Saturday, June 25, 2011

Magnificient Milan!

Everybody recommended that we do not drive into Milan. Of course it is not as crazy as driving in Rome but still trying to drive around in two separate cars with the family in a busy city like Milan probably may not have been a fun experience. So, we boarded the train to Milan from Portichetto a little village in the towm of Luisago. We loved the train journey especially reading out the names of the little Lombardian towns along the way. In about 45 minutes you are already in the Milano Cardona train station and we were all set to take in the sights of the city. Don't miss the statue of the needle, thread and knot outside the station, it took a while for me to figure out what it was.

Anyway, after about a ten minute walk we found ourselves standing in the grand Piazza Duomo which is one of the biggest squares in Milan. I had to hold on tight to little rabbit before she could run away and become part of the Italian crowds :-) Standing in the middle of the Piazza it was impressive to see the Duomo Cathedral, the Royal Palace and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II .

The Duomo or the Cathedral is fantastically grandiose, all the streets seem to be radiating from the Duomo or circling it, basically everything around the city seems to be happening around the Cathedral. I personally think that the cathedral from outside was more impressive than from the inside. What definitely will catch your eye is the statue of St. Bartholomew the apostle by Marco d'Agrate, a truly magnificient sculpture. Don't forget to walk behind the statue to really see the ghastly effect of this masterpiece. It made me read about the miracles of St. Bartholomew later on to find out the significance of this sculpture.

Over multiple espressos it was fun to check out all the fashionistas walking around the streets strutting their stuff. After all being one of the fashion capitals of the world with the major Italian fashion brands like Versace, Armani, Prada and the rest that I cant remember right now all have their headquarters here.

It was really cute to see Dad and Mom walk hand in hand making sure that they dont get lost in this bustling city brimming with life.

I am sure that if we had more days to spend in this city we could have explored a lot more interesting monuments like the Castello Sforzesco but that would have to wait until the next time around when we are here.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Beautiful Bergamo!!

A visit to Bergamo a city in Nothern Italy transforms you into a completely different world. The city has an old part called 'Ciity alta' or upper city which can only be reached by taking the funicular all the way up from the newer part of the city. Once you are there you feel like you are in a totally different world, a hilltop medevial town filled with cobbled stones, churches, squares and bars and classy cafe terraces.

The whole place gives you the feeling of having travelled back in time.  I learnt that some of the most expensives homes in Italy are in the old part of town in Bergamo as space is extremely limited here. Some parts of Bergamo reminded me of walking through the streets of Cochem a town in Germany along the Mosel valley. I really enjoyed the time we spent in the Piazza Vecchia the old square that dates back to 1453 in the heart of the old town.

The girls had so much fun playing at the fountain in the center of the square. Make sure that you sample some of the most amazing gelatos in the world as you take time to explore the town.

So next time you are in the area of Lombardy in Italy make sure you have a day chalked out for a visit to beautiful Bergamo.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Lago di Como (Lake Como)

A beautiful five and half hour drive from home including an awesome 17 km sheer tunnel stretch through the St. Gotthard bringing you from Switzerland into Italy. The whole stretch was mainly on autobahn A5 and A2 and a beautiful stretch at that on the A2 and you are already in the beautiful Italian region of Lombardy. I am loving Villa Guardia a little town close to Como and also loving the lovely ancient stone villa run by Francesca and her husband Georgio. Well, the wireless internet connection only works from the east facing bedroom but then who cares about these minor details when you are on vacation ;-) Georgio promised to give hubby dear the keys to their own private chapel if we wanted to take a look, of course we want to!!!!

The drive from Villa Guardia to Como was very adventorous. The Italians had no clue that I was following hubby's car very closely, everybody tried to jump right in between with their swanky cars and I was determined to stay put and not let them just squeeze their way in. As long as you don't understand the language the swear words also sound like music :-) Little bunny and little rabbit were quite amused that everybody honked away to glory.
Como is such a lovely town and the lake Como is the deepest lake in Europe and the bottom of the lake is more than 200 meters below sea level.

The streetside markets definitely beckoned but I was reminded harshly that we were here for checking out the place and not to shop!!! Well, well, well...after a yummy seafood risotto and a nice dry Gew├╝rztraminer to go with it and I was happy again. Ordering a caff├Ę automatically gets you an espresso and a super strong one that helps you carry around the little ones without a care in the world. My parents decided that Cappuccino was more their preferred option than the stealthy dark espressos. You can get lost walking through the beautiful narrow alleys in old town Como, every little alley alluring and inviting you to explore its hidden treasures.

Yippee, we still have Mennagio, Varrenna, Bellagio, Bergamo and Cadenabbia on the weeks itinerary!!!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Savoring Silz

I just can't seem to get enough of the Southern Wine Route!! Every little town lining the Palatine forest is a little treasure on its own. Driving through some of these towns gives you the feeling that time has stood still and looking at the people who live there I always think that they don't have the slightest care in the world. Silz is a little town tucked away in the Southern wine route in the Wasgau region and it boasts of a 100 acre nature park called the Wild-und Wanderpark. It was Mother's day and it was a perfect sunny day to visit the park with the kiddies along with hubby dear and my parents.

There are several hundred animals who have made this nature park their home. Little bunny and rabbit met with fallow deer, deer, mountain goat, horses, rabbits, sheep and many other animal friends.

The deer roamed freely and some of them made it a point to walk all around the park with little bunny. She made sure that she collected enough animal feed for them and kept them very happy and it was no wonder that they followed her around very obiediently.

Indeed a great place for the kids and also for their parents. Plan to definitely go back there again one of these summer days.