I have been so busy since returning from our amazing trip to Italy that I am just now getting together my trip report. Our tour left on September 25th. I tried to write up a journal entry at the end of each day as we went along so I wouldn't forget the details, and was good about that until Siena, where I kind of fell off the wagon. I wanted to write up a shorter report for you all, but I just haven't had the time. So I decided I will share my journal here for anyone interested in reading the novel :) If you have any questions, please feel free to ask! Our overall impression was that this was a lovely trip with a near-perfect itinerary that exceeded all our high expectations, just like our other tours to Scotland and Germany, Austria and Switzerland. We had almost perfect weather, with only one real day of rain, which is unbelievable. I felt like we did not click with our group quite the same way we did on our other tours, but nevertheless found everyone to be considerate and kind and we enjoyed the company of all our tour companions.
Our travel to Italy was a bit rough. We got little-to-no sleep on the plane – our worst flight yet. The seats were as tight as domestic flights; there were no individual air vents, so the cabin was hot and stuffy, and there were no screens for movies at each seat - just a few drop down screens in the middle rows that played 1 movie for the whole flight. It was horrible, definitely the most uncomfortable international flight we have ever taken, and we have sworn off ever flying with American Airlines again (we booked through British Airways, but AA operated this flight). We arrived in Milan tired and cranky and hungry only to end up in line for passport control for an hour. We wandered around Milan Central looking for the baggage dropoff and then waited in line there. We finally made it to the Duomo, which was breathtaking. We immediately went to the mall across the street where we ordered delicious sandwiches and where I dropped my drink on the floor and then fell down a step to the table, garnering stares from the locals. Way to make an impression! After our meal, we felt human again and we visited the Duomo interior and rooftop before heading back to Milan Central and picking up our bags and heading to Varenna. As soon as we arrived here, everything was worth it. Our hotel was beautiful with the most amazing view of the hotel garden and Lake Como from our room. We dropped our bags and then wandered through the beautiful gardens before heading into town to wander about. We finished the day with a lovely dinner at the hotel. I had gnocchi (that was purple!) and tempura vegetables, while David had a steak and a pasta dish with dried meat and a cream sauce. We shared a cheese plate – which was out of this world – and a bottle of wine before heading in to bed. We managed to make it awake until 10 pm! Take that, jet lag!