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Lake Como, a lake surrounded by beautiful scenery

Como is a town right on the Italian-Swiss border at the southern end of Lake Como. The area is pretty and has a lot of history to impress anyone who will visit. Due to its beauty and uniqueness through the ages, it has been a popular destination for filming movies such as Oceans Twelve with George Clooney (who owns a villa in Como Lake) and James Bond 007 – Casino Royale.   Also, many famous people have or have had homes on the shores of Lake Como, including Madonna, George Clooney, Gianni Versace, Sylvester Stallone etc. Reaching Como Our journey started from Verona where we got the train from Verona to Milan / Expo. From Milan Expo we changed trains and got the one which goes up to Como. Lake Como The Lake, as you can see on the map, is an upside down Y shape. Como, on South-West and Lecco on the South-east will lead you up to Colico in the North. Around the Lake there are many small towns, each one with its own unique characteristic and history. The plan was to take the ferry from Como and go up to Tremezzo and on our way back to Milan, take the train from Varenna. The ferry from Como stops at most of the towns’ en-route so you can get off where ever you like. It took us around 4 hours to get to Cadenabbia but it was worth the wait. There are so many nice landscapes to enjoy such as villas, palm trees, gardens, flowers etc. Grand Hotel Cadenabbia We booked to stay at Cadenabbia, across Bellagio, at the Grand Hotel Cadenabbia. This was the best stay of all during my visit in Italy. We booked a lake view room which was great! The room was on the 4th floor, large and clean. It felt that I was in a cruise ship! The first night we had the 35 menu per person which served us nice food which was worth the price. Having your breakfast with the lake view is priceless. Near the hotel there are a few nice [...]

2018-02-23T09:14:26+03:00December 16th, 2015|

Verona, the city of romance, opera and tastes

Verona, charming and romantic, is well known for the story of Romeo and Juliet. It’s a small city that you can see in a day or two – it depends on your schedule and what kind of traveler you are. Verona was in my plans when I traveled to Northern Italy and combined Venice, Verona, Como and Milan. After visiting Venice, the next destination was Verona. We got the speed train from Venice which was around 1 hour. We planned 2 days – actually 1 and a half day. Most travelers prefer to dedicate one day since its small and there is not much to see. The small city center is enjoyable and you can discover everything by feet. If you are dedicating only one day here, make sure to arrive early in the morning. Staying We stayed at the Hotel Italia, which is a nice hotel on a budget. The basic room provided all the necessary comforts. The hotel is located near the bus station which you can take and get to the city center. The hotel provides you free breakfast and free wifi and you can certainly enjoy a drink on the terrace. Things to See & Do Verona Arena, in Piazza Bra, is the Roman amphitheater, an impressive structure made of bricks and red marble. Although it’s aged and it still hosts some of the most famous musical operas, concerts, and other events. We paid to enter the Arena and were amazed by the inside. The afternoon we visited they were setting up for ‘AIDA’ that was going to be played on the same night and decided to buy tickets to experience this. I’m not into opera but I was curious to experience one. The ticket was 25 EUR. The language was Italian, I couldn’t understand a word but I knew the story so I could sort of figure out what was going on. Juliet’s balcony represents the tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet. It’s located In an old building right in the city of Verona. There’s a bronze statue in the courtyard which represents Juliet and [...]

2018-02-23T09:14:26+03:00December 14th, 2015|

20 Venice Facts you need to know

There’s a lot travel information, holiday ideas and travel advice about Venice on the web so after visiting Venice I decided to post some interesting Venice facts. To be honest I had no idea about most of the following and I only found out after going there and reading about the Venetian town. Venice was the major Mediterranean maritime power during the 14th to 16th centuries. Venice is one of the most important tourist destinations in the world Venice consists of 118 small islands separated by 177 canals and linked by 416 bridges. The canals and bridges are the main routes of commutation. The main entrance of the houses and buildings are always on the side of a canal. The Venice lagoon is 15 meters deep at its deepest point. The buildings of Venice are constructed on millions wooden platforms places in the sea. The city is often threatened by flood tides pushing in from the Adriatic between autumn and early spring. Acqua alta is a natural phenomenon that forces water from the Adriatic into the Venetian lagoon causing the level of tide (the rise and fall of sea level) up to 80 cm. Venice is sinking at the rate of 1-2 millimeters a year.   There are about 350 gondolas and 400 gondolieri. Only 3-4 gondolier licenses are issues every year The first public casino was born here in 1638. Venetians loved to wear the masks for any possible occasion, and many laws were made to specify when, where and who was allowed to walk around with a mask. Famous Venetians include Marco Polo, Antonio Vivaldi and Casanova. Calletta, or Ramo Varisco Street, is one of the narrowest streets in the world - only 53 cm wide. The San Marco bell tower, the tallest bell tower in Italy, collapsed in 1920 and was rebuilt again. The city is visited by 18 million tourists a year, on average 50,000 a day. The progressive sinking of Venice is making the locals move out. It is expected that in 2030 Venice may be a ghost town, populated only with tourists, coming in at morning until evening. So now I’m sure [...]

2018-02-23T09:14:26+03:00September 1st, 2015|

Murano & Burano: The Venetian lagoon Islands

Visiting Murano & Burano Islands is the best way to spend your time away from Venice’s busy crowds during summertime. I’ve heard of these two islands of the Venetian lagoon, but never thought I was ever going there until now that I visited Venice. We got the Vaporetto (water bus) from Venice early in the morning and firstly got off at Murano and then moved on to Burano Island. With a €20 day ticket you can use the Vaporetto as much as you wish for 24 hours so this was a good opportunity to take a trip to these two islands. There’s no point to pay for a private tour on these islands or take a private taxi to get there. The Vaporetto is the cheapest solution to take you there. You’ll need to half a day in order to visit both. To be honest, we went to the kiosk shop to purchase a Vaporetto ticket and the owner advised us to get the 24 hour ticket and visit first Murano, have lunch in Burano and take the Vaporetto via Lido to come back to Venice. Murano – the island of glass Murano is famous for glassmaking and until today it still preserves the secrets of antique glass manufacturing. The skilful techniques and skilled hands have produced some amazing pieces.  As soon as you get of the Vaporetto you will see factory glasses and many shops selling glass. You can’t miss Campo Stanto Stefano spot with the abstract blue glass sculpture in the middle of the square. It’s Large enough to amaze you. We didn’t have the chance to visit a factory glass since they are closed during summer because of the hot weather (in order to manufacture glass they use heat) which makes it unbearable for the workers. Authentic Murano glass is very expensive but it’s beautiful. We entered some shops displaying and selling Murano glass sculptures and jewellery and they were stunning. We were amazed. Be careful when buying Murano glass and have in mind that authentic glass holds a trademark ‘Vetro Murano Artistico’.  Avoid buying cheap glass from souvenir [...]

2018-02-23T09:14:26+03:00August 26th, 2015|

20+1 Italy facts you need to know

Italy facts you need to know I just got back from an 8-day holiday trip, travelling in Northern Italy (Venice, Verona, Como and Milan) and made a list with some things you should know about Italy. So here’s a list of a some Italy facts you need to know. 1. You pay a city tax per night to stay in a hotel. The price is based on the star rating of the hotel. 2. Avoid eating or having coffee near touristic attractions. You’ll get ripped off. 3. Aperitivo is a tradition that you may find in some bars. You pay a fixed price e.g. €10, and you can get a drink and eat as much as you can from the buffet (Which includes chips, pizzas, potatoes, meatballs, desserts - it depends where you go). 4. As soon as you sit in a restaurant they will bring you bread-sticks and bread - no butter, no olive oil. See the next point.  5. You are obliged to pay for the service; this is called Coperto (they charge you to sit down and they bring the bread), which is around €1.50 - €3 (it depends where you go). 6. Order house wine – it’s much cheaper than bottled wine. 7. Pizza Margherita is the cheapest pizza you can eat. 8. Italians do not serve tap water, only bottled. 9. You are not required to leave tips at the restaurant. 10. You are not obliged to order all courses e.g. antipasti, first course, second course and dessert. Even with first (usually pasta, risotto) you will feel full. 11. Standing in a bar is cheaper than sitting down. 12. You have to pay to enter the toilet in public places. 13. Buy your public transportation tickets before, you cannot buy them on the bus or tram. 14. Validate your ticket before you board otherwise you’ll get in trouble. 15. You can't pay with a card if the total is less than €10 so always make sure you have cash with you. 16. Some stores and restaurants have a day off during the week (usually Monday) so you might [...]

2018-02-23T09:14:27+03:00August 17th, 2015|

Palermo, chaotic streets with magnificent buildings

I knew Palermo from the game ‘Night falls in Palermo’ but I never thought that I had the chance to go there. ‘Night falls in Palermo’ is game of Mafia were you have to lie a lot in order to convince that you are innocent.  The game must have taken its name from the Sicilian Mafia in Sicily. They say that it's a group which the public calls them as Mafioso’s who are involved in illegal activities and agreements. Palermo is the regional capital of Sicily. Actually if you conduct a little research online you’ll see that it’s described as the most cosmopolitan city of Sicily. So once again, I was in Palermo for work. Accommodation Although my meeting was hosted in Carini (a small town outside Palermo) I choose to stay in the city center in order to see the city. Carini is nicely located near the beach but it has nothing else. I stayed at the Grand Hotel Federico II which is located very centrally in a quiet street. From here you can access on foot the city's must see spots, shops and restaurants. The room was large, clean and provided all the important facilities such as stable free wifi, TV and a mini bar. The breakfast options were good. Exploring Palermo My personal advice is to see Palermo on foot. You will enjoy the streets and discover hidden buildings, churches that you are most likely to miss if you take the public transportation. I did the double-decker bus tour and had the chance to see all the main points of the city. You can start the tour from Teatro Politeama Garibaldi. You’ll njoy the ride since you’ll get to see many historical and magnificent buildings, main city points and pass from busy streets while you listen to the history of each attraction.   However when the tour ended I walked since I like walking and you can explore the city better on foot. I discovered La Cala, a small beautiful harbor near the port. As I was walking from La Cala towards Piazza Novanno Meli in about 2m in front of [...]

2018-02-23T09:14:27+03:00October 28th, 2014|

Bergamo, a city in Lombardy

A short stay in Bergamo I've never thought of travelling to Bergamo, Italy. Even though there are direct flights from Cyprus to Bergamo - Milan, most people take the plane, land in Bergamo and go directly to Milan and other Italian cities and don't visit Bergamo. The purpose of the trip was to travel to Pisa for a Business meeting with a colleague, and the only suitable way to travel there, was to take a Ryanair flight from Paphos to Bergamo, then travel to Milan and from there take the train to Pisa. So according to our schedule, we planned a one night stay in Bergamo in order to get the train the next day to Pisa. Taking the Taxi We arrived in Bergamo at about 8 at night and got a taxi from the airport to the old town. The cost was 30 Euros, fixed price, which seemed quite expensive considering the distance from the airport to the hotel but the driver indicated that the price is fixed. We went straight to the AgnelloD'Oro Hotel. The Hotel To be honest, we didn't expect the hotel to be that nice. The location was in the heart of the medieval town. It's a nice cosy hotel, whilst the decoration downstairs is all over the place. Too much! But I guess that's the hotel's concept. We paid 50 Euros for each single bedroom which included breakfast. Most important thing was that the hotel was very clean and the people there were very friendly and helpful. Spectacular Views The town has two parts, the upper city which is called 'Citta Alta' and the lower city known as the 'Citta Bassa'. The two parts are connected by the funicular and footpaths. Through these you can enjoy the spectacular views from both parts. We walked from the upper city to the lower city and enjoyed the views from both parts. You should walk all around the old city via the 'viale mura' and 'della fara' road/paths.   Food & Drink Before visiting Bergamo we checked Tripadvisor and found a few places we could dine & [...]

2018-02-23T09:14:27+03:00October 25th, 2013|