express train (we got seats in a regular train car - the windows go all the way down so you can stick your head out to take in all the sties and seats in the the panoramic train car on the way back where the windows extend above, onto the top of the car - more expensive but worth it!) You can make other stops along the way (we stopped in Posciavo, a classic Swiss town - so cute and quaint) and do a hop on hop off ride on the train. You could also stay overnight but we did a 7 am - 7 pm day. St. Moritz is beautiful but very touristy. It is a popular skiing destination. The real beauty of the trip is the ride itself through the alps, passing all of the picturesque Swiss towns. We even saw snow-capped mountains. Everywhere you look is like a post card! Read more about it here.
We did our final full day in Milan. You really don't need more than a day or two there. We did it on the end of our trip since we were flying out of Milan International airport. We stayed at the Boscolo hotel, which was in a great location! We visited the Duomo church (including the rooftop terrace) and explored Milan a bit, but it was really hot so after walking around for most of the morning and early afternoon, we decided to come back to the hotel to relax at the pool and relax before dinner. We had dinner in a different part of the city called Navigli District, which is right by the canal. It had a very upbeat, happening atmosphere, with lots of people sitting at outdoor cafes and restaurants right by the water.
All in all, we had a fabulous time! The trip was a the perfect combination of adventure and relaxation - and was a very memorable last trip as a family of 2! We loved sightseeing in the cute Italian towns, enjoying the delicious pizza, pasta, and gelato everyday and relaxing by the lake. I hope I inspired some of you to make a trip to Lake Como one day! It’s truly a beautiful city and I already can’t wait to go back. If you’ve been to Lake Como before please let me know some of your favorite spots in the comments below. What are some other places you’d love to travel to? I’d love to add them to my list!