Sunday, December 19, 2010

Winter outside our window.. Il Poggio. Bellagio

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Day Before

UPdate:  We have a ton of people visiting in and around Bellagio, northern Italy from May 22nd to June 5th.
Two groups, splitting one week each, and planning on a "dream vacation."
The volcano in Iceland, the one with the funny name, is creating a "poop" load of trepidation, leading most of the travelers to check hourly, and daily updates with the airlines they booked, to give them hope that the giant ash cloud will not ruin any plans.
Most of us have been packing bits and pieces of clothing, hoping not to over stock our wardrobe.  No matter how many short or long trips we take, looking back, they're either to many pants, jackets, shoes, etc. and we jog our mind to figure out how to cope with rain, wind, heat and undergarments.
Packing light, one small suitcase, and backpack or carry-on will be the order of the day in my book.
Gonna keep checking with the airlines, see if their are cancellations, delays, get to the airport three 3 hours early, and pray we get the first and second leg of our trip completed.
Hopefully, sleeping on the plane will take care of the glare and tired eyes that seem to be the result of jet lag.
Can't wait for a bowl of pasta and a nice glass of wine. 
Kathy, Rocco, Nick and Mike.....looking forward to a great time.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Beware of Mosquitoes-Bring Repellent!

My Friend currently visiting Italy reminds
When I arrived at home late last night, I threw open the doors to the deck for a last night cap when I was attacked by a battalion of those famed “no see um” Italian mosquitoes that take hunks out of every conceivable piece of flesh not covered by insect repellent, which, of couse, I forgot to put on.
These guys are different from their American counterparts: They appear last at night and just Kamikazee on you like crazy.
They are stealth mosquitoes too. Silent. Undetected. Two thousand years of evolution. They specialize in big American guys just returning from Naxos. They hit and run before the brain registers the bite.
Today I prepare. I will buy some netting and put it around my deck. If that doesn’t work, I will buy a blow torch, a hammer, maybe even a wet suit.
I am American you know from New England. Yankee ingenuity. I will teach them.

Euro Flight Update for Wednesday May 12

12 May 2010
As of 10.00 CET on 12 May 2010, EUROCONTROL has the following update to make with regard to the situation of air traffic in Europe:
Today EUROCONTROL expects normal amounts of traffic across Europe.
The areas of high ash concentration at high altitude which had caused major difficulties in recent days over the Atlantic and the Iberian Peninsula dispersed during the night.
Areas of high ash concentration at lower altitudes are still causing some difficulties for trans-Atlantic flights. They are also affecting Madeira and the Azores. Areas of high ash concentration at lower altitudes, which could result in airport closures, are currently found in the Mediterranean between the Spanish mainland and the Balearic Islands, and are moving north east. At the current time all airports are available, however with the Balearic Islands airports operating at reduced capacity.
According to the forecasts, the areas of higher ash concentration are expected to dissipate further during the day. The latest ‘Air Ash Concentration Charts’ describing those areas where no-fly zone proposals have been made to the EUROCONTROL Member States are attached.
On Tuesday 11 May, there were 27,807 flights within the EUROCONTROL CFMU area, which is approximately 500 below normal traffic levels.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Euro Flight Update for Tuesday

Update on European air traffic situation - 10.30 CET

11 May 2010
As of 10.30 CET on 11 May 2010, EUROCONTROL has the following update to make with regard to the situation of air traffic in Europe:
Today EUROCONTROL expects approximately 29,000 flights within the European area which is close to normal for a Tuesday at this time of year.
Areas of high ash concentration are this morning impacting southern and central Spain and Portugal including the Canary Islands and Madeira. The areas of high ash concentration on high altitudes in the middle of the North Atlantic is dispersing, easing the previously difficult situation for Trans Atlantic flights.
At the current time airports on the Canary Islands, some in south-west Spain and some in Morocco are closed. According to the forecasts, during the afternoon, areas of higher ash concentration could move in a north-easterly direction cutting across the Iberian Iberian Peninsula and into south east France. These areas are of high altitude and are not expected to impact airports. The latest ‘Air Ash Concentration Charts’, valid at 14.00CET describing those areas where no-fly zone proposals have been made to the EUROCONTROL Member States are attached.
On Monday 10 May, there were 29,155 flights within the EUROCONTROL CFMU area, which is not far from normal traffic levels.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Euro Plane Traffic Monday May 10

Update on European air traffic situation - 10.00 CET

10 May 2010

As of 10.00 CET on 10 May 2010, EUROCONTROL has the following update to make with regard to the situation of air traffic in Europe:
Today EUROCONTROL expects approximately 28,500 flights within the European area which is about 500 below average for a Monday at this time of year.
Areas of high ash concentration have dispersed overnight over continental Europe. There is an area of ash cloud in the middle of the North Atlantic which is impacting transatlantic flights. While most of these flights are operating, many are having to make significant reroutings to avoid the area of ash cloud coverage, resulting in delays.
At the current time no airports are closed in Europe. According to the forecasts, during the afternoon, areas of higher ash concentration could move in a north-easterly direction from the Atlantic into the Iberian Peninsula. The latest ‘Air Ash Concentration Charts’, valid at 14.00CET describing those areas where no-fly zone proposals have been made to the EUROCONTROL Member States are attached.
On Sunday 9 May, there were 23,491 flights within the EUROCONTROL CFMU area, which is about 1,500 below normal traffic levels.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Euro could reach 1.20 soon

Sun May 9, 6:58 AM

BERLIN (AFP) - Battered by the Greek fiscal crisis, the euro could weaken to the point of parity with the US dollar, a top German economist said Sunday, as others warned of inflation in Europe's biggest economy.
"As long as uncertainty over Greece and other countries on the periphery of the euro area continues, the euro will remain under pressure," Thomas Mayer, chief economist at Deutsche Bank, told the Bild am Sonntag weekly.
"I think we could soon see 1.20 against the dollar and a further decline in the direction of parity is definitely possible," added Mayer.
On Friday, as volatile markets closed for the week, the euro fetched 1.2755 dollars as investors warned that failure to nail down a credible rescue plan at Sunday's meeting of EU finance ministers could pressure the euro even more.

Eurocontrol, latest news on Airtravel over Europe

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Trip Planning Around Lake Como

Eating in Lombardy Region of Italy

Food and Wine The Lombardy Region

Lombard cuisine includes lots of rice, vegetables and cheese, with long cooking times and often single dishes. Polenta reigns in the kitchen. Risotto, such as the dish “Risotto alla Milanese” is also renowned, as are pasta with fillings, such as Casonsei from Bergamo and Brescia, Marubin from Cremona or pumpkin ravioli from Mantova. Valtellina is home to Pizzoccheri, pasta made from buckwheat. Meat dishes include the famous Milanese fillet (covered in breadcrumbs and fried), but stew and game are also traditional dishes. One of Lombardy’s most symbolic dishes has to be Casöla, a rich stew with cabbage and pork.
Cold cuts have ancient aromas and flavors: Cotechino, pork meat that requires some cooking, Brianza salami, Varzi salami, Cremona salami, goose salami from Mortara, Violino di Capra from Valchiavenna and the famous Bresaola from Valtellina, made from seasoned beef thigh.
Cheese produced in Lombardy is synonymous with high quality. Each area has its own little gem: Casera and Bitto from Valtellina, Provolone, Grana and fresh Crescenza from Valpadana, Quartirolo, Bagoss, Formai de Mut and Taleggio from the valleys around Bergamo and Brescia, not to mention one of the most famous Italian cheeses, Gorgonzola.
Wine from Lombardy boasts an ancient tradition and is produced in three main areas. Franciacorta, an area between Bergamo and Brescia, which produces excellent white and red wines, as well as the most famous Italian sparkling wine: Franciacorta DOCG. Oltrepò Pavese is a hillside area south of Pavia where 16 white and red DOC wines are produced, lying among the old villages and castles. Lastly, Valtellina produces great red wines such as Valtellina Superiore or vintage “Sfursat”. The area is famous for its cultivation of vineyards on terraced land supported by stones that cling to the steep slopes.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Trains Milan to Lake Como

Trains from Milan to Lake Como
Trains from Milan to Lake Como run regularly from Milan Centrale and Porta Garibaldi train stations to\Lake Como San Giovanni train station.
Trains leave Milan Centrale and Porta Garibaldi train stations for Lake Como San Giovanni train station several times an hour. Trains from Lake Como to Milan return at similar intervals.
The total train time from Milan to Lake Como ranges from 33 minutes to 1h4m, depending on what train you take.
The cost of a one-way train ticket from Milan to Lake Como can be as low as 3.60 EUR for standard class on slow trains and 7.50 EUR for standard class on fast trains, but can be more expensive if you book close to the day of travel.

Lake Como Ferry Scenic Route

When visiting Lake Como, one of the best ways to see the lake is to take a Lake Como ferry.
Lake Como ferry boats stop at all major towns on Lake Como, including favorites like Como, Bellagio and Tremezzo (for Villa Carlotta).
There are several different kinds of Lake Como ferry services, including slow boats, express boats, and boats that only run on certain days and times.
Lake Como ferry boats run regularly throughout the day. Schedules can be picked up at any ferry ticket office.
Some ferry offices also have information desks where you can speak to a representative to get more information about Lake Como ferry departure and arrival times, ticket prices, and other information.
Lake Como ferry prices depend on where you are going. For some ferries, like the ferry from Como to Bellagio, you must buy one way tickets each way if you take the express ferry. These ferry tickets cost 11.70 EUR one way.
You must also pay a 1 EUR surcharge if you purchase your Lake Como ferry ticket on board the ferry, so it’s best to purchase tickets at the ticket office in advance.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Milan Airport Opens

The Enac has ordered the reopening of the entire airspace with effect from 12: 00 on Tuesday, 20 April (Italian time), having removed the limitation which authorised to flight the only domestic air routes. Therefore from across the country, including the North of Italy, will be restored schedule flights to any destination, international and intercontinental (es. Asia, North and South America, Africa, southern Europe). Will be excluded from the restore links only airports in Northern Europe still closed, for which you will have to wait for the decisions of local civil aviation authority. The Enac confirms that the reopening of airspace Italian will continue to be accompanied by constant technical monitoring of aircraft, according to strict criteria of safety.

SEA recommends all departing passengers, before arriving at the airport, contact their airline to have information on the conditions of their flight.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Re: Train Help Venice to Bellagio

Re: Train Help Venice to Bellagio

There are two ways of getting from Venice to Bellagio.
(1) Take a train to Como, then either bus or ferry to Bellagio.
 (2) Take a train to Varenna, then the short ferry ride to Bellagio. In both cases, you have to change trains in Milan.
There is no need to book in advance: buy the tickets in Italy.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bellagio Side Trip Worth Taking

Bergamo (Berghem in Lombard) is a town in Lombardy, Italy, about 40km northeast of Milan. The commune is home to around 117,000 inhabitants. It is served by the Orio al Serio International Airport, which also serves the Province of Bergamo, and to a lesser extent Milan. The foothills of the Alps begin immediately north of the town.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

FYI Getting there and General Info Bellagio "Copy That!"


From Bergamo take direction Lecco and then Bellagio
From Milano Linate take direction Lecco and then Bellagio
From Milano Malpensa may be to go to Como and then Bellagio ( even if I always
advice to go trhough Lecco due to the better road)
Coming from Lecco on the right shore of the lake overcome:
Onno – Oliveto Lario –
When you arrive to see indication : BELLAGIO
At the first roundabout take direction: Erba e Guello.
After 100 mt you will see a church – if you continue you will find via Suira number
Please go till the end of the road and you will find a fenced property
Tel to call: Francesca at: 0039/335/7118943 or 0039 / 347/1361449 -
EUROS : €1500 - To be refunded at the end of the stay
 We will have 15 people the first week and 13 the second week. Each week we would like
DATES: Rental time: 22 may 5 june 2010
ARRIVAL DETAILS : 22 may 2010
Rental 14 overnights, Water gas electricity , final cleanings: paied
Bed Sheets and Towels: provided at the beginning of the stay
HEATING: included
Please let us know for dinners in advance if you like to book them
Pre payment 2 dinners received: : 500 euros to be balanced on place plus food bills
CHECK IN: after 16.00 p.m. before 20 p.m. : 22 may 2010

CHECK OUT: before 10.00 a.m. 29 may 2010

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Travel Tips From Women


1. My mom always says bring your swimsuit and one easy outfit in your carry on so you won't lose a vacation day if checked bags are lost - Lindsay
2. If you are traveling with someone else, pack a few things in their luggage and a few of their things in your luggage. Then, if God forbid, one of you loses your luggage, you will still have some things to wear. - Leslie
3. Bring your children with you on trips. They get to experience the world in a new and exciting way. You will teach them to have a love for both travel and adventure, and you'll get to see them learning about the world and new places. It's almost like experiencing things again yourself for the first time. What is more beautiful than that? - Michelle
4. Throw out any leftover shampoo, hand lotion etc when going home. This leaves room for souvenirs that you haven't shipped home. - Judy
5. When I travel alone I wear a fake engagement ring and wedding band on my ring finger. It helps keep away unwanted attention. - Jen
6. Be spontaneous. When you're spontaneous, sometimes great things happen, and sometimes not so good things happen, but if you've got a good sense of humor the bad times can leave the best (funniest) memories. - Susan
7. Don't stress! Besides doing some research before you go about what is available (i.e., sailing, snorkeling, hiking tours, etc.) go without much of an agenda at all, except to have FUN! - Julia
8. Make an effort to go somewhere every other month. Even if it's a 2-3 hour road trip away from home. Work gets monotonous and I need to get a dose of the "travel bug" every now and then to keep things interesting. - Marena
9. Pack an amazing convertible dress like the American Apparel Cotton Jersey Bandeau Dress - $43 . It's space-saving magic - Gina
10. I email myself AND my mother a copy of my passport, my itinerary, and the international phone numbers for my credit cards. If I can't get online, I know I can call my mum should anything get stolen. - Morgan


Normally we don't repeat stories that are flat-out wrong -- unless, of course, they fulfill some sort of dreamy celebrity fantasy we have, and we think it'd be really cool if they were true.

Which is why we'd like to make it quite clear that George Clooney did NOT buy girlfriend Elisabetta Canalis an island off Italy's Lake Como, no matter what OK! magazine reported. Not, no, didn't, nuh-uh. We thank Gossip Cop for doing the legwork so that we can run this nice pic of the couple together in the rain on the Golden Globes red carpet.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Milan to Lake Como Train, Bus, Car

Getting There -- By Train --
One to three trains hourly connect Milan and Como's Stazione San Giovanni on Piazzale San Gottardo (regional: from Milan's Piazza Garibaldi station, 55-60 min.; high-speed: from Milan's Stazione Centrale station, 40 min.).

Visitor Information -- The regional tourist office dispenses a wealth of information on hotels, restaurants, and campgrounds around the lake from its offices at Piazza Cavour 17 (tel. 031-269-712 or 031-264-215; It's open daily 9am to 1pm and 2 to 5pm (sometimes closed Sun in winter). There is also a city tourist office in a little trailer that has moved around a bit since it opened in 2000, but it stays near Piazza del Duomo and seems to have settled on a spot along Via Maestri Comacini around the right side of the cathedral (tel. 031-337-1063). It's open Monday to Friday 10am to 12:30pm and 2:30 to 6pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am to 6pm.
Bellagio & the Central Lake Region
By far the loveliest spot on the lake (and where travelers should definitely set their sights) is the section known as the Centro Lago. Three towns -- Bellagio, Varenna, and Menaggio -- sit across the water from one another on three different shorelines.
Getting There & Getting Around -- By Train -- The closest train stations to Bellagio and the other Central Lake towns are in Como -- from which you can continue by bus or boat -- or, more conveniently, in Varenna, with trains hourly to Milan (about 70 min.). If you're planning to leave the central part of the lake after dinner, the 10:30pm train from Varenna to Milan (with an hour stopover in Lecco) will be your last chance to do so. Tip: The ticket window at Varenna's station is rarely, if ever, open, and the automatic ticket machine has been broken for at least 6 years. Get on without a ticket, and in the rare case that a ticket collector appears, explain that you got on in Varenna, and you will pay a regular price ticket on board.
By Boat -- From Como, boats stop first at Bellagio: by ferry 2 hours; by hydrofoil 35 to 45 minutes. They continue on to Menaggio: by ferry, another 15 minutes; by hydrofoil, another 5 minutes. About half the boats then stop in Varenna as well (plus there are about two dozen short-haul ferries each from Bellagio and Menaggio to Varenna): by ferry, another 10 minutes; by hydrofoil, another 5 minutes. You can also get day passes good for just the central lake or for the whole lake.
Many of the ferries carry cars for an additional fee. Schedules vary with the season, but from Easter through September a ferry or hydrofoil makes the trip from Como to Bellagio and other towns along the lake at least hourly. For more information, contact Navigazione Lago di Como (tel. 800-551-801 or 031-579-211); the office is on the lakefront in Como on Lungo Lario Trieste.
By Bus -- One to three SPT buses (tel. 031-304-744) per hour travel from Como to Bellagio (a little more than 1 hr.). Hourly buses to Menaggio take a little more than an hour. Buses leave Como from in front of the main train station; get tickets at the bar inside.
By Car -- Bellagio is connected to Como by a picturesque lakeshore road, S583, which can be very crowded in summer. The A9 links Como with Milan in about an hour. To reach Menaggio from Como, follow route S340 along the western shore of the lake. For Varenna, follow S342 to Nibionno, a speck of a town where it intersects with S36, which runs north through industrialized Lecco and then along the lake's eastern shore. All these roads tend to be crowded, especially on weekends and in summer, so allow at least an hour of traveling time.
Bellagio is at the tip of the peninsula at a point where the lake forks into three distinct basins: One long leg sweeps north into the Alps, Como is at the southern end of the western leg, and Lecco is at the southern end of the eastern leg. Boats from Bellagio make it easy to visit the nearby shores of the Centro Lago -- not that you'll be in a great hurry to leave this pretty old town, with its steep narrow streets, lakeside piazza, and beautiful gardens.
Festivals & Markets -- A pleasant way to spend a summer evening in Bellagio is at one of the concerts held in the Chiesa di Cappuccini, on the grounds of the Rockefeller Foundation between June and July. Bellagio's outdoor market fills the waterfront every third Wednesday of the month.
Visitor Information -- The Bellagio tourist office is at Piazza d. Chiesa 14 (tel./fax 031-950-204; Its hours are Monday and Wednesday to Saturday from 9am to noon and 3 to 6pm, Tuesday and Sunday from 10:30am to 12:30pm and 3:30 to 5:30pm.
You can happily spend some time clambering up and down the steep steps that substitute for streets in this charming village (on the eastern shore of the lake, about 20 min. by ferry from Bellagio) that until not too long ago made its living by fishing. The main attractions, though, are outside town.
The hilltop ruins of the Castello di Vezio (tel. 0341-831-000) are about a 20-minute walk above the town on a gradually ascending path. The main reason for a visit is to enjoy the stunning views of the lake, its shoreline villages, and the backdrop of mountains at the northern end. May to June the castle is open daily 10am to 6pm, July to September 11am to 8pm; admission is 1€ ($1.30).
The gardens of the Villa Monastero (tel. 0341-830-129) are more easily accessible, at the southern edge of town along Via 4 Novembre, and you can reach them by following the series of lakeside promenades through the Old Town from the ferry landing. This villa and the terraced gardens that rise up from the lakeshore were once a not-so-spartan monastery -- until it was dissolved in the late 17th century when the nuns in residence began bearing living proof that they were on too-friendly terms with the priests across the way. If you find it hard to tear yourself from the bowers of citrus trees and rhododendrons clinging to terraces, you'll find equally enchanting surroundings in the adjoining gardens of the Villa Cipressi (tel. 0341-830-113).
Both gardens are open daily March to October: Villa Monastero 10am to 7pm and Villa Cipressi 9am to 7pm. Admission is 2€ ($2.60) for adults (1.30€/$1.70 for children under 10 and seniors over 60) to just one garden, 3.50€ ($4.55) adults (2.50€/$3.25 kids and seniors) to visit both. Call tel. 0341-830-113 for more details.
In season, ferries make the 20-minute run between Bellagio and Varenna about every half-hour. There's a tiny tourist office at Piazza Venini, 1 (tel. 0341-830-367;, open Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 12:30pm and Tuesday to Saturday 3 to 6pm.
This lively resort town hugs the western shore of the lake, across from Bellagio on its peninsula and Varenna on the distant shore. Hikers should stop in at the tourist office on Piazza Garibaldi 8 (tel./fax 0344-32-924;, open Monday to Saturday 9am to noon and 3 to 6pm (July-Aug also Sun 7:30am-6:30pm). The very helpful staff distributes a booklet, Hiking in the Area around Menaggio, with descriptions of more than a dozen walks, with maps and instructions on what buses to take to trail heads. The town's bus stop is at Piazza Garibaldi (Sun on Via Mazzini); tickets are sold at Bar Centrale or the newsstand on Via Calvi at the piazza.
The major nearby attraction is about 2.5km (1 1/2 miles) south of town: The Villa Carlotta (tel. 0344-40-405; is the most famous villa on the lake and was begun in 1643 for the Marquis Giorgio Clerici, who made his fortune supplying Napoleon's troops with uniforms; he spent much of it on this neoclassical villa and gardens. After a succession of owners, including Prussian royalty who lavished their funds and attention on the gardens, the villa is now in the hands of the Italian government. It's filled with romantic paintings, statues by Canova and his imitators, and Empire furnishings, but the gardens are the main attraction, with azaleas, orchids, banana trees, cacti, palms, and forests of ferns spreading in all directions. You can take the no. C10 bus from Menaggio or walk along the lake (about 30-45 min.). The nearest ferry landing is at Cadenabbia, just north of the gardens, though ferries to Menaggio are more frequent. The villa and gardens are open daily March through October from 9am to 4:30pm (the villa is closed from noon to 2pm), and April through September from 9am to 6pm. Admission is 7.50€ ($9.75) for adults and 3.75€ ($5) for seniors over 65 and students.

Places to Visit Lake Como Area

For centuries, Lake Como has inspired poets, authors, and composers. The deep arctic lake with its Alpine backdrop has cast a spell on Da Vinci, Toscanini, Edith Wharton and and Mark Twain, Churchill and King Farouk. Now, locally-beloved resident George Clooney calls Laglio home, and he provides a firmament of new celebrities. ‘Million dollar views’ is an understatement. Lakeside villas are said to be valued at up to one hundred million dollars.
Lake Como’s temperate climate allows pines and palms to co-exist. Forget clever off-season strategies. Many places, even large hotels, are closed November through March. If you love gardens, go in April or May when the rhododendrons, azaleas, and camellias bloom. Roses, oleanders, and hydrangeas follow in June.
Town-hopping is the main activity of Lake Como, by ferry, hydrofoil, or private yacht. Only thrill-seekers or the naïve attempt to drive the narrow cliffside roads. Watch your timing. This is not a small lake. The ferry from Como to Bellagio takes four hours round-trip. Even by hydrofoil it takes 45 minutes each way. Bellagio to Varenna is a twenty-minute ride, and boats do not run constantly, so pay attention to the schedule as well. Even with a decent capacity for speaking and understanding Italian, it can be tricky to understand which boats go where, and when.
Here is a review of the highlights of Lake Como:
Old World elegance is evident in Bellagio’s arcaded lakeside piazza where you can stroll, enjoy the scenery and shop at the same time. If you aren’t able to stay at the glorious Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, dine at its glass-enclosed formal restaurant that seems to sit out on the lake. For what some say is the best cappuccino in Italy, find Pasticceria Sport on Piazza della Chiesa. Bar Café Rossi, in the arcade directly in front of the ferry dock, has good breakfast and lunch items. This may be one place you’ll want to sit indoors, to enjoy the incredible detail of the Art Nouveau dining room. Bellagio residents say it’s a shame that tourists don’t usually take the 15-minute drive to Chevrio to dine at Trattoria Baita Belvedere, a great restaurant with greater view. To enjoy other spectacular views with gardens, tour Villa Serbelloni, owned by the Rockefeller Foundation; and Villa Melzi, a magnificent private residence with a chapel, museum and park. If you miss your regular workouts, the Cavalcalario Club is a good source for all things active: horseback riding, paragliding, and a sport called canyoning that involves walking, jumping, swimming, and climbing, thankfully with trained guides.
Many come to Cernobbio to see or stay at its claim to fame: the legendary Grand Hotel Villa d’Este, built in 1568. Its ten acres of meticulously maintained gardens are only rivaled by the antique furnishings Napoleon might have brushed by. At Villa d’Este, many people overlook the Sporting Club; they think it ends with the fitness center and spa, but if you love tennis, visit the tennis center and take a lesson from Giorgio, a wonderful instructor who has run the tennis center for many decades. Behind the courts is a great hiking trail. You slowly climb up the steep mountainside and take in absorbing views all along the way.
Just outside the gates of Villa d’Este, join the locals for breakfast at Polletti, where they start baking each day at 4 a.m. The smells waft through the air until the morning rush that starts around 9:30. For lunch or take-out for a picnic, regulars recommend nearby La Piazzetta. For good family style dinners, go to La Posta, in Moltrasio, a bit north along the shore. Signor Armando and Signora Rosella are multilingual, wonderful hosts and the food is truly home-made. If pizza is your thing, the best pies in northern Italy are said to come out of the oven at Pizzeria Tennis Club Tre Vigne, a small tennis club in Tavernola, and inland town between Cernobbio and Como.
The largest city on the lake, at its southern point and less than an hour from Milan, Como is the main entrance for many travelers who arrive by train, bus, and car. Characterized as commercial and industrial, it was scrubbed clean for its recent 700th birthday. Como’s must-see church is the cathedral in Piazza del Duomo, with its rose window, ornate doors, and statues of two native sons, Pliny the Elder and his nephew Pliny the Younger. The Duomo is cited as the best example of transitional architecture, began in the 14th century and finished in the 17th, a Gothic façade with an18th-century dome. If you keep hearing about hiking up the mountains but don’t have the heart, or feet, for it, take a ride on the Brunate Funicular Railway from Como. From the main square, Piazza Cavour, you can see villas, a funicular, a neoclassical rotunda, and Cernobbio. A walk along the water under shade trees leads to the public gardens at Villa Olmo.
All the guide books list Il Gatto Nero as Lake Como’s great restaurant for celebrity-spotting, and it can be, but a truly special dining experience is Como’s Il Navedano. It is run by a couple that pays as much attention to the food as they do to the floral decorations. You’ll think you’re dining in a botanical garden.
There’s a great beach at the north end of town, and one of Italy’s best-known golf courses, the Menaggio and Cadenebbia Golf Club, has one of the best stocked golf libraries in the world.
The sunniest spot on the Lake is the town of Tremezzo, where the views are a draw, but it is best known for Villa Carlotta, built in the 18th century. Inside, there are beautiful ceiling frescoes and an impressive art collection; however, it’s the gardens that draw the crowds. More than 500 species of flowers, plants and trees from around the globe thrive here.
A nice day trip from Como or Bellagio is to Isola Comacina, the only island on the lake. You can hike to build up an appetite to dine at its one restaurant. The menu, a set menu, has been the same for almost 50 years. At the end of the meal, you get a history lesson from the owner, who rings a cowbell to get everyone’s attention.The entire lake and all its towns have their beauty, so wherever you end up, take a walk, sip some vino, and enjoy the view.
This entry was posted on Thursday, August 20th, 2009 at 1345 and is filed under Italian Lakes.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Luggage Finder

Using a luggage lock can add an extra layer of security, but it wont prevent the TSA from looking inside. They're specifically allowed to remove the locks from any bag that they want to search, so unless you have a TSA approved device it's going to get cut off. Why get a lock if the TSA can simply remove it at free will? Because it prevents access to other people (baggage handlers, ticket agents, etc) in the chain of operation. It's also a deterrent to anyone who sees your bag on the arrivals carousel at your destination airport.

Speaking of the arrivals carousel, there's no riskier place for your luggage to sit, so make sure you get to the beltway as soon as you can after your flight arrives -- any random straggler can pick up your bags and wander off if they're not picked up immediately.
To that end, make sure that your bags have distinctive features with which you can track them. We're not saying that you have to get a hot pink leopard print roll-aboard, but a colored sash or a unique baggage tag will help you identify your bag on the carousel, in a thief's hands or to a wayward airline agent.
Another piece of data that will help keep track of your luggage is the baggage receipt. When the ticket agent at the departure airport prints out the sticker that will be attached to your bag, he or she will also print out a receipt that will often be attached to your boarding pass (or its jacket.) Hold onto this -- airline representatives can use it to track your bag.While you're in the process of filing away your receipt at the ticket counter, by the way, make sure to look over the shoulder of the ticket agent to check the destination of your bag. It should be printed in large characters next to the bar code. Hint: if it says SJO and your actual destination is SJU, ask the agent to double check the route.
Naturally, many of these tips are rendered null if you opt to carry on your bags. In addition to saving a load of extra fees, your bags will travel by your side for the entire duration of your trip, drastically reducing any risk involved and saving a little bit of time to boot.
Either way, it's important to remember that baggage loss or theft happens to a minuscule volume of air travelers, less than 8 in 1000 on average. Keep those statistics in mind and use the above security tips, and at the very least, your mind will be more at ease.

Bellagio Video!/video/video.php?v=1152144263210&ref=nf

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bellagio and Lake Como Eating Habits

Luigi Corbetta sent a message to the members of Lake of Como.

Luigi CorbettaMarch 21, 2010 Eating in Bellagio
The local cuisine is influenced by the structure of the territory and can therefore be divided into three main areas: firstly, the area around the lake, which predominates; secondly, the surrounding mountains and valleys, and finally Brianza, shifting between hills and plains.
Obviously, the lake cuisine is based on fish. Its most famous specialities are: “missultitt”, that is fish desiccated in special containers called “misolte”; soused fish, which is first fried and then pickled; crispy fresh water fish and other typical dishes like “risotto con pesce persico” (rice with perch) fillet and smoked trout in oil. On the lake shore, particularly in the area called “Tremezzina”, first quality vegetables like the asparagus from Rogano are grown.
You will also find some olive-groves producing an excellent oil, which now has unfortunately become quite a rarity.
In the valleys around the Lake you will find a “frugal” but genuine cuisine, based on polenta (corn-meal mush), “polenta taragna” (buckwheat mush) and “polenta cunscia” (with a characteristic garlic flavour), both cooked with butter and cheese; farmyard chicken, goat-kids bred mainly in the upper Lake and wild game. In addition, you will find choice trout and plenty of delicious mushrooms.
 “Home made” banner, from the savoury salami to some typical kinds of cheese like “semuda” or “zincherlin”.
In the part of Brianza that borders on the province of Milan, rich dishes such as “cazeula”, “busecca”, polenta with birds, spiced pork sausages with beans and typical cold cuts like “filzette” (long thin salami) and “cacciatorini” (short salami) prevail.
As to cakes, you can taste a typical pancake called “cotizza”, made with flour, milk, sugar and lemon peel, and the “Resta de Comm”, a sort of oblong panettone containing a well auguring olive branch.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Linguini Heaven!

Bruce Bradley, thanks for the recipe,
I broke down, bought clams, Kathy found linguini in the back of the kitchen cabinet and "shazam,"chopped carrots, mushrooms, peppers, garlic...gently mixed them in olive oil and butter, Everson Spices, added a cup full of Pinot Grigio, added the clams, while the linguini was waiting to boil....guess what....felt like we were in Bellagio.
Oh yes, we polished off a bottle of "Il Bosco" 2005.  Mikey better known as Rocco Colonna, Kathy my beautiful "live in" and me....Mr. Chef....for a brief hour visited the angels in heaven.  Grazie

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"Brush Up" on Day Trips from Bellagio

Italy Suggested Travel Itinerary - Milano and the Lakes Region to Venice by Train

Short trips to Italy's top historic cities of the North
Unlike many suggested itineraries, this section of northern Italy is packed with interesting cities; you'll spend less than two hours travel time between cities in our suggested itinerary of Northern Italy. The distance between Milan and Venice is a mere 175 miles or so, less than three hours train time, and if you follow all the steps of the suggested itinerary, you'll stop and experience four fabulous cities between the two. Use our clickable map to find information on any of the cities.
Northern Italy Map, Showing Milan to Venice Train Routes
The Travel Itinerary
You are most likely to fly into Milan Malpensa Airport. Malpensa is located northwest of Milan, and is actually closer to Lago Maggiore than central Milan. From Malpensa, you can take the shuttle to Milano Centrale train station (Malpensa Shuttle departs every twenty minutes from early morning to late at night) to start your journey or to find a hotel (there are many around the train station). If you're coming from the smaller Linate, which is east of Milan, you can take the shorter shuttle to Milano Centrale.
Brescia - (1 day) Brescia is often overlooked, but it's worth a night. From its Roman ruins to the civic museum inside the Monastery of Santa Giulia with its three churches, you might be surprised at Brescia's charm.
Verona - (2 days) known for Shakespeare's setting for Romeo and Giulietta, Verona has been called the Florence of the North for its art. Get tickets for anything at the 2000 year old Arena (but get them in advance) and rub the right breast of bronze Juliet for luck before heading to Vicenza.
Vicenza - (1 Day) Famous architect Palladio is from here--you can see his work in town and out.
Padua - (2 Days) One of my favorite smaller towns on this route, Padua is one of the prettiest cities in Italy, with the oldest botanical gardens in Europe. I sometimes stay in Padua and take day trips by train to Venice.
Venice - Everyone knows Venice. You could spend a month here, but I'd recommend 5 days minimum. Better to rent an apartment and stay a week, with day trips to Treviso or Ferrara. If you're on a budget and like peace and quiet, while still living in a city with canals, you might try staying in Treviso and taking the short train ride into Venice.
Getting back to Milan
The EuroStar Italia makes the journey from Venice Mestre station to Milano Centrale in two hours and 45 minutes or so, which is probably faster than a flight from Venice to Milan, considering the time to get to the airport and the hassles with luggage. If you still have some time left before your flight, you can take the train to Como or Stresa on Lago Maggiore in about an hour. Malpensa can be reached from Stresa.
Take the train from Stressa to the Gallarate station, then taxi or bus to the airport. Or, you can do the whole trip by "ALIBUS" which departs from Milan Malpensa Airport - Terminal 1 - bus stop number 12 every day.
Trenitalia has information on all state run trains in Italy. You can do this itinerary by buying point to point rail tickets along the way. Italian trains are fairly cheap, although the Eurostar Italia is a premium train--if you want to go fast you will pay a supplement and the required seat reservations. For more on riding Italian trains, see How to Travel on Italian Trains

Monday, March 8, 2010

Tuscan Steam Wine Tour

The effort of this group of retired Italian train officials continues to offer great destinations through discontinued (but well maintained!!) tracks that pass through unforgettable landscapes. You can see this landscapes through the Nature Train only, since no road passes by these unique lands.
There are many tours and many antique trains that take you to dream places and back in time. Some examples are steam engines from the 18th century, to the more recent diesel trains of the 1950s.
The expeditions with the diesel trains depart in May, June, September, and October and go through the line from Siena to Asciano, and then to Monte Antico (the leg from the Asciano to Monte Antico is the dismissed part). During these tours you will be able to enjoy visits to Etruscan sites, the natural park of Monte Labro, a Biosphere festival at Vivo d’Orcia, Radicofani Festival, Autimn Festival in Abbadia, Arcidosso and Vivo d’Orcia, the chestnut festival with local wine and other true Tuscan happenings.
The vintage trains also offer special trips from Siena to San Ugo d’Asso for the truffle festival in March.
In June the train from Siena goes to the Maremma Park to the sea.
In July the destination to Mount Amiata offers music on board.
September is the Etruscan train month.
December the Olive oil Festival train takes to San Quirico d’Orcia.
A “very specialest” train is the New Year train that takes to the Mount Amiata and includes the New Year’s eve dinner with typical mountain meat.
The steam trains offer in April a trip to Murlo, an antique Etruscan town, and to San Ugo d’Asso for the Pecorino cheese festival.
May is the occasion to celebrate agricolture with the train to Sant’Angelo Cinigiano; also in this month the steam festival and the Scialenga market in Asciano.
October brings the festival of grape harvest and barbecued pork meat, a tradition in rural Tuscany! Also not to be missed is the Chestnut festival in Casteldelpiano, where chestnuts are accompanied with novell wine.
November is the exquisite Truffle season.
To get more information about the exact dates and festivals combined with each trip, information on fares, schedules and itineraries, please call (0039) 0577 20 74 17, or the mobile number (0039) 338 8992577, or visit the website
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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Milan to Lake Como...Rick Steves

Milan offers perhaps the most enjoyable look at modern, urban Italy. Its Duomo Museum, which gives meaning to Milan's richly ornamented cathedral, is scheduled to reopen sometime this year after a long restoration (

Northeastern Italy's rugged yet accessible slice of the Alps, called the Dolomites, just got easier to experience. A new, faster cable car dangles above the gateway city of Bolzano to take you to scenic Oberbozen and its Bryce Canyon-like pinnacles.
A free shuttle bus links my favorite home base in the Dolomites, Castelrotto, with the high Alpine meadowland called Alpi di Siusi, which has its own cable car that lifts hikers even higher. To keep cars from marring the landscape, Castelrotto has two new underground parking lots; one is in front of the bus station.
Italy's Riviera — at least the five remote villages of the Cinque Terre that are now protected as a national park — is more welcoming than ever. While hoteliers in this popular region near Genoa are notorious for artificially bumping up prices, travelers have more negotiating power now due to the economic downturn. Shop around before you commit to a room. The Cinque Terre Card, which covers a day of hiking in the region's national park, now also includes a free three-hour bike rental; bikes are available through tourist offices in the towns of Riomaggiore and Vernazza. For many years there was no place to check your luggage, but now you can store bags at the national park's kiosk at Riomaggiore's train station. A new hostel is open in Corniglia's former schoolhouse, offering bright and clean rooms in the least touristy and most remote of the five towns.
Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis, is notoriously congested with cars and tour buses, but it just got easier to park your car at the edge of town. The Parking Mojano lot, while below the old town, now comes with an escalator that transports you nearly to the Basilica of St. Clare. It's a blessing.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A good glass of wine

To paraphrase W.C. Fields, "I don't drink water, because fish screw in it." To my friends who enjoy a glass of wine.... and those who don't...As Ben Franklin said: In wine there is wisdom, In beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria. In a number of carefully controlled trials, scientists have demonstrated that if we drink 1 liter of water each day, at the end of the year we would have absorbed more than 1 kilo of Escherichia coli, (E. coli) - bacteria found in feces. In other words, we are consuming 1 kilo of poop.. However, we do NOT run that risk when drinking wine & beer (or tequila, rum, whiskey or other liquor) because alcohol has to go through a purification process of boiling, filtering and/or fermenting.
Water = Poop,
Wine = Health
Therefore, it's better to drink wine and talk stupid,
than to drink water and be full of shit.

There is no need to thank me for this valuable information: I'm doing it as a public service!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pigs - Italian Style

The Three Little Pigs - Italian Style

Once upon a time there were three little pigs. The straw pig, the stick pig and the brick pig.
One day this nasty old wolf came up to the straw pig's house and said, "I'm gonna huff and puff and blow your house down." And he did !!!

So the straw pig went running over to the stick pig's house and said, "Please; let me in, the wolf just blew down my house." So the stick Pig let the straw pig in.
Just then the wolf showed up and said, "I'm gonna huff and puff and blow your house down." And he did !!!

So the straw pig and the stick pig went running over to the brick pig's house and said, "Let us in, let us in, the big bad wolf just blew our houses down!"
So the brick pig let them in just as the wolf showed up The wolf said, "I'm gonna huff and puff and blow your house down." The straw pig and the stick pig were so scared! But the brick pig picked up the phone and made a call.

A few minutes passed and a big, black Caddy pulls up.

Out step two massive pigs in pin striped suits and fedora hats. These pigs come over to the wolf, grab him by the neck and beat the living shit out of him, then one of them pulled out a gun, stuck it in his mouth and fired, killing the wolf, then they tied cement blocks around his feet threw his sorry ass into the creek then they got back into their Caddy and drove off.

The straw pig and stick pig were amazed!!! "Who the hell were those guys?" they asked.
"Those were my cousins... the Guinea Pigs"

Monday, February 8, 2010

Northern Italy renown for Wine!

Venice's region has emerged in recent times as Italy's largest producer of wine with a major share classified as (more than 300 million bottles a year). Leading the flow is Verona's trio of Soave, Valpolicella and Bardolino. But since DOC represents less than a third of the region's total, the Veneto also figures as a major producer and exporter of IGT wines, often of moderate price.

The Veneto has three general areas of premium wine production: the western province of Verona in the hills between Lake Garda and the town of Soave; the central hills in the provinces of Vicenza, Padova and Treviso; the eastern plains of the Piave and Tagliamento river basins along the Adriatic coast.

The Lakes Region