Almost exactly one year ago, I took my second trip to Italy. I started off flying to Zurich, Switzerland and ended my trip in Milan. First off, I would like to thank all those on this forum who offered their suggestions. I had such a wonderful time. As a solo traveler, I tend to ask a million questions (or perhaps, because I have so many questions). This report is for those who would love to travel solo, but feel nervous to do so. It has its ups and downs, but overall, I would say "just go". Once you travel solo, you realize how much fun it can be.
So on with this report, as I mentioned, I flew into Milan. I got on a bus right away to get to Stresa. (HTTP://TICKETONLINE.MALPENSASHUTTLE.IT/_EN/PAGINE/STEP_2.CFM).
I highly recommend Stresa if one is looking for a laid back atmosphere to get into the travelling grove. First off, it couldn’t be easier to reach it. I hopped onto the bus ( tip: buy your ticket online as you can’t buy it at the stop). I got off and stepped across the street to Hotel Milan Speranza au Lac. I had a tiny room. Let me say this, no worries. You will not stay in your room. There are so many cafes and restaurants to sit and watch the world go by. I took the ferries right across the street to 2 out of the 3 islands. I was sorry that I didn’t have enough time to explore this little island.
Were there crowds in Italy in August? Yes. Was it hot and humid? Yes. Many other travelers warned me about this, but as a teacher, I only have August to travel. Don’t let this scare you off though. I found plenty of beautiful spaces to be alone and enjoy the quiet, even in Venice.
I also took the ferry to Baveno. I found the market there. I loved the market. I bought a few light shirts and some fruit. I also took a day trip to Lake Orta. I found the bus and went for the day. I ended up spending about half hour on the island and more time walking around the town. It is worth the day trip.
After Stresa, I made my way by train to Verona. So this is where the best laid plans…..I had a ticket to see Carmen at the XXX. I had bought the ticket months and months in advance. Of course, the one night it rained, was the night the arena was cleared out due to a slippery stage. It starts late to begin with and by the time the performers resumed (and the rain let up), it was close to midnight. I stuck it out till I realized I had to walk back to the hotel and it was close to 1:30. I stayed at XXX. It was clean, but it was tucked into a bit of an alley. Honestly, I felt safe as there were still lots of people wandering around and leaving the opera. I would do it all over again.
The next day I had a tour planned with Manuela Uber. I booked a Romeo and Juliet tour through XXX. This was one of my favorite experiences. I highly recommend Manuela as a tour guide. She is a very good guide and a lovely person. As part of this tour, you get to write back as Juilet. I found it to be a very emotional experience. I so wanted to go back to volunteer write again the next day, but I had another plan and couldn’t manage to get everything in. Manuela gave me the name of a small deli type restaurant where I bought a picnic basket of some suggestions of cheese and meat. I had a lovely picnic on their back patio with view of the river. Wouldn’t you agree that those seemingly little moments are what travelling is all about? I will put some of the links at the end of this report.
From there I took the train to Venice. I ended up staying at Hotel Flora. I toyed with a few suggestions for hotels, but I was so happy with my choice. I had the sweetest room with a view onto their inner courtyard garden. Breakfast was served each morning there and their little bar. I have to say, I loved their breakfast too. The staff was very friendly and helpful. I have more to add in a follow up....