Pavia to Cadenabbia on Lake Como

As soon as we left Pavia Thursday morning and started heading north we could see snow covered mountains in the distance. It was a beautiful sunny day and I suspect the snow was all new from the storm we’ve had in the last few days.

Driving north towards Lake Como

Booking hotels is always a bit of a gamble. A hotel can look great and have great reviews online but then turn our in reality to be a big disappointment. Especially at the end of our trip when we spend two nights in places we hope we will have a hotel and a room that we will find enjoyable to relax in. The hotel Duke booked on Lake Como, the Grand Hotel Cadenabbia, is in a nice location but it is old. I was a bit worried the room might be small and dark. So it was a huge and very exciting surprise to see our room. We had booked a lake view room but I’m sure they upgraded us. We have a big sunny bright room with two big doors that open out on to a terrace overlooking stunning Lake Como. It’s heavenly.

Our room at the Grand Hotel Cadenabbia
The view from our terrace

During the afternoon we went for a walk along the lake and had snacks on the terrace.

Lake Como

Pontremoli to Pavia

The autostrada toll roads that we have driven on in Italy have been excellent roads. The exits are usually many miles apart. Wednesday we mainly drove on the autostrada since the route was about the same as if we had driven the non toll roads and the driving time was about an hour less. So when we started out, instead of going back about five miles to the autostrada entrance, we drove the mountain roads about 25 miles to get to the next entrance. As the days have gone by and we have gotten farther north the leaf colors have gotten better and better. It rained almost all day but especially in the mountains it was a beautiful drive.

Mountain Road

When we arrived in Pavia we had some time before we could check in to our B&B. We parked next to the river on the edge of the old town and walked to the basilica.

Pavia Basilica

The bridge we walked over was built in 1951 so it’s older than us!!

Ponte Coperto in Pavia

We stopped at a coffee shop next to the basilica and had chocolate coffees. Oh my!! The inside of the little glass was coated with melted chocolate and then an espresso was added. It was devine!

Chocolate coffee and apple cake.

We usually eat dinner here about 8pm. Wednesday night we ate at a really nice restaurant near our B&B, Alloro. Perhaps we were the only people eating there because it is midweek and it was a cold and wet outside. The waiter and the sommelier were both very helpful and interesting even though we didn’t have much language in common. Did you know that the Primitivo grape in Italy is what we call Zinfandel. The food was fantastic too.

They served us Prosecco and a small fish mousse to start.
Tuna tartare appetizer
I thought these were fun candle holders.

Lucca to Pontremoli

When we ate dinner at Casta D’Uva a few nights ago we really liked the local wine we had. So Tuesday after we left Villa Marta we drove back to Montecarlo to the Carmignani Winery where they make the wine. We tasted a couple other wines and bought several bottles to be shipped home.

Wine tasting
The wine we enjoyed at Casta D’Uva

Then we headed north. The terrain north of Lucca is mountainous. We could have taken the autostrada along the coast and had a shorter driving day but instead we chose the scenic route through the mountains.

Pieve Fosciana

When we arrived at our hotel we had a late lunch on the terrace.


Lucca Day Two

It rained pretty much all day Monday. We decided to go for a walk anyway. Our original plan was to walk along the nineteenth century aqueduct. But when we started out we decided it might be kind of a boring hike.

Aqueduct of Nottolini

Instead we decided to walk all the way around old Lucca on the town wall. The distance is 2.6 miles (4.2 kilometers). It was raining quite hard but there were still a lot of people out. We saw a lot of costumes because Monday was the last day of the Lucca Comics and Games Festival.

People waiting to get into one of the Festival venues.
Duke on the Lucca town wall.

After our walk we drove to a grocery very store and replenished our lunch supplies. We both had wet pants below where the raincoats ended. So when we got back to Villa Marta we changed into dry clothes and then had a picnic lunch in the gazebo behind the hotel.

Drying my shoes
Picnic lunch

For dinner we went to a nearby trattoria, A Bimbotto. We had excellent pizza. Having each topping separate on the pizza is something I have seen quite often in Italy but not everywhere. We ended with the famous family dessert. They called it a cake but I thought it was somewhat similar to a pecan pie.

Duke’s pizza
My pizza
Tipica torta co’ becchi di amaretti


Sunday we moved from Montecarlo just east of Lucca to a lovely former hunting lodge, Abergo Villa Marta, just south of Lucca. They are only fifteen miles apart so we had lots of time to site see. We spent the day exploring Lucca.

My suitcase and I at the gate to Villa Marta
Villa Marta

You may remember I love it when serendipity puts us in a town when a festival is happening. A week or so ago we happened to be in Stroncone for the Chestnut Festival. Well it happened again! We are in Lucca for the annual Lucca Comics and Games Festival. Today is Halloween. There has been no mention of Halloween in Lucca, but there have been lots of great costumes.


There were a lot of people and many tents and venues where you needed tickets to get in. We enjoyed seeing some of the beautiful buildings and churches.

St Martin Cathedral
Basilica of San Frediano
St Michael’s Church in Lucca

Lucca is the only Italian town with an intact wall surrounding it. You can walk all around the town on the wall. We found a bench and people watched and enjoyed the beautiful fall day.

On top of the Lucca wall
Lucca Wall
Duke and I are on the Lucca Wall

For dinner we ate at a Michelin listed restaurant less than a mile from Villa Marta, LaCecca. We had a great dinner with a very entertaining and friendly waiter.

Comics and Games festival posters in the restaurant
Beef with potatoes and zucchini
Veal scallopini