Monday, June 9, 2014

A Little Slice of Heaven

     SH: And just like that another week has flown by. With trips to an agriturismo and a pizza making class in Castiglion Fiorentino as well as visiting Siena, Pienza and Montepulciano, we had a fun and busy week. I would have to say my favorite part of the week was the trip we took to northern Italy and Switzerland on the weekend. The day started off with a 4 am wake-up call but as soon as the bus reached the town of Stresa located on the shore of Lago Maggiore, I realized that it was well worth the lack of sleep. Looking out the windows I saw a massive lake with mountains in the distance. The street was lined with adorable buildings and hotels. I could not wait to go exploring. What I did not know yet was that the island we would visit after lunch would be even more stunning.

Lago Maggiore

Palace Garden
     After lunch we went on a boat over to Isola Bella which translates to Beautiful Island. The majority of the island was covered by a vast palace built by the Borromeo family who were wealthy merchants who later adopted the profession of banking. The rooms inside the palace were incredible with all the detail and the artwork. It was somewhat difficult knowing what the tour guide was talking about because he was speaking Italian. Luckily, there were some short printed descriptions in each room in several languages so I could figure out the high points.  The palace garden was breathtaking with the sculptures, blooming flowers and several white peacocks strutting around. The flowers were all double the size of what I am used to seeing and very vibrant. Sadly we only had 30 minutes to explore but I could have spent several hours there looking around and feeling relaxed. The unicorn can be seen in many paintings and statues as it was one of the symbols of the family.
     The next day we took a panoramic train through Switzerland and the views were once again fantastic. Passing through the Alps was awe-inspiring and made me want to go zip-lining through the country. We stopped in Locarno, Switzerland and had a couple hours to look around. The town was also located on Lago Maggiore and we were treated to some more amazing views. I was able to find some Swiss chocolate which I am very excited about since I am a huge chocolate lover. Overall the whole weekend was amazing and I am still shocked that there are towns that exude such beauty. 

Isola Bella

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