One of our favorite towns on Lake Como is Varenna. The different colors of the houses perched on the steep hillside remind me of Bermuda - not the terrain, just the colors. Along the shoreline is a beautiful walkway called "Lover's Lane". Cafes dot the streets and every eatery has a lake view in site. The narrow passages between the buildings take you up to the shopping areas. This photo had 123 steps to reach the top. With that kind of exercise, it really did not matter how many gelatos you had each day. Steve and I actually lost weight on the trip. Varenna is so very beautiful.

Shopping for groceries for our villa, a local Italian said we must see Villa del Balbianello. The villa can only be reached by boat. Built originally in the last years of the 18th century, Guido Mongino, a prominent Milanese businessman, purchased Villa del Balbianello in 1945. He restored this amazing property and turned it into a museum to house his rare art pieces and souvenirs of his most famous expeditions - one to the North Pole in 1971 and the conquest of Mt. Everest in 1973. Having no living relatives, upon his death, Villa del Balbianello was left to the Italian National Trust. The pictures of the gardens and the property do not do justice to this magnificent estate.

One day we had lunch in Cernobbio at Villa D'Este, one of the most beautiful hotels in Europe. As we entered the lobby, the 10 foot-high floral display was breathtaking. The hotel, inside and out, is grand. The impressive gardens are perfectly manicured, the swimming pool extends out into the lake and no matter which way you look, you see nothing but perfection. We loved this hotel!

 

Every time we have visited Milan, Steve and I could never get tickets to Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper. This trip we planned way ahead and were successful. Even though the group that you are in (and numbers are limited) can only stay 15 minutes, you are allowed to take photographs.

The Last Supper is 15 feet × 29 ft and covers the back wall of the dining hall at the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. Leonardo began work on The Last Supper in 1495 and completed it in 1498 (he did not work on the painting continuously). The Last Supper specifically portrays the reaction given by each apostle when Jesus said one of them would betray him. 

Having read Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, of course I am looking at the painting in a new light. The single shot (see above) is of Jesus. The second picture (below) is of the two people on Jesus' left side. The person on the right certainly looks like a female to us. What do you think?

Before taking our villa on Lake Como, Steve and I spent three days in Milan enjoying Fashion Week. The city was a buzz with excitement. There were fashion shows in public places throughout the city by young, unknown designers showing their collections. Shows were every hour and hundreds of people would congregate around the stages. At the Galleria, the stage was in the center of a huge atrium, underneath the glass canopy. In between shows it was such a treat to window shop and see all the gorgeous clothes. Armani, Prada, Escarda, Etro, etc. were all there!

Every morning and late afternoon, we shared food, drinks and conversation on the front veranda of Villa Lilo. The gardens feature so many ornamental shrubs and trees that are changing colors during this fall season. I could see a big difference in their foliage in just a week. From the veranda, we can see Bellagio across the lake. All of the towns that dot the lake have their own specific charm. We travelled to Bellagio everyday to change ferries to go to the other towns. How exciting to be here!


In October, on our annual Italy trip, we revisited beautiful Lake Como. With our traveling group of friends, we rented a villa on the lake in the town of Cadenabbia, very close to Tremezzo. Looking at the cars at the bottom of the photograph, you can see how BIG our house, Villa Lilo, actually is. The Villa has amazing gardens that seemed to wind and turn in every direction. How wonderful to wake up every morning and see this beautiful lake and snow capped mountains in the distance.