“And to your left, you’ll see the holiday home of George Clooney” - a phrase uttered by our tour operator which made me simultaneously roll my eyes and peep over the shoulder of the woman sat in front of me to get a glimpse. Indeed, whilst this upscale, opulent resort is widely regarded as a ‘must visit’, I must confess that it was in fact my days spent in its surrounding islands which made my time in Lombardy the most memorable.
Last summer, I took a trip across the lakes, staying in a hotel in Lake Maggiore for close to a fortnight. My family had taken the decision to stay in a hotel as a change from our usual holiday airbnb/house and, whilst initially somewhat disappointed at the fact that I was quite clearly the only person under the age of 50 staying at the establishment, its endless supply of sweet breakfast pastries and cakes helped considerably in changing my view of the stay.
An unassuming town and less touristy than Lake Como, Lago Maggiore should not be sniffed at. An underdog of the lakes, the glacial island was not only architecturally beautiful but also possessed some of the best food I’ve eaten in Italy. It was upon trying my first Cotoletta alla Milanese, that I was smitten.
Of course, in paying visit to the Lombardy region, a trip to Milan is always a must. As my mother was petrified at the thought of my father driving into the centre of Milan, it was mutually agreed that the best decision for everyone’s sake was to undertake a guided tour. Expecting a Milanese metropolis, we were somewhat confused when our bus pulled into one of Milan’s oldest cemeteries. Whilst an interesting experience, I can’t say that walking across acres of tombstones for the most part of a morning was one of my ‘top-see’ attractions when spending 24hrs in the city.
At around lunchtime, we reached the city centre and I was struck by the magnificence and breathtaking beauty of the Duomo. Walking through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is truly spectacular, however, given the nature of the shops inside, I must admit that it was a somewhat swift trip and thus time for lunch. Seeing my father’s eyes water at the price of the starters in the restaurants on the outskirts of the duomo, we decided to settle for a cafe down a side street, unpopulated by camera snapping tourists, choosing instead to feast on panino which made any British toasted ‘panini’ seem like an embarrassingly tasteless imposter.
Whilst not strictly part of the Lombardy region, I also spent a day visiting the Swiss city of Locarno, situated at the base of the alps and known for its sun-soaked weather. Of course, when I visited, it was battling torrential downpours (something which seems to happen more often than not when my family venture on holiday). Nevertheless, in spite of the moody, biblical weather, the city was truly delightful. After enjoying a cappuccino (and for any Italians reading this, don’t worry, it was consumed before the afternoon), I decided that it was time to purchase some souvenirs as my time in the city drew to a close. However, having roamed endless cobbled streets littered with designer clothing and luxury watches, I decided it was probably best I settle for some postcards.
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