Saturday, June 13, 2015

Ciao! Day 1 (Lake Como)

We found ourselves in Italy today!  I say ‘found’ as we were so busy with the day-to-day leading up to this trip, that even as we flew Chicago to Toronto for our connecting flight, we all remained pretty “chillax” (as Lily would say).  It wasn’t until we boarded the plane to Italy, with 9 luxurious hours of independent TVs, free meals with wine, and had all announcements by the flight crew presented in both English and Italian that it began to sink in – the beginning of 6 glorious weeks in one of my favorite places on earth (proper exclusions of South Bend apply J)

We arrived in Milan fast asleep, which made for an interesting exit from the plane that was full of tummy aches, accompanied by whining for being carried (I told Corey he is much too heavy) and for needing cold water.  Next we decided to get our first trip vomit out of the way early – as in 'before we clear customs early' – as Lily sat on the floor outside of the restroom waiting for the others.  I suggested she eat the banana bread they served on the plane that I brought for her in my bag, only to realize my bag was still on the plane in one of the two rows we occupied!  Back I ran.  Doors sealed shut.  The comedic exchange that followed between myself and two lovely janitors was very entertaining, as neither of us could speak a word of the other’s language.  As we gestured wildly with one another, increasingly slowing the cadence and increasing the volume of our dialogue, as if this act alone would somehow help us to suddenly understand the foreign words coming out of one anothers mouths, three stewardesses debarked from an elevator near the sealed doors of the gate where my plane set.  While none of the three were from our Air Canada flight, they chatted amongst themselves before one offered to go back upstairs and see what she could do.  She returned about 10 minutes later, bag in hand.  I wanted to kiss her.  Off I ran to find my motley crew camped out in the large, cavernous and empty space before passing into customs.  Lily ate banana bread and felt better, our luggage patiently went round and round the conveyor belt – all 4 bags of it – until we arrived, and we made it to the inefficient rental car service where we waited for an hour for our car.  It wasn’t until we prepared to leave for dinner later in the evening that Lily realized her iPhone (one of our OLD ones she uses for music) was still on the plane.

We loaded up and were off.  Kind of.  The GPS was not connecting.  Luckily I brought along a map from a previous trip 15 years ago, AND remembered how to use a map!, and was able to convince Corey I could get us there.  I did get us to the right freeway, and the GPS kicked in. All was well.  We stopped at one of the petrol stations with a full deli and café bar that rivals our best deli and coffee house for a caprese sandwhich pressed in the panini maker, a chocolate croissant, and une café macchiato.  Yum.

We arrived in Lake Como 45 minutes later.  The views more breathtaking than I remember.  Caden remarked how his buddy Cole, who just returned from Italy with his LaCross coach mom and team, said that Cole was right.  Italy is beautiful.  Lily declared she was going to move her when she got big and Gia and I both promised to live with her.  I told Caden about the trend of ‘momma’s boys’ in Italy, where the population growth has slowed since boys are marrying later as they are living with their moms well into their 30s. Caden smiled and said he wanted to do that.  One more reason I love Italy!  All good so far from where I was sittingJ  This is why we travel!  The kids sang their own rendition, organized by Lily, of ‘I think I’m gonna like it here’ from Annie the rest of the drive.

We parked in Brienno at the foot of this amazing church and hiked into town to check in to our first of 9 rentals this trip.  As we walked our host Daniel told us about the history of the town, and that it was built by Romans before the birth of Christ, carved right into the hillside.  Mind blowing for all of us.  He led us up the stone staircase and to one of the many doors along winding paths.  He turned the key 5 times, for the 5 bolts, and led us into our quaint two-story room with a spiral staircase connecting the floors.  He showed us behind another door the rest of the cave still being excavated for more living space. We were amazed.  He took on us balcony over the street and pointed out the café, at the bottom of the steps from our walkway, and gave us recommendations for dinner.

Lily's drawing

The view of the house out our window.

Caden and Gia relaxed with Italian speaking Pokemon while Lily and I tried to sketch our view.

Lily and I then went on a little exploration run back to the church.  The cemetery surrounding this beautiful church is truly one of the most stunning things I have ever seen.  I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

As we said a Hail Mary for those that have gone before us and those that are left behind, the most adorable Italian man hobbled down from further up the hill, step over crippled step, with flowers in hand.  I wondered if this were a daily practice, as the sites were all so lovingly attended to with photographs and fresh flowers.

Lily and I headed up one of the little stone paths were we traveled the “sidewalks” of the townspeople between their homes, amidst their gardens and door steps, before eventually arriving back to our starting place.  We met the rest of our crew coming from the other direction, and we excitedly exchanged photos of what we saw.  As we chatted, the sweet little man from the cemetery made his way on the stone paths right to the café at the base of our stairs, and joined a boisterous conversation happening among the collection of residents.  “I think I’m gonna like it here”!

We took a quick shower and headed to car, but first Lily and I took Corey, Caden and Gia up to see the cemetery and experience the little walkways.

Helping to pick up some flowers that had fallen over

The restaurant (Cortto Dei Platani) was a recommendation from our host and did not disappoint, even with the 40-miniute wait for the doors to open at 7:30 PM.  Handmade pasta with Umbrian black truffles has set my meal bar high.  Great wine and amazing views.

Lily's drawing of the swan

Lily's drawing of a house at the bottom of the hill across the lake

Caden's drawing of the swan with the sunset in the background
Caden's drawing of the duck swimming with the swans

Three trip decrees – 1. Try and run every day, even if only for a mile. 2. Drink Italian wine at every meal except for breakfast (unless I'm really thirsty). 3. Gelato at least once/day.  We will have gelato twice today to make up for not checking this box last night.  All were tired, so we headed back, snapping a few photos along the way.  We all fell right to sleep and slept sooooo good!

No comments: