Finding the Italian Road Less Traveled–Eventually

by Donna on March 18, 2012

Italy seems to be on everyone’s bucket list.  Rome and Roman ruins, Florence, Tuscan villas and vineyards, Umbria, Naples, Sorrento, Amalfi Coast, Sorrento, Sicily , the southern coast.  It’s all wonderful, and most of it served up on a platter by lots of tour operators.   But there is this corner of Italy that is often ignored.  Tucked in the northeast, with Switzerland to the north and France to the East, the Piedmonte is mostly known for the Shroud of Turin.  There’s got to be more than another, albeit famous, cathedral.  Obviously I can’t turn down the offer of a unique trip.

After 24 hours, I am almost there!  My bag and I made it to Rome, and now it is the long hike to my gate for that last flight to Como.  Too bad I have to rush through the huge airport.  Rome is an airport for strolling.  It is eye candy everywhere, with movie-star handsome hunks at the passport control, fashionably dressed elegant women sipping cappuccino at little cafés, and stores filled with Italian designer clothes or tempting displays of cheeses, pastries and wine.  Ah….welcome to Rome!

Arrival in the small airport at Milan is somewhat less thrilling, but it’s only the gateway to our destination.  It’s another hour drive to the real beginning of my latest adventure—legendary Lake Como whose picture-postcard shores are lined with villas and mansions are lined with current legends, like George Clooney.  Our small coach is comfortable, my eleven fellow companions congenial, our guide Italian guide Laura exuberant.   Still, I think everyone napped after the long haul.

The Barchetta Excelsior couldn’t be better located.  The hotel faces the harbor and the mountains beyond that extend up to Switzerland.  Little bars and restaurants are along one side street from the hotel.  The narrow streets of the old walled old city stretch directly behind the hotel.   The view is supposed to be beautiful, at least that’s what Laura says.  For now I’ll have to take her work for it.  It’s drizzling, and the hills surrounding the lake are shrouded in mist.

If the weather is disappointing, the reception is anything but.  Chilled prosecco and snacks to welcome us.  Delightful Michelangelo, our hotel manager, insisting we at least try his special virgin pino colada.  Not a very Italian drink, but as Michelangelo pointed out, they are his very own creation, so they must be excellent.  The Italians are nothing if not expressive.  Welcome to Italy!


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