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Monday, July 8, 2024

(Half) Day trips to Cremona, Bergamo and Sirmione (with a toddler)

(Half) Day trips to Cremona, Bergamo and Sirmione (with a toddler)

If you've read this blog for a while, you know I am constantly towing the line between lesser-known places and those that are popular for a reason. I tend to lean to the first, avoiding really touristy areas to find the more hidden gems. This tale of three cities (towns really) are examples on opposite sides of the spectrum, the quiet violin town of Cremona, the more known city of Bergamo, and the very well-known lake town of Sirmione.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

E-Biking the Ponale Road, Riva del Garda Italy


Riva del Garda is a little town and resort haven on the north end of Lake Garda in northern Italy. I dare you to visit and not fall madly in love with this European lake town that is a haven to bike culture. For starters, I had never even heard of Lake Garda (Lago di Garda), Italy's largest lake. It's relatively long and "sliver shaped" and boasts 25 famous picturesque villages like Riva del Garda and Limone to the north and Sirmione to the south.

The town itself is worth the visit, walking around the shops and restaurants with the sweeping views of Lake Garda, but it feels criminal to not take part in the bike culture. The entire drive in to the town is a relay race with speedy cyclists and the atmosphere downtown is no exception. The restaurants all have bike racks and cyclists are often enjoying a beer or gelato out in the sunshine. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Hiking to the Sanctuary on the Summit of Monte Isola


On our last full day in Italy, we decided to end it with a hike to the sanctuary on the highest point of Monte Isola. If you missed the post all about Monte Isola (Europe's largest lake island), you can read it here. While a relatively easy afternoon hike for Adam and I, the elevation and distance was going to prove to be a hurdle for our three year old. Our original plan was to take the bus most of the way, to the last stop on the island for the shuttle in the town of Cure. From there, it would be about a 20 minute walk along the trail to the sanctuary. 

Our plan started to get a bit muddled when we started to plan out the details. Information on the shuttle schedule is very confusing (remember, not a touristy place) and the sign on the ferry made it seem like the shuttle to Cure was a continuous thing. Turns out, we missed the first shuttle and then found out it would be over an hour for the next one. The real kicker? The next shuttle was also after the sanctuary gates closed at 6pm, defeating the whole point of the hike. The good news was that I had packed my Omnibaby kid carrier and we also had or Cybex Libelle travel stroller and just decided to hike a bit, enjoy the view, and turn around when we felt like it.

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Lake Iseo and Monte Isola - Italy's quiet lake and Europe's largest lake island

Lake Iseo and Monte Isola

You probably know the saying, popular places are popular for a reason. Sometimes I embrace this as I head out to do something "touristy" - packed with extra patience and high expectations but often, I try to find the quieter options, stay in the smaller towns. and choose the lesser known attractions. 

When we headed to northern Italy, I got the normal questions "are you visiting Milan? Lake Como? Venice?" and the answers surprised everyone. While I'm sure these places are lovely, I want to travel and not see American tourists, I want to find the local spots and more hidden places. So on my first trip to Italy, we drove right past Milan, decided to skip Como, and saved Venice for another time. 

Monday, May 13, 2024

Riding the Bernina Railway (Italy to Switzerland) - Everything You Need To Know

Bernina Express and Regular Train


We went to northern Italy for nine days and let me tell you   i t   w a s   m a g i c a l . 

We avoided (most) of the touristy places and spaces and truly had an amazing week+ exploring the mountains and lakes of northern Italy. The trip included it all - planes, trains, and automobiles and I fell in love with Italy. 

To be a bit more specific, I fell in love with parts of the country many Americans haven't spent much time in. While busy places tend to be busy for a good reason, I know I prefer natural places and quiet spaces. We skipped Lake Como, passed right on through Milan, and said "Maybe Next Time" to Venice. Instead, we set up home base on one of Italy's lesser known lakes, Lake Iseo, explored beautiful little towns and mountain lakes like Lake Garda, and took an other worldly "commuter train" into Switzerland.

Today's post is all about the latter, our wild train ride into Italy's northern neighbor and how to do it in the least touristy way possible (quiet spaces, natural places). This post is going to be a long one because I have so much to share. The first half is all about the railway, the train cars, and everything you need to know **including why you should skip the panoramic trains and ride the commuter train**. The second part is a recap of our trip. 

Let's talk about Bernina.