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Curious what backpackers do in Italy? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
  • Day18

    There is no umbrella. I have checked every nook and cranny in our apartment (there aren't many) so it looks like we're just going to have run for it today. I know that like an old person I keep commenting on the weather, but it has been really bloody hot. I was starting to think that it was just that we didn't have time to acclimatise but we know what hot days are like. We're having 2-3 showers a day just to cool down. Is it that we've gone soft from having air con everywhere? Domestic aircon in Italy is pretty much nonexistent. It doesn't really cool down at all until the sun sets behind the mountains on the other side of the lake, about 9pm. Last night the threatened thunderstorms finally hit. This morning I can't see across to the other side of the lake, those big mountains make for a pretty ferocious storm. Maybe it won't be quite so hot today. Now, to yesterday. We decided to jump in the car and head north (actually I have no idea if it is north. It is the opposite direction to that in which we usually go though) to a town called Colico. Colico is much closer to the really big mountains we can see from Bellano and at the top end of Lake Como. In fact you can drive around to the other side of the lake this way. John had been recommended a small local restaurant in an out of the way place to eat so we decided to head to that for lunch and see a few other sites while in the vicinity. The cafe for lunch was pretty good, if a bit tricky. It was down a small dead end lane sandwiched between a river and the rock wall of mountains. From my poor translation of signage in Italian it seems that there are grottos in the mountain that lead to a glacier under the mountain and there are places where very cool air is released. There was one next to the cafe. Very pleasant. We were the only non Europeans there and it was a extremely busy, we waited for an hour for a table and weren't disappointed. The food wasn't fancy by any means but was simple good home style Italian food. Yum. I think I could be converted to polenta. We stopped at monastry in Piona that we had thought we might like to see last time we were here but just didn't get to it. Up a few narrow windy roads to get there, worth the visit. A lovely cloister. Next stop an old fort: Forte Fuente. Who knew the Spaniard's were once in Italy? This fort was apparently built back in the Beginning of the 1600's, there's not a whole lot left to see since Napoleon gave it the once over but it was built to stop the Protestants from coming across the mountains from what is Switzerland today, and corrupting the Catholics of Spain / Italy. We had an unusual guide for this visit. A tabby met us in the car park at the bottom of the hill and walked with us all the way to the top of the hill where the fort is located.Read more

  • Day16

    You really know you're in Italy when you need 3 different adapters joined together, balanced precariously on the lid of a small bin to make the connection just right to get the charge going into the phone.....not to mention the dodgy internet connection.

    Today we're having a leisurely start to the day and taking the 11am fast ferry into Como for the day. Yesterday for our first day after arriving we decided to explore by ferry. We are located quite close to the Bellano ferry terminal so we have no need to get the car out. We decide to go across the lake to Menaggio, then to Bellagio, and back to Bellano. The weather continues to be quite hot, mid 30's each day threatening thunderstorms in the evening. These conditions mean that we really have to find a nice bar or cafe with lake views at every stop for a refreshing drink. Luckily there are plenty of such places and Menaggio was no exception. The little tourist info office provided us with a map of a small walking tour around the town. Highlights being the place where Mussolini was shot. Apparently this town was the bolt hole for wealthy Milanese during the war and also a hidey hole for the resistance.
    From Menaggio across the Lake to Bellagio, ready for lunch now. It's going to take a day or two to get the ferry timetable right. Not too many ferrys come up the lake to Bellano so by the time we finished lunch we had to get back on the ferry or wait until the next one at 6pm. We'll have to come back and wander Bellagio on another day. What a hardship. Lunch was great, a nice restaurant right on the waters edge, enjoying the pasta! Back at our apartments Roger wandered up the road to one of the very few beaches for a swim.
    We can see a restaurant from our balcony that is only open at night and is quite busy. We went there for dinner last night had a great meal. The prices are so good after Switzerland. What an expensive place that is...last nights meal cost $35 per couple, pizza's, mussels, wine beers, in Switzerland we were paying well over $100 per couple for our meals.
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  • Day17

    Today we decided to head into Como. A bit of retail therapy and to look at the large impressive Villa Omo. Where we are at Bellano we don't have the number of ferries that the 3 primary ports get so the earliest ferry into Como left Bellano at 11.15, getting us into Como at 12. Same situation for the return journey, either catch the 4 pm ferry back or the 7pm. Turns out we weren't going to be done in time to catch the earlier one so stayed on til evening. Another hot day so walking to the Villa didn't seem far but proved to be quite sweat-inducing!!! Along the way we passed several other Villas - all apparently vacant having been purchased by the local administration back in the 1950's and now don't seem to be occupied or used for anything. We finally made to the Villa only to discover it's only opened on Saturdays. Damn. Back we walk into town. God, its hot. We find an air conditioned bar and for once none of us order anything alcoholic. It was home made lemonade with mint to cool us down. Spent a bit of time wandering the shops, of course who could pass up the opportunity for Italian shoes? Not us. We found a bar with a good gin menu, spent a bit of time there, then moved two down where they had good bar food. Funnily enough the hours til 7pm went quite quickly.Read more

  • Day15

    What a difference two days makes. We left Zermatt the same way we arrived, by train. On the way there we had our faces glued to the window, oohing and ahhing at every glimpse of the Matterhorn. On the way out, I don't think we looked out the window once. Ready for the next adventure. It was a big day's driving, over 300k's to get us here. We took some time at the station to try and rearrange the luggage so that the back seat passengers weren't squashed up with a suit case as they had been on the way to Switzerland. After much jiggling and creative puzzle solving we managed to make it all fit in the back.
    The drive took us over the Swiss Alps, mainly on freeway, with two border crossings. We got through without a hitch but every truck was stopped causing a few delays. All things considered, the GPS served us well today - there were a couple of moments where road conditions or design had changed and it took us a wrong way. But with Roge on the trusty iPad using maps we got ourselves right.
    We stopped at the very beautiful Lake Maggiore for lunch - John and Sharon's first glimpse of the this beautiful region. We stopped at a restaurant right by the waters edge had a great lunch watching the local wildlife and their baby's paddle by. Two lots of ducks, one with 11 eleven ducklings and swans and signets.
    We are staying in two separate apartments in the same building at Bellano - a smallish but nice village that has everything we need, bu most importantly we have a parking spot! This is almost unheard of around the lakes because of the steepness of the so close to the water. We are lucky that Bellano is reasonably flat for a distance from the edge of the of the lake. Both of the apartments face the lake.
    I am sitting on our verandah watching the first ferry of the day go by...we are quite close to a small ferry terminal - it's within walking distance, I can see it from where I am sitting. The weather continues to be perfect and today we plan on getting a ferry timetable and start to do some lake exploring.
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  • Day19

    Yesterday was a great day. We managed to fit quite a bit and still not feel like we'd over done it. The weather after the storm was perfect (I've decided to stick with the regular weather theme. Have just read that the western Europe heat wave is on its way to Eastern Europe. Can't wait.) took the car yesterday and used the car ferries to cross the lake to explore. First stop, on our side, Verenna and Villa Monestreo. We visited last time we were here and it really is too good to pass up for a second visit. Perched right on the edge of the lake the gardens are spectacular. Thin wedge that spread from the Villa along the lake shore. I'll let the pictures tell the story on this one. From the Villa we went down to toward to the waterfront through the Sunday market, stocked up in bread, strawberries and other fresh yummy stuff. Back in the car to the ferry for the crossing to Menaggio. From here our plan was to have lunch along the way to a visit to Villa Balbianello. Visiting this Villa was great choice (we are spoiled for choice). It is located on the top of a rocky mini peninsula that juts out into the lake. This fabulous Villa is quite famous having been used in movies such as Casino Royale where Daniel Craig is seen recuperating on the lawn, and Star Wars episode two. It has quite an interesting history having been original occupied by Franciscan monks who built the original church. It was then owned by the same family for over a century, changing Hands in the early 1930's to an American who used it as his summer house until the 1950's. at this time it was bought by an Italian man who can into immense wealth following the death of his father who had a supermarket chain. Business sold, Villa Balbianello bought. This man was an explorer and collector, the Villa filled with interesting relics that he had gathered along the way. He died relatively young in the 1980's and left the Villa to the Italian National Trust with enough money to ensue it's on going maintenance. Must have been plenty as they're still using that money today. A really very gorgeous place to visit. Can't imaging how spectacular it would have been to live there. We found a lovely little restaurant for lunch, great food, wine, ambience. What's not to like about sitting on the waters edge enjoying amazing views?Read more

  • Day18

    Lizzie took us on a walk around town since the crowd was lesser today. Stopped at this cafe for a light snack and discovered an awesome Italian soda called spuma bionda paoletti. I sure hope they have it back in the States.

  • Day17

    We arrived 10 minutes before the kitchen closed (guess that's a pattern for us.. why does everyone close at 1030?) But got proscuitto and mozzarella appetizers, I got pasta Alla amatriciana, and Lizzie got ravioli. Dessert was a nice tiramisu. Maybe we are getting predictable...

  • Day18

    We slept in and then walked back over to the cafe. I didn't see the big pistachio eclairs so I just got a sandwich, which is just as well since my stomach has been bothering me this week. Lizzie got a sandwich and some pasta.

    Incidentally, while trying to soothe my stomach I discovered that Italian espresso is really good. Plus Lizzie found the eclairs. Woot!

    Oh, and for all that the bill was only 27€. Italy is all right by me.Read more

  • Day18

    .. and oh my God did we do it right. We start with the traditional Tuscan appetizer platter... Which turned out to be a ton of things each more delicious than the last. Pea souffle, pate and tomato bruschetta, fried zucchini flowers and ricotta, a sliced meat plate, and an incredible cucumber and tomato salad that makes mine look like child's play.

    Then as if that weren't enough, Lizzie got a veal steak with truffle and I got a steak steak with balsamic glaze and a side salad. Neither was on the menu - Lizzie's was the daily special and the chef created mine when I ordered a steak designed to serve 2 by accident. That would have been 1 kilogram - way to much for me. The resulting filet was tender, juicy, perfectly cooked, and delicious. Lizzie's truffle we also scrumptious; in her words: "uhhhmmm.. yeah. I don't even know. Mouth watering veal and spinach that made me feel like I shouldn't ever cook spinach again, since it won't compare."

    The owner was at our table along with our server, and helped us order, and her daughter operated the till. Family owned and operated by friendly people, delicious and creative meals, and the best tomatoes I've eaten in Italy.

    Finally we had the daily special cake, with Chantilly cream, fresh fruit, and chocolate caramel stripe goodness. Practically had to roll us out the door.

    I am so sad we only discovered this place on our last day, everything was so good.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Repubblica Italiana, Italien, Italy, Italië, Itali, ጣልያን, Italia, إيطاليا, ܐܝܛܠܝܐ, ইটালি, İtaliya, Італія, Италия, ইতালী, ཨི་ཀྲར་ལི་, Italija, Itàlia, Itálie, Италї, Итали, Yr Eidal, ཨྀཊ་ལི, Italia nutome, Ιταλία, Italujo, Itaalia, ایتالیا, Italie, Étalie, Itaalje, An Iodáil, An Eadailt, ઇટાલી, Italiya, איטליה, इटली, Italska, Olaszország, Իտալիա, ꑴꄊꆺ, Ítalía, イタリア共和国, gugdrxitali, იტალია, អ៊ីតាលី, ಇಟಲಿ, 이탈리아, ئیتاڵی, Yitale, ອິຕາລີ, Itālija, Италија, ഇറ്റലി, Italja, အီတလီ, इटाली, Itualii, ଇଟାଲୀ, Włochy, ایټالیه, Itália, Italya, Itâglia, Ubutaliyani, Italùii, ඉතාලිය, Taliansko, Talyaaniga, Uitaliani, இத்தாலி, ఇటలి, Итолиё, ประเทศอิตาลี, ጣሊያን, ʻĪtali, İtalya, ’Itāria, اٹلی, Itałia, Italia (Ý), Litaliyän, איטאליע, Orílẹ́ède Italiyi, 意大利, i-Italy

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