Sunday, 2 November 2014

A Weekend In Italy


Last month I travelled to Italy for a four day stay on the beautiful Lake Maggiore, the second largest of the Italian lakes. It was my first ever visit to Italy and my god was I excited! Ever since I first watched Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday it's been a country I've always longed to visit and I definitely wasn't disappointed!  It has to be one of the most beautiful places I've ever been! There's just something about it, I think it's a mix of the history, the culture and the language which creates somewhere that's totally enchanting yet doesn't seem quite real.

We were incredibly lucky with the weather during our visit as with it's close proximity to the alps it tends to be a bit hit or miss around this time of the year. Fortunately it was around 23 degrees celsius each day and warm enough to sit outside of the restaurants during the evening. The beautiful clear skies also meant that I got some great shots of the Borromean Islands which are just off the shore between the towns of Verbania and Stresa. 



A short boat ride took us out to each island, Isola Bella, Isola Madre, Isola dei Pescatori and Isolino di San Giovanni. I think we paid around 10 euros for a boat ride which took us round all the islands giving us an hour to explore on each one. That might not sound like much time but considering it took literally 5-10 mins to casually stroll from one end to the other on each island, believe me it was plenty! There was a gorgeous English style palace on one of the islands that unfortunately was closed off to the public as well as plenty of little stalls selling knick knacks on the rest of the islands and lots of lovely restaurants to have lunch and amazing photo opportunities.



We decided to forgo the busy restaurants and grab some lunch from a little delicatessen to eat on the harbour front. Unfortunately because of the language barrier we ended up with two half loaves of dry bread with a huge chunk of cheese stuck in the middle for our sandwiches! Mental note: learn some basic Italian other than how to say 'Hello' and 'Goodbye' before your next visit!


We stayed in an apartment in Arona which was only about a half hour drive from Milan Malpensa Airport and made a great base to explore that part of Lake Maggiore. A 20 minute drive further north took us to some really beautiful towns with the most incredible views over the lake. I ended up taking  loads of photos everywhere we went but unfortunately because the sun was so bright most of them ended being so over exposed and therefore useless! 


On the last day we decided to go up to the Rocca di Angera, an 11th century castle situated high up on a hill above the town of Angera. It had the most beautiful views but again all of the pictures I took of the castle were too over exposed so you'll just have to google it to see for yourself. We didn't really know anything about the place before we visited, we thought we'd just be able to wonder round inside as well as the grounds of the castle. Turns out it's actually one of the largest dolls museums in Europe! There were dolls everywhere, thousands of them staring out at you from behind the glass and I freaked out big time! I've had a huge fear of dolls for as long as I can remember (except Barbie's obviously!) but a particular memory has stayed with me of a ventriloquists dummy a magician brought along with him to my sixth birthday party. It ended up with me running out of the room and refusing to go back inside thus missing half the party!

It's safe to say we didn't really stick around the castle for long but don't let me put you off, if you don't happen to have a silly fear of dolls like I do then it would be a great place to explore!

I'm already planning a trip back to next year, hopefully to southern Italy. Pompeii especially is one place I've always wanted to visit and the Amalfi Coast looks beautiful too. Have any of you guys visited or maybe live in Italy and have some suggestions on where I should visit next? Let me know below!

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