How I Spent a Week in Italy … on Weekend Meanderings

Today on Weekend Meanderings, how I spent my week-long vacation in Italy … what I did, what I read and my new essential travel accessories. 

Happy weekend, friends!

It’s Saturday and I’m joining Kim and Elizabeth for Weekend Meanderings.

Our weekly roundup of inspiration and goings on.

This post includes affiliate links for your convenience at no additional cost to you. You can read my full disclosure policy here.

Photo of building on Lake Iseo.

Lake Iseo

We’re back from Italy!

It was magnifico.

Good friends, a beautiful wedding, amazing food and breathtaking scenery.

I love to travel, but dislike traveling.

Traveling as in planes, trains and automobiles.

And airports.

Things are crazy out there.

Or maybe I’m old and grouchy.

But let’s not dwell on the negative, let’s get to the fun stuff.

How I spent a week in Northern Italy’s lake region!



The first stop on our week-long adventure was the town of Iseo on Lake Iseo. Lake Como is the most famous lake in the region, and Garda the largest, but Iseo is full of charm and surprises. We checked into Hotel Araba Fenice right on the lake and the official wedding hotel! The hotel has a new floating pool (floating pools are big in the lakes region) which made up a stunning back drop for … just about everything.

Exterior picture of Hotel Araba Fenice at Lake Iseo, Italy.

Hotel Araba Fenice

We stayed in a room with a small balcony overlooking the lake. The rooms are small … closet space is sparse. Same goes for the bathroom … small, single vanity. But the shower was nice size and everything in the hotel is recently refurbished and quite lovely. I wish I’d taken a picture once we’d unpacked. I took the small amoire-style closet and Jim hung his clothes on the wall pegs … there were a lot of them! There were a few suites in the hotel, but we left those to the wedding party. Hey, we’re in Italy with good friends overlooking a gorgeous lake. No complaints here.

Superior hotel room at Hotel Araba Fenice.

Hotel Araba Fenice

The view from our little balcony.

The hub of the hotel is its lounge, bar and restaurant. The morning breakfast spread reminded me a little of White Lotus in Sicily. We’d see We headed down there first thing each morning and chatted with friends as they came and went throughout the morning. It was also a gathering spot in the evenings for appertivo

On our first day we walked into town (about a mile). You can also bike, take a metro-style train that runs right in front of the hotel … or a water taxi.

That evening a group of us took boat tour of the lake including a boat-by of the lake’s two private islands with stunning villas.

We were then dropped off at the third island, Monte Isola, to stroll, explore and enjoy appertivos.

And then on to dinner at Osteria Spirito Divino in Lovere. We sat around a large table decorated simply but elegantly with single stem hydrangea blooms and lavenders in crystal decanters.

Wedding Eve party at Lake Iseo restaurant.

Osteria Spirito Divino

The morning after the wedding at Ca’ Del Bosco in Erbusco (more on that later …) we set off on another group adventure about an hour towards the Alps to Fattoria della Felicita, a family organic farm and restaurant, for a cheese making workshop, tour and an amazing multi-course lunch in their 200-year old farmhouse.

Lunch was delicious, and I was so enthralled I forgot to take pictures of the incredible food presentation.

Friends sitting around farmhouse table in Italy.

A couple of people in our group took a tour of the famed Riva boat factory on the shores of Lake Iseo. They loved it. Our hotel lobby displayed a replica and painting of classic Riva boats.

Riva model boat in hotel lobby.

And then we went our separate ways …

Four men standing on pool deck in Italy.


The purpose of our trip was to attend the wedding of Jim’s good friend at Ca’ del Bosco in Erusbo. The winery is about 30 minutes from Lake Iseo (an hour and a quarter from Milan). Winery weddings are always fun … but this one was spectacular. I mean … the setting … stunning. Stunning!

Vineyard at Ca' Del Bosco in Italy.


Jim, the groom and many of our friends at the wedding, work in the wine industry … and they’ve been to a lot of amazing wineries and vineyards all over the world. But even this jaded crew was impressed. When we were asked, during the reception, if anyone would like a tour of the cellar and barrel room … instead of eye rolls (you’ve seen one winery you’ve seen them all) they rushed to line up.

The art throughout the property, including the cellar, was impressive, fun and thought provoking. You can learn more about it here. I got a kick out of the rhinoceros hanging at the entrance to the cellar … and the big egg near the reception location. All the sculpture and photography was amazing.

You can follow Ca’ del Bosco’s Instagram here. And by all means, when visiting the region, book a tour!

Couple cutting wedding cake at Ca' Del Bosco winery in Italy.

Best wishes Jennifer & Joe!


Next stop, Lake Como … about a 2-hour car ride from Iseo. We checked into the Mandarin Oriental … and, oh my gosh. F A B U L O U S! A 75-room resort on the Eastern shore of Como built around a 19th century villa … it’s pure magic. The gardens … out of this world. My photos don’t do them justice.

Exterior photo of Mandarine Oriental Hotel at Lake Como.

Mandarine Oriental

We arrived around lunch time and our room wasn’t ready. No one wants to check-out. As soon as we were able to get into our room, I decided to never check-out either.

Vista Lago Terrance Room at Mandarine Oriental Lake Como.

While we waited we enjoyed a leisurely lunch on the terrace overlooking the pool and eyeing the self-serve gelato cart.

I’m not sure what we were thinking, but after our long, amazingly delicious lunch and getting settled in our room, we went for afternoon tea. We opted to take tea tea indoors … to cool off. It was hot and humid in both Iseo and Como. I never had need for the light-weight jackets and wraps I packed. You can see everything I  packed here. Next week I’ll share what I actually wore. Anyway, afternoon tea was lovely and in the most beautiful room.

And then we were off to dinner at L’Aira. So much eating, but when in Italy …

Speaking of floating pools, the Mandarin Oriental boasts a brand spanking new floating, infinity edge pool (replacing the former plain old floating pool, ha!). Let me just say, you have not lived until you’ve lounged by an infinity edge, floating pool. And the people watching at the pool is off the charts.

I would have stayed poolside forever … but Jim dragged me kicking and screaming to the boat dock for a tour of the lake. I oohed and awed over all the historic villas (yes, we saw George and Amal’s place) and hotels.

The boat dropped us off in the city of Bellagio. It was quite hot when we disembarked so we went in search of a refreshing Aperol Spritz at the Bar Florence Bellagio.

Then wandered the charming streets of Bellagio and eventually made our way to dinner at Ristorante La Punta. Recommended by our hotel concierge, Ristorante La Punta is beautifully situated on the point where the lake splits into two fingers. It’s a beautiful setting and the food was delicious. It was a lovely evening.

The floating pool is even more enchanting at night.

Floating pool at Mandarine Oriental.

We were in Como for such a short time (we’ll be back.) and didn’t have time to visit other towns, tour villas or even visit the hotel spa. Our niece Meghan and new husband, Greg spent part of their honeymoon here and said the hotel’s indoor spa pool is out of this world. We did stroll through the hotel gym, which is very nice … but let’s face it, after five days of pasta and pizza … why bother?


A vacation isn’t a vacation unless I’ve read a book … or two. I devoured Same Time Next Summer by Annabel Monaghan and Elin Hilderbrand’s The Five-Star Weekend. Both are ideal beach (pool, airplane) reads. Highly recommend.

Same Time Next Summer | The Five-Star Weekend


When I bought this passport holder on Amazon I wasn’t entirely sure it was necessary. And Jim scoffed. But … I loved it and found it very handy. What made it extra nice is it also held my credit card, medical insurance card, Global Entry and Clear cards so I was able to leave my bulkier wallet at home. And it fit into my Lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag (worn as a crossbody). More on that in a second.

Pink passport holder.

Just before we left on our trip I was talking to Kim who was also packing for a trip. She’d just been to Lululemon and told me a salesperson encouraged her to buy a Lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag to wear as a crossbody for traveling. Brilliant! I previously shared my love of the Lululemon belt-bag here … I used it daily to hold my cellphone when walking the dogs … and on the treadmill (for listening to podcasts). I’ve toyed with the idea of wearing it as a crossbody, like the kids do … and I finally took the plunge. I think I’m doing it wrong and the strap needs to be tightened up more. Still … it worked, I didn’t have to carry a second bag on the plane. Just enough room to hold my cell phone, passport holder and reading glasses.

Woman standing next to luggage in airport.

In addition to my travel (plane & hotel room) socks, I packed a pair of hotel/spa slippers in my carry-on bag to wear on the plane. I’m not sure why I never thought of this before. They take up no room in your carry-on and they’re prefect for trips to the powder room on long, overnight flights. You can buy hotel-style slippers, but I collect them from hotel stays (it’s my understanding that hotel provided slippers are fine to take home as they are thrown out anyway).

Woman wearing Mandarine Oriental spa slippers.

The power adapters I bought for the trip worked beautifully, but the voltage converter I bought did not (I might need to reread the instructions). The bottom line … my beloved Dry Bar Double Shot blow dryer is no more. I just ordered a new one, currently on sale at Sephora.

Did I mention it was hot and humid in Italy? And that I don’t like the feel of heavy moisturizers on my face. My favorite light-weight moisturizer was a champ in the hot weather. I brought it in the mini size which is perfectfor travel.

If you suddenly find yourself craving an Aperol Spritz, you can find my recipe here. And for a twist on the traditional, try the grapefruit version here.

Aperol Spritz and sliced oranges

I have to give credit where credit is due … to Jim for planning and organizing our entire trip. I was so busy beforehand I didn’t even glance at the itinerary (yes, he prepared an itinerary) until we were on the plane. I’m a lucky girl … while our trip may have been brief, it was amazing and wonderful. And Jim thought of every detail. Thanks, honey.

Travel itinerary, passport, room key holder and Polaris amenity kit.

I shared everything I packed for the trip here. And everything I actually wore here.

And that’s what I have for you this week.

Let’s see what’s inspiring Kim and Elizabeth …



If you missed my last post, you can catch up here.

You’ll find all my weekend roundup posts collected here.

You can also follow along on Instagram and Pinterest.

As always, I appreciate your visit and welcome your thoughts in the comments below.

Happy Fourth of July weekend from Snowberry!


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    • Ha! Thanks, Sue … maybe the winery will reach out and make me their ambassado?! I can dream! Happy 4th! xo

  • What a fabulous trip !! Your pictures are just stunning. I’m going to go back and look through them again !! I so wish my husband was a traveler. But, alas, it’s just not his thing. But I LOVE seeing new places. And Italy looks breathtaking!! Glad you had a wonderful time !!

    • Hi Robbin … thanks so much for visiting and happy 4th of July weekend! It was truly a wonderful trip, and so fun to go somewhere I’ve never been. I’m lucky Jim loves to travel … I’m more the reluctant one! Have you ever looked into one of those women’s traveling groups? Gray (State of Gray blog) has mentioned hers several times … and it looks like fun and a great way to travel when your partner in crime isn’t up for the same types of adventures. Anyway, there’s no place like home and I’m happy to be back. Happy weekend! xo

  • Looks like a fabulous trip! The lakes in Italy look enchanting as well as the beautiful Hotels! I love the dresses as you wore, you look so fresh, even in the described heat and humidity.

    • Thanks, Ginger … it was truly a wonderful trip! There’s something about being on vacation in a beautiful location that makes the heat seem less intense than it would at home. Ha! Hope you’re enjoying a wonderful 4th of July weekend! xo

  • Oh your trip sounds wonderful!!!
    I love Italy…that LuLuLemon bag sounds like a great travel bag too. Will look for it at my local store.

    Hostess of The Humble Bungalow

  • Welcome home Juliet!
    It sounds like a wonderful adventure. I have never been to that park of Italy, so have not had the pleasure of a floating pool. What a novel idea.
    The vineyard and the hotel look beautiful. As do the cheese making class, boat ride and trips to the little villages.
    The Mandarin!!! I would never leave there either!
    Jim is amazing! I love the itenary and the entire trip! How fun to just pack and leave everything to Jim.
    I am off to check out the LuLu bag, I did not know that I needed one but you have convinced me otherwise.
    Have a happy and safe 4th of July Juliet.
    xo Elizabeth

    P.S. We missed you last week.

  • Thanks for sharing the details of your time in Italy, we love the Italian Lakes! It looks like it was an idyllic trip, and you can believe I took a few notes for the future.
    Have a great weekend—-are you in the middle of jet lag still?

  • I remember seeing that villa that you now say is a hotel did they tell you who owned that villa? I want to say a PRINCE from somewhere anyway, what a trip it all looks fabulous to me! i’m surprised you had to take the converter. I would think those hotels would have all of that and yes I love my passport holder. Mine is in the beautiful chartreuse green. I recently discovered my passport has expired so I’m in the process of getting a new one where to go?
    Wonderful you got out of freezing, wild Marinda, and into the hills of Italy or Lakes. I should say, and you brought good weather back with you. Thank you for this heat I So SO NEED IT!

  • Juliet what a dream trip! Jim did well. Both your hotels look amazing! The Mandarin looks like a dream. My most favorite hotel ever in Sorrento also had a floating dock on the sea.. It is dreamy. You look cool and fresh and never sweaty! Love all the clothes. I also did the crossbody thing! So smart right? Makes it easy to find it all and not reach back into the purse all through the check in process. I love passport covers ! Mine says Howdy on the cover . LOL.
    Thank you for sharing this lovely trip!

  • Gorgeous pictures!! What a wonderful trip and you looked
    perfect!! I have the lulu bag too and wear crossbody, it
    took a bit to feel good with it across me but it holds
    a lot and I like my hands free when traveling This area of
    Italy now on my wish list!

  • Hi Juliet,
    What a dreamy week in Italy! Wow, everything looks so perfect. Jim can plan my next trip. I was 7 the when my family traveled to Italy. We rode donkeys on a beach somewhere. I have no idea where we were. and no one to ask anymore. Guess it’s time to go back and do a lot of exploring. My one semester of Italian at the JC will come in handy! ; )
    Glad you’re back safe and brought the warm weather with you!

  • What a glorious time in Italy you must have had! That Mandarine Oriental is so picturesque. Lake Como is on my list of places to visit. I’m glad you had a wonderful time. Jim did a nice job of putting it all together.
    Looking forward to seeing the photos of what you wore and what you’d change for next time (because there just HAS to be a next time!).
    I’m sure your pups were happy to have you back home.

    • Thanks, Janet … yes, I’d pack a little bit differently. Stay tuned! Hope you’re having a wonderful holiday weekend! xo

  • Hi Juliet,
    What a magical time you had in Italy with all your friends. I so enjoyed seeing all the pics, the lakes are beautiful.
    Thanks for sharing your trip .

  • Wonderful, fun, and elegant trip, Juliet! One of the highlights of my just-finished, (bit too) long trip to Europe (work/family visit as hubs is Italian) was a week with a girlfriend and her daughters in Florence and Bellagio — and we had a delightful evening at Ristorante La Punta! Bellagio is charming, but wall-wall w/ tourists. Visiting/staying at the smaller lakes or less-busy towns and ferrying to different villages is the way to go. BTW, you look a lot more polished in heat/humidity than I do!

    • Joan! Sounds like you had an amazing trip! And, yes, Bellagio was so crowded. It got a lot better in the evening … and I agree about the small towns and ferrying around. We loved our little neck of the woods down near Como. I think it was the quieter part of the lake. Love the you went to La Punta too. Judging by the crowd … it’s the place to go. Welcome home and thanks for stopping by! xo

  • Hey Juliet! it looks wonderful! Glad you had good weather and a great time!
    Tell me about the converter – I bought it on your rec. Should I not take it to Portugal??

    • Depends on what you’re using it for. I thought it would be an answer to my Europe hairdryer issues … and it was recommended by Damsel in Dior. But it did not work for my Dry Bar hair dryer brush. All our other electronics (phones, sound machine, etc. worked fine with just the adapter). I think the answer for hair is to buy a dryer in Europe or use the hotel dryer (they’re always hit or miss) or try to get hair blown out in salon. xo

      • Yeah – that’s what my roomie did last time we were in France – she bought one there. I was going to use it for a small steamer. Thanks for feedback!

  • Hi, I’m Juliet … welcome to Make Mine a Spritzer where we talk about all things home décor, classic style and more! I’m so happy you’re here!

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