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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And then we went our separate ways …
CA’ DEL BOSCO
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
TWO BOOKS I READ AND LOVED WHILE IN ITALY
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.
MY (NEW) ESSENTIAL TRAVEL ACCESSORIES
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
As always, I appreciate your visit and welcome your thoughts in the comments below.
Happy Fourth of July weekend from Snowberry!