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A Week-long Solo trip: Exploring Milan, Lake Como & Beyond in Northern Italy

Updated: Jan 16

A while ago I spent a week alone in Italy. Here's my report. Be prepared, it's long. I'll start with what I saw and did, then will do a small part on my mood and mental health during the trip. This report was written when I was still there and reflects my thoughts at that time.

Also, it's Italy. It's always a good idea to go to Italy.


My initial plan was the following:

  • Milan

  • Lake Como

  • Bergamo

  • Lake Garda

  • Lake Iseo

Italy Lake Garda Sunset
Lake Garda

MILAN

I started with 2 days in Milan. I have friends there, so it was an obvious starting point. My Italian friends there don't like the city, but I quite enjoyed it. I have to admit that for once, the Covid situation is making things better as there are less tourists, and hotel prices are lower. I stayed at the Hotel Flora near the central station. 55€/night. Not good, not bad. OK for solo.


Navigli of Milano at sunset

I really enjoyed the multiple aspects of the city. The architecture, the different neighborhoods, the people, etc. I Really loved it (my feet after 26km, enjoyed it a bit less). I saw the Duomo of course, which was pretty much empty. Really impressing, and the galleries near it as well. I did pretty much all the Da Vinci museums / places, except the church with the last supper, as it was closed for the afternoon (?!). I also did a lot of churches, parks, places, the Milan University (where you can have beers every night right in front the beautiful main building), etc. I spent the last evening in the Naviglii area, with a beautiful sunset over the river and the colorful bars and restaurants. I then moved to Lake Como.



Sunset on Milano Naviglii Area
Milano Naviglii Area


The most beautiful lake in Northen Italy : LAKE COMO

I had booked 2 nights in Bellagio, at the Hotel Fioroni. Around 65€/night, family run. Really nice place, had a double room for myself with a tiny balcony. Absolutely stunning view on the mountains, could see a bit of the lake on my left.

Just imagine, waking up, having the sunrise on the yellow houses and the lush green mountains, with an absolute silence. Paradise. Good breakfast too and free parking. 15 minutes walk from the city center, either by following the road with view on the lake, or from inside the village, which makes you arrive on the other side of Bellagio. This city/village is really really great and beautiful. More tourists than in Milan though, on a Sunday evening. The Monday was totally empty. Amazing food, stunning view on the lake.

For food, try the Enoteca Cava Turaciolo. Simple and good set of cheese and ham, but it's the wine that you go there for. I took a tester of 3 wines, 2 reds and one white. One of the red just blew my mind. Sfurzat Carlo Negrid. Just, wow. Waiter took the time to explain the origins, how to pour it properly, and we discussed a bit.



Sunset on Lake Como
Lake Como


Bellagio - Como - Bellagio

All the little narrow streets are super cute and for the Instagram fans, that's where you can take a lot of the empty narrow streets pictures.

The next day, I went to visit Como. Quite nice town, about an hour drive from Bellagio. They have an hydroplane club (does not sounds great at first glance but I'm an aviation fan), nice and cute city center. The Duomo is quite impressive as well, but that's for the walk on the pedestrian alongside the big villas that you go there. Simply beautiful. Makes you wish the time stops. I just stayed an one bench for 20 minutes, looking at the opposite side of the lake, without thinking to anything. Only disturbed by a chopper bringing construction material to what I guess is the future villa of some random rich person.



Small street in Bellagio, Italy
Bellagio



Cernobbio

Then I drove to Cernobbio. Equally beautiful and much more peaceful, but smaller. I also could have gone there on foot from Como. I did not stay there too long, but still enjoyed it. And, as everywhere on Lake como, the view is just splendid.

The last evening I went back to my hotel in Bellagio, and I went for supper to the Hotel Métropole. I wish I had not. I should have checked Google before. I just saw they had the traditional fish risotto from that area. They rushed everything, I got the dish while I still had my aperitivo. Then the wine. I ordered the same whine I had the day before (the Surfzat) at the enoteca. They did not serve me what I ordered. I got a low grade headache-inducing shitty wine. The fish on the plate was, I'm pretty sure, reheated in a micro wave oven. That really took my mood down. Shame because I was in a pretty good spirit by then.


At least, I could enjoy one of the most beautiful sunset I've ever seen in my life.

Sunset on Lake Como (Bellagio)

Anyway, I got the f*** out of there and we t back to my hotel, prepping for the next day, which was departure day to Bergamo, just for the day and spent the night in Garda, on the lake of the same name.


When I woke up, I did not want to go to Bergamo. I was just too in harmony with the lake Como and I wanted to see the Villa del Barbianello, which I could not visit before as it was closed on Mondays. So I figured, let's go to Varena and take a boat trip from there.

The drive was really enjoyable, loads of little cute villages.

When I arrived in Varenna, I was instantly charmed by the place. This is the typical lakeshore village, absolutely stunning, cute, loving, insert any adjective here. I absolutely loved the place. Made me think I want to spend my retirement there.

As the streets are a bit narrow, not many tourists still felt like a bit more than in the other places. But it's as idealistic as you could expect.


Varenna (Lake Como)

Got a pizza at the Bar il molo. Fairly priced, and OK for quality. Spirits are cheap too. The ice cream was ginormous and cheap.

In the end, I did not go to the Villa del Barbianello as I'd prefer spending more time in Varenna.

But still, around 3pm, I had to take the road for the 2 hours drive to Garda.



Varenna, Northern Italy
Varenna



LAKE GARDA

The drive to Garda (the city) was a bit less pleasant then around Lake Como, but that was expected, as it's a good chunk of highway.

Instantly, I felt like I should have started with Garda then Como, as the landscape is quite a downgrade. Don't get me wrong, it's also really nice and beautifully, but the scenes are less grandiose than on Lake Como.


Many many more tourists there, and if the prices are much lower than on Lake Como, the quality is too. The bars are more rushed. Hotel is meh.

I'm not feeling confortable here. I want to leave. I'm writing these lines "enjoying" a spritz on the harbor.


One think that is really nice is the sunset. There a small cliff going down slowly to the water surface and the sun drops being it, showing you wonderful colors and a stunning view. Can't complain about that at all.


I've been trying to go to a restaurant two times, but it seems like they don't like solo travelers. That pissed me off more than I'd care to say, because I really wanted to go there. Anyway, that second restaurant deception of the week gifted me with one of my best picture ever (see below).

Sunset on Lake Garda (Garda)


Tomorrow will be driving to Lake Iseo, a hotel in Iseo and a short night before going to the airport around 5m to come back to my no-so-sweet Belgium.




Sunset on the Lake Garda
Lake Garda

- F -


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