Saturday, December 26, 2015

Milan To Varenna To Bellagio and Back

Narrow street/alley stairway, Lake Como

Bellagio View

View from Ristorante Vecchia Varenna outdoor seating.

Lake Como, View from the ferry

  Getting to Lake Como from Milan was fairly easy. The Milano Centrale Train Station was less than a 5 minute walk from our Hotel Mythos (we booked our room through booking.com). We bought our "andata e ritorno" (round trip) tickets for 6,70 euros each for the two of us (26,80 euros total - about $30). The regional Trenord train would take us from Milan to the Varenna-Esino station. We validated our tickets before boarding our train; more about this in another post, but always be sure to validate your train tickets prior to boarding or you could be in for a BIG fine of 50 euros! It was a nice one hour trip with some beautiful mountain and lake views.
  We arrived at the Varenna-Esino station at 9:30 in the morning. The town of Varenna and the waterfront was an easy 5 minute walk down the hill from the station. Just follow the signs. The ferry ticket booth was our first stop. Round trip tickets to Bellagio cost about 10,40 euro for two. Since we had about an hour wait for the next ferry, we found a cute little place for coffee (please see the previous post).
  What a beautiful boat ride it was under a clear sky with the temperature near 65 degrees! Though we were cautioned that there might not be restaurants open past the first week of November, there were several open in Varenna and Bellagio right on the waterfront. Much of Bellagio is built into a hill providing for some ancient stone stairways in the narrow alleys between streets. We enjoyed walking the stairways to the opposite side of the town where sailboats were nestled near the shore. After checking out the town's restaurant menus, we boarded the ferry back to Varenna for lunch.
   The place we chose for Debbie's birthday lunch was the cozy Vecchia Varenna Ristorante right at the water's edge. The moderately priced menu was just a bit too gourmet for me, but we both were able to choose wine, antipasti and entrees that we liked.  Our waiter was also kind enough to bring our shared dessert with a single birthday candle for Debbie. Here is my Tripadvisor review.
   We ended the birthday celebration with a glass of wine and snacks ( 3 euros per glass) at L'Orso Pub & Osteria, once again seated outside enjoying the beautiful lakefront view. At the end of this wonderful and relaxing day on Lake Como, we walked back to the train station for the trip back to Milan.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Lake Como in November

On our recent trip to Italy, we wanted to celebrate Debbie's 65th birthday at Lake Como on November 9th. We were hoping to find a nice place for lunch on a day train trip (one hour on Trenord) from Milan. As I researched Lake Como on Tripadvisor and Rick Steves, I kept reading that there may not be many restaurants open after November 1st, especially on a Monday. I contacted a few that were open in November, but they didn't open on Monday.  Since the weather forecast was so fantastic, we decided to go and took the train to Varenna. We got there right on time at about 10 AM. We found a wonderful little place, Varenna Caffe, right on the water. (please see my photo below). We sat outside with our caffe Americano and a muffin and totally enjoyed the view.  From the Caffe Varenna, we took the ferry to Bellagio and back...More on this great day trip on my next post.
Varenna Caffe View

Here is my Tripadvisor review for the Varenna Caffe.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Serendipity in Siena at Cane e Gatto

Serendipity! I took this photo of my wife Debbie in Siena on our Italy trip at Trattoria Osteria Cane e Gatto. After I snapped the shot, we both noticed the framed picture on the wall across from our table!


We had lunch at Cane e Gatto, Via Pagliaresi, 6, 53100 Siena, Italy in November 2015, the day before they closed closed (?) for the season or just for the next day (Thursday) as the owner explained the limited lunch menu. Even with restricted offerings, it was just wonderful. We had stopped in for an early lunch by Italian standards at about 11:30 and we were the only customers for the whole time. Very little English was spoken by the owner and molto poco italiano spoken by us, but all was well after Debbie said, "We'll get there." The owner agreed and we did 'get there.' A bit of pointing to the menu, an Italian word here, an English word there, and we had one of the most delicious and enjoyable meals on our two week adventure in Italy. We both had Pappa e Pomodoro as an antipasta, pasta entrees and shared a mezzo (1/2) liter of house wine (vino della casa). We highly recommend Cane e Gatto for excellent food and wine, service and atmosphere. Don't miss it!
Debbie enjoying lunch at Pane e Gatto, Siena

"Serendipity" photo at Cane e Gatto, Siena

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Italy Is Waiting For You


Welcome to Italy Is Waiting For You - Get Going! On this blog, I hope to give folks some inspiration and hints for traveling to Italy especially if that is a lifelong dream. You can do it! This blog is for helping you to get started. My wife, Debbie, and I planned our first trip without the help of travel agents or tour guides in 2011. Since then, we have been back three more times. We have spent a total of 9 weeks in Italy and visited many towns and cities. We are in our late sixties and early 70s. We have had no trouble reserving flights, buying train tickets, booking a tour or two and finding perfect lodging on our own. You can, too!

One of the cities we visited on our third and fourth adventure to Italy since 2011 was Bologna. Its endless porticos, like the one in my photo above, help make it a great place to be even if it rains. You can walk for miles and stay out of the rain, or shield yourself from the searing sun.

I hope to cover our experiences with plane tickets, train/bus tickets, museum reservations, self-catering apartment rentals, language, eating out and tipping, among other topics.

Please check back often. I want to be able to answer your questions, once I get going. I'm just getting started. I hope to help beginning travelers to find their way and their courage. We are still beginners, but wish to share our travels with you. Most of our time has been spent in Florence (Firenze) and vicinity, but we have been to Rome, Venice, Milan, Bologna and Cinque Terre, as well as quite a few other beautiful towns and cities. On our last trip in November 2016, we spent 2 days in Milan, 3days in Florence, 5 days in Sorrento and 5 days in Bologna.

Barry DeCarli
Goshen, MA