For the sake of not having one MASSIVE blog post – I’ve broken this into three!
- Our Italy Trip: Part 1 – Flying to Italy & Tuscany
- Our Italy Trip: Part 2 – Rome
- Our Italy Trip: Part 3 – Florence, Lake Como, Bellagio and Flying Home (that’s where you are now)
Day 5: A Montecatini Morning & Day in Florence
Having stayed up so late the night before, we allowed ourselves to sleep in a little bit this day. Once we got up, we had a leisurely morning drinking coffee at our favorite place in the Montecatini Piazza, Centrale restaurant, took some pictures because it was beautiful out, and then caught a train around 1 to go to Florence.
Knowing we didn’t have much time to spend in the city, we decided on just visiting the Duomo, the bell tower (the Campanile), and Duomo museum with an all access pass. We found the spot on the map, and headed for the Dome because you can see it from most parts of the city. We turned a corner, and heard some beautiful music and the most magnificent view of the building. We were in awe!
The museum was first, and it did not disappoint! It was full of beautiful old relics and artifacts from the building of the Duomo and from those who used it. Because Goodman works in construction and is a carpenter, he really enjoyed seeing some of the old tools used to build the giant cathedral.
We then ate a super late lunch at a great place outside of the duomo that was serving a three course meal for 11 euros. It’s amazing how much great food you can get for so cheap there! (By the way, it was lasagna again 😬) I had to take advantage of the wine special and the duomo backdrop!
Then we climbed the (million) steps through the crowded tower and got to the top as the bells were ringing! This kind of thing would never fly in America – it was so cramped and I’m really surprised there hasn’t been some sort of lawsuit against the place because it is seriously rough to get to the top. The stairway is maybe 2.5 feet across and the stairs are pretty small and made of stone, and the entire time you are having to side step because people are coming down the steps as you are going up. You have to stop several times because of traffic jams at the corners and when you stop the claustrophobia sets in a little. None the less, we made it through to the top and it was so beautiful! I’m sad we really didn’t take any photos of this, but I’ll share the view of the tower from the duomo below.
The bells ringing
We had to wait until 6:30 to visit the duomo afterward, due to the fact that they only let 150 people per half hour in due to the even more narrow passageways it takes to get to the top. To preoccupy ourselves we had some tasty gelato and walked through some Italian leather street vendors before we made our way to the tour.
By the time we made it up to the top it was dark and Florence was amazing to see from 463 steps above ground atop the Dome!
Afterward, we made it home by train (no delay this time) and got to relax with – you guessed it – some vino, on our last night in Tuscany.
Day 6: Lake Como
This morning we checked out of Montecatini and drove the 4 hours up to Lake Como for our last night in Italy.
The groupon had booked a hotel very close to the malpense airport, but we decided to forgo this hotel and venture up to Lake Como for the day instead because it was only about an hour away from the airport.
It was still going to be cold when we were visiting, so I decided to book a hotel on top of a mountain in the middle of the lake (if you look of lake como on a map, it’s shaped like an upside down Y and there are mountains in the middle!)
We passed by the town of Carrera in upper Tuscany on our way up (where they make Carrera marble) and saw huge marble factories with large blocks of uncut marble and many slabs of cut marble ready to be shipped across the world. Close by, there were many shipping facilities with shipping containers stacked 15 or more stories high. It was interesting to see!
Then we made it to Lake Como and had to drive up an extremely steep and scary road to get to our hotel on the top of the mountain. Unfortunately, due to a rainy/foggy day, we weren’t able to see the view of the lake from our hotel room during the daylight.
We decided to venture back down to the town of Como by furnunculare, which is essentially a type of train that takes a handful of passengers up and down the mountain.
When we got to the town, we shopped and had a nice dinner outside before returning up the mountain to our hotel. By that time the rain had cleared, and we got to see the amazing view of the lake!
Once we were there, we enjoyed some wine and got to talk with the owners of the hotel on politics, world news, perspective, and culture which was super interesting!
Day 7/8: Lake Como, Bellagio, flying and driving home.
This last day of the trip was officially the longest day of either of our lives. Having woken up at 7:30 am Italy time (1:30am Virginia time) and not getting to sleep until 4:30am Virginia time the next day (10:30 am Italy time), we were jet lagged for at least a week after this! But the day started out great!
We started the morning by waking up able to see our crazy high view of the lake.
Then we decided on driving up to Bellagio to see the famous village at the point of the lake. (The one they named the casino after in Las Vegas) We are really glad we did – it was gorgeous, and so well kept!
Then, we rode a ferry across the lake and drove to the Milan airport to make our way home. After a long flight, we got to JFK in New York and made it to long term parking where we realized that at some point during our trip, my car key had gone missing. A call to the car insurance agency, 3 hour wait in the (very cold) air train terminal and new key later, we made the 6 hour drive home in the middle of the night.
After such a great experience in Italy, we can’t really complain too much about the hiccup at the end and were both really happy to be in our own bed at home! We were so excited to pick up our puppies, be able to cook our own food, and enjoy reflecting on the great experience! We were both so so grateful that we were able to enjoy Italy and definitely hope to be back sometime in the future.