I've just returned from 18 days in Italy. I'm now wondering if it really happened or if it was all a dream. Either way I have memories and of course photos to reminisce upon. I've decided to break this up into several posts since there are just way too many images and stories to share. Hopefully, by doing so you will feel a part of this adventure.
Just to preface, I had planned to go on this trip for over a year . . . but I have dreamt of this trip since middle school. I had a bulletin board in my room and on it were a few things that I cherished including a clipped out photo of Venice. I never doubted I would go it was just a matter of when.
Many do not know that right before we were to leave on our trip my mother was unexpectedly diagnosed with a brain tumor and surgery was scheduled during our original travel dates. The saying goes, family comes first . . . and it did. To make a long story short, my mother is a walking miracle and making a wonderful recovery by the grace of God. She encouraged me to still go to Italy. So once her doctor gave us the good report we made the decision to still go. I quickly reshuffled our trip itinerary and jumped into the rabbit hole.
DAY 1: Nashville to Milan
So began our trek from Nashville, Tn to Milan, IT. We had a miserable and bumpy 8+ hour flight (excluding our 2.5 hour flight to Newark earlier that day) where we tried to sleep but couldn't get comfortable enough to do so. I almost questioned if it was worth it at one point until I saw pink light pushing through the rim of the window shades. I looked out to see the most glorious view of the Swiss/Italian Alps. I was reminded of the work by artist Will Cotton and thought how it all looked like an edible dessert. The cotton candy clouds enveloped white frosted mountains while the sweet pastel sky backdropped the entire scene.
I knew then that this trip would change me.
DAY 2 - DAY 3: Varenna on Lake Como.
Upon arrival to Malpensa Airport we took a train to Milano Centrale then from there we muddled through the shock of being in a new country where so much is different and trained to Varenna. I must note that I had done some research so I was somewhat prepared for the logistics of ticket purchasing, arrival/departures, stops and so on. After a few train trips I learned to absolutely love this mode of transportation.
We arrived to the sleepy town in about 1.5 hours. Once we got our bearings we made our way through the town luggage in-tow and started the 20 minute incline trek to our hotel. I wanted this hotel particularly for one thing only: THE VIEW. Our balcony view was not only breathtaking but we could even ride the scary funicular to the top of our hotel for a higher vantage point.
For the the rest of the day and onto the next we explored all that Lake Como had to offer which included the historic Castello di Vezio and a day trip to Bellagio.
The incline hike to the Castello (even higher than our hotel) was steep but pleasant and we encountered a plethora of olive groves. The Castello grounds contained a menagerie of birds of prey and several haunting art installations. We took a moment to take in the view and noticed Italian Alps peaking out in the distance.
Later that day we found ourselves in Bellagio after a delicious gelato and an invigorating ferry ride across Lake Como. I was determined to lunch at a highly rated lakeside restaurant and after a wayward walk we found out it was closed for the season. So back to the town we went hungry and tired. We found a nice cafe and plopped down to regain our strength. The main enjoyments in Bellagio are strolling, dining, boating, shopping, oh, and Limoncello. I purchased some beautiful watercolors from an artist and decided it really is the best kind of souvenir, art, something one-of-a-kind from a creative local.
The nights in Varenna were quiet and peaceful. I couldn't bare to close the balcony door as I watch the sun fade and the town lights come alive like fireflies in Neverland. I feared the morning would bring me back to the reality of maturity and responsibility but in the dark I clung to dreams and prayed I'd never forget.
“You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you. That’s where I’ll be waiting.”
- Lauren Athalia
All Images © Lauren Athalia Photography unless otherwise stated.