It’s been a loooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnngggggggggggg time in the making, but I’m finally in Italy. When I was in year two at school, eight years old, we had a teacher who loved to play guitar and sing, so to help us remember the things we were being taught we would write songs. I think he secretly wanted to start the Wiggles well before Dorothy the Dinosaur was even a strange drunken apparition, so he organised for my class to write a series of songs about our town and what we were learning, and we recorded it on CD with the whole school! So yes, cats out of the bag, I’m singing on the platinum (maybe) album classic, Scratch My Back. I’m sure the featured artist (maybe) and lyric writer royalty cheque will arrive any day now.
We sang awesome hits such as Digestion, Litter is a Problem, Our Five Senses, Dinosaurs and that legendary town anthem that I’m sure is sung at local sporting events and before every local council meeting, the Singleton Song.
But let me get to my point, we also sang a song about Italy, and it’s since then that I’ve always wanted to travel all around this boot shaped country as much as possible. The song was so catchy, the lyrics so beautifully written I’m sure if you heard it you’d be on the next plane here. And yes, I still remember the lyrics:
“Italy is famous it has many modern buildings
It’s shaped like a big boot it’s smaller than Australia
It’s a very good place, but in the olden days
The Roman Emperor would throw you to the lions”
Told you. Factual + informative + catchy = Gold. Take note Bob Dylan.
And as a special/terrifying surprise (for me mostly) I managed to find it online (such a love/hate relationship with the internet sometimes). So, have a listen while you carry on reading…you’re welcome. And feel free to donate $1, so I can actually claim royalties. Every little bit helps.
So here I am, on my third trip to Italy. The first was with school, the second with a school friend, both of us bright-eyed and bushy tailed, fresh off the boat if you will. We came to pick grapes for the summer, only to discover we’d missed the picking season completely, so we sat on Lake Guardia for two weeks until our money ran out then scampered back to London.
I decided to do five nights in Milan, to get back into the Italian way of drinking coffee and to get this carb, cheese, prosecco and prosciutto binge started. From there I planned to do a trip up to Lake Como. In advance of my arrival I’d emailed a friend who knows a guy, who knows another guy, who knows Bono, who knows George Clooney, to let George know I was coming and to make sure the Nespresso pods were stocked, but he didn’t show up at the ferry dock. He’s so unreliable sometimes, so I slummed it and made my own way.
Milan is a great mix of cosmopolitan and historical. Seriously fashionable, overly tall, clearly high-fashion (or wanna be) models prance the streets, elongating their legs past my ears on their way to another cat walk. It’s also the kind of place where you turn a corner and discover a marble Duomo, or an arcade full of Gucci and Prada where the security guard won’t let this dirty, no three-inch heeled, gelato stained lip, chaffed short-legged, pizza-baby-belly Aussie in without a few suspicious looks and a pat down on the way out. In saying all that, for me Milan feels like just another city (world famous landmarks aside). People are too busy or cool or smoking (do people really still do that?!) to talk to anyone else or pause for a moment to notice the sun streaming down the canal.
I did though, with an evening aperitif and a glass of Vino Bianco. Long live the aperitif!
Lake Como on the other hand is all about stopping for the quiet moments. To breathe in the crisp mountain air and soak up the sun once it slowly climbs up over the cliffs. To stand wide-eyed at how high the mountains climb from the dark blue water surrounded by a light morning mist. To hear the birds singing a morning song in the perfectly positioned pencil pines on the impeccably manicured gardens. To see the fish in the crystal-clear water below as you wander around the 15th century Villa Monastero and marvel at the marble sculptures dotting the balconies and wisteria filled pergolas shaping the magical view.
Lake Como is beautiful. I’ll just let the images do the rest of the talking.
I spent the day catching ferries between the towns of Vareena, Bellagio and Como, eating pasta and drinking delectable wine, looking into the eyes of a handsome and overly attentive waiter who kept calling me “bella donna” (le sigh), savouring gelato in the sunshine while watching buskers in front of the Duomo.
This is why I love Italy.
Number of gelatos: 4
Number of pizzas: 3
Number of pasta dishes: 3
Number of “wow” jaw dropping moments: 7
Nugget of Wisdom
Wait several decades before you reveal to your friends you were a famous musical artist in your youth.