Italia Days 3 & 4: Lake Como & Milan
It’s been almost a month since part one of my Italy recap, and I’m sure you all have been on the edge of your seats, dying to know what happens next! Maybe not, but, shh, just pretend you were dying of suspense.
When I left off, we returned to Levanto after hiking through Cinque Terre and went to bed so we could start our next day in Lake Como. Before leaving Levanto, because it was getting dark when we explored the town two days before, we walked around some more to see beautiful Levanto in the sunlight, stopping by the beach, hiking a bit up the hills, and then returning to the hostel. From there, we took a train to Lake Como, a lake and town in northern Italy that’s probably best known to you all as the place where George Clooney likes to spend his vacations (according to Wikipedia, Madonna, Versace, Sylvester Stallone, and others also have villas on the shore of the lake). No, we did not see George, but they do love him there, as we saw plenty of photos of him everywhere.
Me on the Levanto shore.
Exploring Levanto before leaving.
After arriving at the train station, we hauled our luggage to the hostel (which was a bit hard to find, but we eventually made it after stopping first to take photos of the lake and a Villa Olmo, a fancy public villa), got settled in, and then headed into the main part of town. Our walk took us around the lake, which looked particularly pretty at night, and we bumped into some kind of military ceremony/procession that we never figured out. Unfortunately, our time in Lake Como was rainy and overcast, but we had been lucky to have a full sunny day in Cinque Terre and to only get a bit of drizzle our first day in Lake Como. In town, we found a pizza place where we got absolutely delicious pizza. I’m almost drooling remembering all the food we ate on this trip. The main part of town is a cute shopping area, so we visited a few shops, got our daily gelato fix at McDonald’s (McDonald’s ice cream in Europe is surprisingly delicious!) and then called it a night.
Lake Como. I’m sure it would have been prettier if it had been sunny, but still very pretty.
A lakeside villa.
Jen and me eating amazing pizza.
When we checked into our hostel, we found out that Lake Como was a short bus trip away from the Switzerland border. Jen and Rances had never been to Switzerland, so the idea of crossing the border called to them. Sarah wanted to stay in Lake Como and explore the towns in the area. I decided to join Jen and Rances. The best way to get to Switzerland from Lake Como is to take a cheap city bus to the border (only about ten minutes away) and then cross on foot, but the people at the hostel told us the border town, Chiasso, didn’t have much to offer, so we should take a train from there to Lugano.
We took their suggestion, and, unfortunately, Lugano was pretty dull too, especially because everything was closed because it was Sunday (in Madrid, most stores close on Sundays, but Lugano takes their Sundays even more seriously), and the rain kind of put a damper (ha, pun) on the trip, especially because Rances’ and my shoes soaked through. That’s never fun, but it was still very cool to visit Switzerland. When I went to Switzerland in 2008 with my mom, sister, and aunt, we visited the French and German-speaking parts of the country, so it was interesting to see the Italian-speaking (and otherwise Italian-influenced) part. We walked around the town, spent a long time at McDonald’s (because it was warm and dry), and then took the train back to Chiasso and the bus to Como.
Lago di Lugano.
Looking down into Lugano.
Back in Como, we met up with Sarah, walked around the main part of town some more, attempted to dry off at the hostel, and then caught a train to Milan. We only had a few hours to spend in Milan, which we did intentionally after hearing that Milan wasn’t a great city to visit, but I enjoyed my time there. I don’t have a good feel for how the city is, but the parts we visited were really nice, at least at night. We saw Il Duomo, a cathedral that’s probably Milan’s most famous landmark, and the area around it, ate at a terrible Souplantation-like restaurant (the only bad meal in Italy!), got our last gelato of the trip, and then headed back to the train station, where we would catch a bus to Malpensa airport.
Vittorio Emanuele II shopping center, full of stores that are way out of my price range, like Gucci, Prada, etc.
Because our flight was super early the next morning (and we’re stingy college students who didn’t want to pay for another night in a hostel), our plan was to spend the night at Malpensa airport. We had a bit of a panic when we realized the airport might close at night (some of the smaller airports in Europe do), and we didn’t want to spend hours outside the airport because it was so cold (“cold” to us back then was, like, 50 degrees Fahrenheit, which I now consider warm), but a guy working at an internet café told us it should be open, so all was fine. We took the bus there, camped out on some benches, and actually managed to get a pretty good night’s sleep. I’ve become such a pro at sleeping in weird places since coming to Spain, since getting that extra bit of sleep in while traveling is always important.
Me in my super comfortable bed.
Italy was wonderful, especially the first two days in Levanto and Cinque Terre. I love the country, people, language, and culture, and I’m really excited to go back to Italy (Bologna, Florence, and Venice) in a few weeks.