Italian Lakes

IMG_0564Cruising 2022:  Northern Italian Lakes

by Mary Jo

With the pandemic fading, the world has opened up again and the Wenches are now traveling!  Pat Rice has written about Italy and her Southeastern coastal, while Christina has just posted about her recent visit to Roman sites in Italy.

Now it's my turn.  We're just back from a two week cruise on Viking Ocean that we'd booked in 2019.  You know why it was delayed!  But it was an itinerary worth waiting for.  Venice to Istanbul, plus we'd booked a pre-cruise extension in Northern Italy at the famous lakes that lie along the edge of the Alps. 

Covid caused more changes than the years of delay. I've never had to deal with such a complicated and stressful set of hurdles for a vacation.  There were masses of online forms and apps to be filled out, and I LOATHE having to enter so much info on my cell phone because I'm terrible at using itty bitty electronic keyboards.  It was complicated! But I managed all those, along with the equal stress of arranging Covid tests for just before we left.  It's not easy to get the right timing for the tests and have lab certified results within a very narrow frame of 1 to 3 days before leaving. But we managed that, too.

 

Finally we were off, flying to the lake country of Northern Italy for the three day extension before the start of the cruise.  Looking out the aircraft window at snow topped mountains as we flew into Milan made me gave a happy romantic sigh of anticipation. 

IMG_0588 (1)The lakes have been loved by the rich and famous since Roman times, and they offer a cool summer escape from the IMG_0587heat.  They are dramatic deeply scoured glacial lakes formed in the ice age and are similar to those found across the northern Europe and North America and presumably Asia as well.  Upstate New York, where I grew up, is heavily glaciated with lots of lakes.  Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote that Lake Como "exceeds anything I ever beheld of beauty." Famous people still love the place.  (No, we didn't see George Clooney; he was probably off making a movie somewhere.) 

But Covid ripples caused a range of changes.  We were to stay at a hotel on Lake Maggiore, the largest of the lakes, which is bounded by Switzerland as well as Italy.  I was concerned when we were deposited at a different hotel than we'd been told would be our destination. Fortunately a lovely Viking rep came out of the hotel and assured us that we were in the right place, and that the Grand Hotel Majestic was even better than the hotel we IMG_0572expected.  No complaints here!  The Majestic is a spectacular four star hotel, and the kitchen has two Michelin stars.  It's presided over by a young chef, Danilo Bortolin, and the food was amazing.  (Remember that the book Eat, Pray, Love started in Italy for the "Eat" part of the author's journey. <G>)

As splendid as the scenery and the hotel were, the high point of our stay in this area was a specially arranged wine tasting at a famous wine shop in nearby Stresa, Cambusa Wine. It's a family business, started in the early 1960s.  I'm no wine connoisseur, but the experience was five gold stars. We were set up with a little table amongst the wine racks and were hosted by a sister and brother who were among the five children of the shop's founders. The sister, Beatrice, said that IMG_0584when they were little, they napped in wine crates. <G>

We were promised tastings of two white and two red wines plus little snacky things as accompaniments. The snacks included sliced cheeses with balsamic vinegar and wood smoked local hazelnuts among other things.  But what made the event was the warmth and enthusiasm of Beatrice and her brother.  We sampled the first four (excellent) wines, but then, "You must try this one!" And "this one!" And more.  <G> 

We ended up with seven bottles on the table, up to a delicious sweet dessert wine.  The amounts of wine were small, but after seven different samples, I was floating back to our driver. <G>   We left with hugs and great happiness.  It was an afternoon to remember. I learned later that the shop does tastings for travel specialists like Rick Steves and Tauck.  Naturally they're larger groups.  The Mayhem Consultant and I felt very honored.

IMG_0585 (1)After three days, it was time to travel to ship in Venice. Except–ooops! Venice is no longer allowing any cruise ships in the city, even smaller ships like the Viking ones.  The cruise line did a very rapid reboot and moved the Viking Sky to Ravenna, south along the west coast of the Adriatic Sea, once the capital of the Western Roman Empire.  Once more, changes! 

So much happened on this cruise, not all of it expected, so soon the adventure will continue! So onward to Dubrovnik

Mary Jo, offering a tip of the wine glass to all armchair travelers, and asking where you might like to go if you could be magically transported on a flying carpet. 

50 thoughts on “Italian Lakes”

  1. I have heard great reports about Viking cruises, and it sounds like the did a great job in spite of the last minute changes and restrictions!

    Reply
  2. I have heard great reports about Viking cruises, and it sounds like the did a great job in spite of the last minute changes and restrictions!

    Reply
  3. I have heard great reports about Viking cruises, and it sounds like the did a great job in spite of the last minute changes and restrictions!

    Reply
  4. I have heard great reports about Viking cruises, and it sounds like the did a great job in spite of the last minute changes and restrictions!

    Reply
  5. I have heard great reports about Viking cruises, and it sounds like the did a great job in spite of the last minute changes and restrictions!

    Reply
  6. It sounds lovely, Mary Jo, even with the unanticipated changes. I look forward to hearing about Dubrovnik and more.
    Does the magic carpet require covid tests and the like? If not, I’d happily take a trip to visit my daughter in South Korea.

    Reply
  7. It sounds lovely, Mary Jo, even with the unanticipated changes. I look forward to hearing about Dubrovnik and more.
    Does the magic carpet require covid tests and the like? If not, I’d happily take a trip to visit my daughter in South Korea.

    Reply
  8. It sounds lovely, Mary Jo, even with the unanticipated changes. I look forward to hearing about Dubrovnik and more.
    Does the magic carpet require covid tests and the like? If not, I’d happily take a trip to visit my daughter in South Korea.

    Reply
  9. It sounds lovely, Mary Jo, even with the unanticipated changes. I look forward to hearing about Dubrovnik and more.
    Does the magic carpet require covid tests and the like? If not, I’d happily take a trip to visit my daughter in South Korea.

    Reply
  10. It sounds lovely, Mary Jo, even with the unanticipated changes. I look forward to hearing about Dubrovnik and more.
    Does the magic carpet require covid tests and the like? If not, I’d happily take a trip to visit my daughter in South Korea.

    Reply
  11. WOW! What a wonderful post. I especially appreciated it because I just got done vacuuming my floor and folding laundry. Why is it I figure those are not tasks anyone ever does in glorious places like those Northern Italian lakes?
    Seriously, thank you so much for the tour. It does seem that you adjusted beautifully to any changes to plans.
    Being flexible is a good thing.
    Hope everyone is smiling.

    Reply
  12. WOW! What a wonderful post. I especially appreciated it because I just got done vacuuming my floor and folding laundry. Why is it I figure those are not tasks anyone ever does in glorious places like those Northern Italian lakes?
    Seriously, thank you so much for the tour. It does seem that you adjusted beautifully to any changes to plans.
    Being flexible is a good thing.
    Hope everyone is smiling.

    Reply
  13. WOW! What a wonderful post. I especially appreciated it because I just got done vacuuming my floor and folding laundry. Why is it I figure those are not tasks anyone ever does in glorious places like those Northern Italian lakes?
    Seriously, thank you so much for the tour. It does seem that you adjusted beautifully to any changes to plans.
    Being flexible is a good thing.
    Hope everyone is smiling.

    Reply
  14. WOW! What a wonderful post. I especially appreciated it because I just got done vacuuming my floor and folding laundry. Why is it I figure those are not tasks anyone ever does in glorious places like those Northern Italian lakes?
    Seriously, thank you so much for the tour. It does seem that you adjusted beautifully to any changes to plans.
    Being flexible is a good thing.
    Hope everyone is smiling.

    Reply
  15. WOW! What a wonderful post. I especially appreciated it because I just got done vacuuming my floor and folding laundry. Why is it I figure those are not tasks anyone ever does in glorious places like those Northern Italian lakes?
    Seriously, thank you so much for the tour. It does seem that you adjusted beautifully to any changes to plans.
    Being flexible is a good thing.
    Hope everyone is smiling.

    Reply
  16. Sounds wonderful so far Mary Jo! I’m not sure I’d be ready to deal with all the Covid obstacles just yet. I think I’ll wait a while to books any kind of overseas trip. I love wine & listening to Rick Steves so your reference made me laugh / smile!

    Reply
  17. Sounds wonderful so far Mary Jo! I’m not sure I’d be ready to deal with all the Covid obstacles just yet. I think I’ll wait a while to books any kind of overseas trip. I love wine & listening to Rick Steves so your reference made me laugh / smile!

    Reply
  18. Sounds wonderful so far Mary Jo! I’m not sure I’d be ready to deal with all the Covid obstacles just yet. I think I’ll wait a while to books any kind of overseas trip. I love wine & listening to Rick Steves so your reference made me laugh / smile!

    Reply
  19. Sounds wonderful so far Mary Jo! I’m not sure I’d be ready to deal with all the Covid obstacles just yet. I think I’ll wait a while to books any kind of overseas trip. I love wine & listening to Rick Steves so your reference made me laugh / smile!

    Reply
  20. Sounds wonderful so far Mary Jo! I’m not sure I’d be ready to deal with all the Covid obstacles just yet. I think I’ll wait a while to books any kind of overseas trip. I love wine & listening to Rick Steves so your reference made me laugh / smile!

    Reply
  21. Annette–I’m pretty sure that behind the scenes, there are hard working people doing the laundry and the other tedious realities of living! But for two blessed weeks, I didn’t have to do any of that!

    Reply
  22. Annette–I’m pretty sure that behind the scenes, there are hard working people doing the laundry and the other tedious realities of living! But for two blessed weeks, I didn’t have to do any of that!

    Reply
  23. Annette–I’m pretty sure that behind the scenes, there are hard working people doing the laundry and the other tedious realities of living! But for two blessed weeks, I didn’t have to do any of that!

    Reply
  24. Annette–I’m pretty sure that behind the scenes, there are hard working people doing the laundry and the other tedious realities of living! But for two blessed weeks, I didn’t have to do any of that!

    Reply
  25. Annette–I’m pretty sure that behind the scenes, there are hard working people doing the laundry and the other tedious realities of living! But for two blessed weeks, I didn’t have to do any of that!

    Reply
  26. Jeanne, we love Rick Steves, too. He has such pleasure in his travels, and sharing wonderful things with his viewers. But I don’t blame you for wanting to wait a bit on foreign travel. Traveling in the US is much easier!

    Reply
  27. Jeanne, we love Rick Steves, too. He has such pleasure in his travels, and sharing wonderful things with his viewers. But I don’t blame you for wanting to wait a bit on foreign travel. Traveling in the US is much easier!

    Reply
  28. Jeanne, we love Rick Steves, too. He has such pleasure in his travels, and sharing wonderful things with his viewers. But I don’t blame you for wanting to wait a bit on foreign travel. Traveling in the US is much easier!

    Reply
  29. Jeanne, we love Rick Steves, too. He has such pleasure in his travels, and sharing wonderful things with his viewers. But I don’t blame you for wanting to wait a bit on foreign travel. Traveling in the US is much easier!

    Reply
  30. Jeanne, we love Rick Steves, too. He has such pleasure in his travels, and sharing wonderful things with his viewers. But I don’t blame you for wanting to wait a bit on foreign travel. Traveling in the US is much easier!

    Reply
  31. My ex husband is in Greece right now, with his very, very rich girlfriend. Via my magic carpet, I’d love to visit Greece, Mary Jo, but not at the same time as my ex husband!

    Reply
  32. My ex husband is in Greece right now, with his very, very rich girlfriend. Via my magic carpet, I’d love to visit Greece, Mary Jo, but not at the same time as my ex husband!

    Reply
  33. My ex husband is in Greece right now, with his very, very rich girlfriend. Via my magic carpet, I’d love to visit Greece, Mary Jo, but not at the same time as my ex husband!

    Reply
  34. My ex husband is in Greece right now, with his very, very rich girlfriend. Via my magic carpet, I’d love to visit Greece, Mary Jo, but not at the same time as my ex husband!

    Reply
  35. My ex husband is in Greece right now, with his very, very rich girlfriend. Via my magic carpet, I’d love to visit Greece, Mary Jo, but not at the same time as my ex husband!

    Reply

Leave a Comment