A beautiful Italian quote in the film ‘Eat Pray Love’ has been shared online regularly this summer. It is ‘dolce far niente’ – the sweetness of doing nothing.
That sweetness is very easy to find in Lake Como, as I discovered in August.
The sparkling sun-soaked lake, the picture-perfect towns, the warm serene evenings and the cool spritzes were just the ticket for an end-of-summer getaway.
It was my second guided group tour of the year with Travel Department, and I’m so glad that I chose them again. Not only are they our travel partners on Donegal Woman, but they are also my top choice for quality and value when it comes to exploring new places.
I had researched a short trip to the city of Como myself, but the costs of flights and four nights in a self-catering apartment were so much higher than Travel Department’s 7-day tour to Lake Como. The tour was €1,200pp for a four-star hotel (prices vary on date, see below for a discount code!), with three excursions, flights, airport transfers, breakfast and dinners all included.
Truth be told, I was even happier with the location. Our hotel (Grand Hotel Cadenabbia) was in the mid-lake area of Cadenabbia, a quiet town that is just a 15-minute ferry ride to Bellagio, Varenna and Menaggio – each as beautiful as the next.
The highlights of the tour were the hotel itself and our day tours to Milan and Switzerland. We had three days of ‘free time’ which we used to explore the area ourselves. We had plenty of tips and advice from our local guide Ilona, who was with our group from day one. Ilona greeted us at the airport, she held a welcome meeting on the first morning and she accompanied us on every tour, sharing vast amounts of stories and information about this special place.
Lake Como, in northern Italy, is a favourite destination for the rich and famous. The grand villas are to be marvelled at, including George and Amal Clooney’s, but thankfully the lakeside cafes do not have premium prices. An average glass of wine would be €6, and a cocktail was around €10.
Every town and every laneway in Lake Como could easily be a film set. We loved exploring the winding cobbled alleys of Bellagio and Varenna. And in the evenings, we were fortunate to have a panoramic restaurant in the hotel for taking in the serene views of the lake and pleasure boats cruising by.
The hotel was very luxurious, and the rooftop terrace was the perfect place to sunbathe or to relax with a cocktail. Lake Como is more about charming cafes and aperitivo bars than nightlife, and we did find that we had to travel to Bellagio for a bit more atmosphere in the evenings.
For me, the ‘sweetness’ of doing nothing lies in the sweetness of an Aperol Spritz. This famous Italian cocktail is the perfect light cooler to enjoy in the afternoons while you watch the world go by. Although the Aperol flavour is not everyone’s cup of tea, it’s worth a try!
We managed to pack a lot into our tour days. In Milan, we had a walking tour of Castello Sforzesco and the city centre, learning about the dynasty of Dukes and artists of the city, including Leonardo Da Vinci. My free time in the city was spent checking out the glamorous shops… and checking out the local pizza!
On our tour to Switzerland, we crossed the border by coach before hopping on the Bernina Express mountain train with Ilona. This train tour through the Alps was incredible. Although it was frightening to see how little snow was left on the mountaintops and how fast the glaciers were melting. We climbed high into the mountains to the ‘Top of the World’ better known as the Alpine town of St Moritz. We had free time to spend in this pristine town, which I spent by the crystal clear lake.
There is so much to do and see in Lake Como, I’m so glad we had an itinerary created by expert guides to ensure we enjoy all of the highlights. Next time, I want to learn how to drive one of those luxury boats!
Travel Department tours to Lake Como, Milan & St Moritz depart throughout October 2022, and resume again from March 2023 throughout the summer.
If you’ve always had Lake Como on your Bucket List, you’re in luck! This month, Travel Department is delighted to offer readers of Donegal Daily, Donegal Woman and Donegal Sport Hub an exclusive discount on selected tours.
Use promo code: BUCKET50DON and save €50pp* on 7 night guided tours to Lake Como. Or browse all of the discounted ‘Bucket List’ holidays at: www.traveldepartment.com/donegal-daily
Offer valid for new bookings made by 30th of September 2022. For T & Cs see: www.traveldepartment.com/donegal-daily
To discuss any questions or make a booking simply call 01 637 1698 and quote Donegal Daily
Note: I travelled with Travel Department as a paying customer. Views are entirely my own. Donegal Daily Ltd has an affiliate relationship with Travel Department and receives a commission on bookings made through the linked pages.