When we last visited Italy in 2007, we visited central Italy but never made it up north. This time we spent time up north and in the Italian Riviera. We started this trip in Milan. For us, Milan was not as grandiose as Paris, but it is a city with plenty of museums, castles, churches and a world-renowned fashion district.
One of the most famous landmarks is the Duomo (means Italian Cathedral Church). It is dedicated to Santa Maria Nascente and is the seat of the Archbishop of Milan. The Duomo took 6 centuries to complete and is currently the 5th largest in the world.
Like New York and Paris, Milan has an impressive fashion district. You will see stores for almost every well-known designer including Prada, Gucci, and Giorgio Armani.
Another famous Milan landmark is the Sforza Castle. It was built-in he 15th century by Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan. After visiting many of the castles in France, it was not as impressive as those but it is certainly worth a visit.
La Scala Opera House
Inaugurated in 1778, the La Scala Opera House is home to Italy’s greatest operatic artists. The building exterior is understated but the interior is pretty impressive.
After a few days in Milan, we caught a train to Lake Como. I’ve read about Lake Como for many years and always wanted to visit. It did not disappoint. The lake is surrounded by gorgeous mountains populated with small villages. We spent our time in Bellagio — a 2 hour scenic ferry ride from Como.
Very close to Bellagio is Villa del Balbianello, a castle where a scene from Star Wars II and Casino Royale were shot.
I enjoyed the Italian Riviera more than any other place visited on our trip thus far. It is scenic, full of life, and has lots of water activities. All great ingredients for a fun vacation.
We stayed in Monterosso and visited the other villages via train during the day (just minutes away by train). Monterosso was our favorite, it was large enough to have great restaurants and shopping areas but small enough to feel intimate.
I woke up early one morning and hiked to the top of Monterosso for some incredible views.
A small chapel resides at the top that overlooks the city. It was small, only about 7 or so pews on each side of the church.
I stumbled on an Italian artist painting the landscape, very cool!
About 3 years ago, Lynn and I were in Breckenridge Colorado and purchased an enlarged photograph of a Greek Island from a travel photographer. He had traveled all over the world and had some incredible pictures of Italy. We struggled between purchasing the picture of Greece vs. a picture of Vernazza. Since then, I have wanted to capture that picture.
On this trip, I got the shot! I hiked for about an hour to get to the spot I needed to shoot this picture. In reality, I could have hiked about 15 minutes if I had known where to go, but I missed the turnoff and took the long way around.
I took the picture from a lot of different angles — which one do you like best?
On my way back down the mountain, I came across this cat sleeping in front of a residence. I awoke him from his slumber, he did not look happy.
Next we are heading to Florence, Tuscany (for a Chianti wine tour), Rome, Pompeii, and Capri Italy. We will end our trip in Lisbon Portugal.