Blast! Northern Italy Lures Us Back Into Its Web of Wine, Warmth and Watercraft (Shakes Fist)!

Blast it all, Italy.

Just when we thought we were too “mature” and “well-traveled” to find you at all interesting anymore…

…you raised an eyebrow and showed us why you’ve still got it!😆

Having traveled through Italy three or four times, I figured we were “over it.”

This 5th was supposed to only be because we had to pick up our car lease in Milan.

I even once silently promised myself I would NEVER go to Italy in August, because I didn’t want to fight the inevitable crowds (or heat) that month.

Still, via Italy we had to go, so we decided to stay in Lake Garda and Lake Como “on the way” in and out for a couple weeks, just for kicks…

…and I had to laugh at myself in the end because darn it, Italy, you did it! You showed 40’s me that we may not be over—and that, in fact, you and I might even get along better now that I’m more aged.

Is there a hidden explanation for all of this?

Once, our dentist (of all people) asked if I had Italian blood because of a particular feature of my teeth and I laughed and said “No, I don’t think so!”

Yet lo and behold, later a DNA test showed yes, the Italian blood is there!

So, how about we just blame this inability to “get over” Italy on my Italian blood, because my brain is still halfheartedly fighting it.

Near Garda, we stayed in a tiny town where our energetic, retired restaurant-business-owning host (who rented us the upper apartment in his large home) quickly decided he liked us.

He then (near forced) into our arms a local champagne-like wine and bottles of local olive oil from his special vat, and made me too many espressos on the terrace to count (I was too hyped up on the caffeine). His English and my Italian were about at the same level (basic, limited understanding), but we 3 adults just turned on our phone translator microphones and had DEEP DISCUSSIONS sitting on cushioned chairs in the partial shade of his umbrella protecting us from the Italian summer sun while his hospitable dog entertained our two daughters for hours…

We talked about travel and life and ambition and family and people and things that matter. Sometimes he’d be speaking/lecturing in length in Italian and it was one of those things where I just KNEW what he was saying and he would say, “You get it. I can see you understand me.”

Language Nerd + Deep Conversation = all we’re missing is the gelato for this picture of paradise to be complete! (Never you fear…that comes next…)

He was like a cool dad who decided he would adopt us. I asked him laughingly if he gave champagne and espresso and his oh-so-precious handmade “for locals only” olive oil to all the tourists who stayed with him a short time and he snickered: “No.”

As we laughed, he added confidently with a wave of his hand, “I can read people. I know people. You are good ones.”

You can see why it was so hard to leave! 😆😆😆

He tried convincing us that we could move there, Matt would get a job, we’d enroll our daughters in the local Italian school and that we’d all pick up Italian within weeks.

We all exchanged our contact info and don’t tell Matt but if he dies, moving to Lake Garda with the girls is on the list of possibilities. (Yes, I’m always prepared with a backup plan…or two. The other plan involves Central America but is another story for another day.)

Delightful drives, restaurants, wine, company, views, weather…oh Italy, even when you’re crowded in the big towns you have some little out of the way places that Jess couldn’t resist. You win. You got me. I am pazzo and you are a genius.

We didn’t have much time but we did manage to spend another week on Lake Como on our way back to drop off the car in Milan months later.

I’d previously avoided Como because I’d associated it with Hollywood stars and figured “it must be busy and overrated.”

Au contraire. I mean, parts of it are, but…we had THE MOST SURPRISINGLY DELIGHTFUL TIME!

Our apartment had this amazing view…

…which we got to wake up to every morning, say buona sera to every night, and enjoy at every meal we ate at home instead of out (although we did eat out, you’re in Italy after all)…

We even managed to convince a completely booked-for-weeks Italian boat shop to finagle us a boat rental in the middle of August (I hadn’t booked in advance because I didn’t think I’d care, but lesson learned—Jess has a history of loving boating but that’s another story too)…

…and we spent the day jetting around to the shrieks of delight from our daughters…

…letting them drive the boat…

…cruising by to view the big towns like Bellagio and Menaggio from the water, not to mention the countless villas…

…finding secluded spots to drop anchor and swim…

…then relax and eat the lunch and Italian snacks we brought. We even scouted out our next “even more ideal” place to stay next time in Como…

Maybe my expectations were just so low this time, Italy, but—like the Italian men my girlfriends and I came across in our early 20s—you can be a bit sneaky!


If you’re not familiar with Italian geography, northern Italy shares a border with the Swiss Alps so it’s beautiful flying into Milan! (Where we were picking up our lease.)
Driving our new car from Milan to Garda region…
One of the coolest mountain roads we got to drive on! Found a little Italian restaurant hidden in the middle of nowhere and the girls ate their first true Italian meal there!

Good morning from our first apartment near Garda…

We literally had gelato for breakfast one morning, THEN went to the tiny local shop to pick up some groceries for a picnic lunch…

Months later, crossing back into northern Italy from Switzerland via the Passo dello Spluga:

We took fun photos of the girls (not shown here) with one foot in Italy, the other foot in Switzerland, because hey…why not?! 😉

The drive down towards Como from Passo dello Spluga is narrow, windy, and therefore someone with a large vehicle held up traffic for awhile. Thus, we enjoyed this scenery veeery slowly, for at least an hour. 😉

We never got tired of our daily “good morning” and “goodnight” view in Como! The girls still talk about that apartment…

We’d scout out the best parking spots from our hilltop view of the town, then drive down to park then walk along the adorable walkways to our favorite gelato place…

In my next life, I’d like a villa with its own pull-up dock like this! Wowee!

A coffee date with my daughter at a villa overlooking the lake…no complaints!

Running down steep stone stairs AND holding onto your bread…multi-talented!

Yeah yeah yeah…more gelato…this time just the 3 girls together!

Change of plans alert! While we were in Scotland, we flipped our plans and, instead of heading into France, we flew out of Milan to visit our dear Norweigian friends instead! So…

…next up will be Norway!

If you missed the places we lived and/or traveled in Europe, you’ll enjoy seeing

  1. living in the Azores
  2. Madeira
  3. The Canary Islands
  4. living in Sevilla, Spain
  5. Morocco
  6. living in the Scottish Highlands
  7. …and more HERE! (includes our trips through South and East Africa!)

PS: Following these steps has enabled us to make our dreams a reality, create a home that worked FOR us (instead of the other way around)!

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