The Italian Lake District was a very hard place to leave. The scenery is beyond compare, with the lake views or mountains at every turn, and it offers water sports and mountain hikes combined with sophisticated hotels and family-owned restaurants. We were particularly lucky to be staying at Relais Villa Vittoria in Laglio, a classy yet unpretentious small hotel on Lake Como. Our room was elegant without being fancy, and the view was spectacularly romantic. The hotel had a welcoming pool that has one wall of glass, making it appear that it flows right into the lake. 'Unusual, and quite fascinating! Our time for rest after kayaking or hiking could not have been spent in more beautiful surroundings.
An attraction of the Italian Lake District is its proximity to Switzerland. I was determined to go there since I have had a fascination with the Alps since I was young. We traveled a mere two hours north of Laglio to a storybook town named Soglio that time seemed to have forgotten. It met the stereotypical features of Switzerland (Svizzera) with its dramatic mountains, tiny houses, and hilly paths. The drive was easy, though the Italian reputation for fast driving remains intact, and I got the dose of Alpine views that I was craving.
My feeling is that if you're staying on a lake, you had better got onto that lake! We did so by taking a short kayaking trip out of Bellagio, a larger town (quite touristy) on Lake Como. The trip was run by Bellagio Water Sports and Kayak Club, and our tour guide, Mich, could not have been more friendly or helpful. From our very first email contact with him to our final photos and goodbyes, he was reliable and informative. And we got our opportunity to see the land from the water -- a whole new perspective.
Of course, we ate and drank well the entire time we were in Lake Como, and especially liked the local restaurant in Laglio, La Locanda del Cantiere. We never spotted Laglio's celebrity resident, George Clooney, but his home was up the road and, of course, was the object of some curiosity on our parts. I found Laglio to be the perfect place to start our vacation after so many busy months. It is a peaceful setting for some R & R, with enough attractions and activity to keep you going. I hated to leave, though Firenze called, so not a bad place to face next!
A couple of personal notes: The Italian language I've been studying all summer has come in handy, but nearly all of the Italians we encounter speak English. In Florence, I'm getting a little more practice in, and the Italians seem to appreciate my efforts. Also, wi-fi access has been less than reliable, so I'm keeping things short and sweet -- come check out @TravelFan15 on Twitter.