This morning Duke and I spent more than four hours getting our covid tests so that they will let us back into the U.S. We spent an hour walking to the train station, we spent an hour waiting in line for our tests, we sent an hour waiting for results and we spent an hour walking back to our room. What a zoo! But we are cleared to travel.
This afternoon we did The Rick Steves walking tour of the Duomo neighborhood of Milan. We went into the massive Duomo.
We went down into the basement under the church and saw the archaeological remains of earlier churches.
We took the elevator and then climbed a bunch of steps to get to the roof of the Duomo. Getting an up close look at the spires and getting to see the view of Milan was very cool.
We walked through the Galleria Victor Emanuele II. And we saw the La Scala opera house.
For dinner we ate at Spazio, a Michelin listed restaurant on the fourth floor of the Galleria Victor Emanuel II, overlooking the Piazza del Duomo. It was an absolutely perfect last supper in Europe. Tomorrow we fly home.
Our trip is almost over. Today we drove to Milan and returned our rental car. It is good we were doing this on a Sunday for a couple of reasons. One, although there was a lot of traffic, it was undoubtedly less than it would have been on a week day. Driving into a big city is always stressful, so it was a huge relief to get the car where it needed to be. The second advantage of arriving on a Sunday is that there was not a big toll for driving in the central city like there would have been on a weekday.
It is quite a relief to have completed 5 car rentals, driving and navigating in four different countries and maneuvering the many narrow roads and tight spaces with no mishaps!
We walked to our hotel but when we rang the buzzer no one answered. We assumed that it was because it was only 1:15 and checking time was 2:00. We shared a pizza at a nearby restaurant while we waited. Finally at 2:00 we figured out that we needed to call a number to be let in. After a few more minutes a guy arrived and we had a room.
For dinner we ate in a very nice restaurant, La Locanda del Gatos Rossi, located in the Galleria Victor Emmanuel II, one of the world’s first shopping malls.
Friday night our hotel was on the western shore of Lake Como. The place we are staying tonight is in the Italian Alps east of Lake Como. So this morning we took the ferry to Belagio, and then drove from there to Cornello dei Tasso.
As we left Belagio we stopped so Duke could do a review of the Fiat 500 we have been driving. I’m thinking I may make Duke’s car reviews s regular feature of this blog!
Once we got off the main roads our drive was slow and beautiful.
Finding our B&B in Cornello dei Tasso was a bit of a challenge. Cornello dei Tasso is a medieval village that is accessible only on foot. It was an important trading center on the road north to Switzerland during the Middle Ages. But at the end of the 1500s a new road passed it by which isolated it and helped ensure it would be preserved. Our B&B is in a beautifully restored old house. Once we got to the end of the road we had to walk a quarter of a mile to get to the B&B.
One of the other buildings in this isolated hamlet is a Trattoria where we ate dinner. Everything was home made and delicious. The homemade pasta was the best.
Then we had cheese polenta, meat, and finally chocolate panna cotta.
The whole dinner including a litre of the house wine cost €37 ($43).
Tomorrow we drive to Milan and turn in our car and Tuesday we fly home.
Friday was a perfect fall day, cool, clear and sunny. So we decided to enjoy the day and our setting by hiking up to the San Martino Church on the mountain above the lake. You can see it on the ledge about half way up the mountain, in the picture below.
The hike was about two miles up and back, with 800 feet of elevation gain. The views were stupendous.
For dinner we ate at Rodrigo Ristorante Pizzeria near our hotel. We started with a meat, pecorino cheese and walnut salad flavored with honey. I don’t know how they put the honey on the salad but it was the only dressing and the salad was fabulous. There was just a hint of honey in every bite.
Then we had pinse. It is the second time we’ve had pinse on this trip. It’s like pizza but the crust is very special. It’s made with different flours and it’s soft and crunchy. I love it. And we had beer instead of wine for a change!
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.
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.
During the afternoon we went for a walk along the lake and had snacks on the terrace.