Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Heaven on Earth

Peacocks on Isola Bella
On the weekend of June 7th, a group of us went on a trip to Northern Italy and Switzerland with a group of locals from Castiglion Fiorentino. On Saturday, we took a six hour bus ride to the town of Stresa which is on the Lago Maggiore a little north of Milan. Being there has been my favorite part about this trip so far. The lake was absolutely beautiful and had a few of the Borromean islands close to the town. It had one of the prettiest views I have seen, but it is so hard to compare them because the landscapes differ so greatly. While we were there, we took a boat to the Isola Bella. There on Isola Bella, which means beautiful island, is the gorgeous Borromean Palace. The palace is extremely ornate and all around beautiful. We were able to take a tour of it and look at the view overlooking the lake and Stresa. The palace is also famous for its elaborate Italian garden. The garden has a few different levels to explore. However, we did not have time to go through the entire garden. At the garden, there were a few white peacocks that would roam around at their own free will. The garden also had a spectacular view, especially from the large "theater" structure in the center. After we finished up with the garden, we took another boat to the neighboring Isola Pescatori. This island seemed much smaller but had cute shops and buildings to look around in. They also had an area to get in the water or just stick your feet in. After our lovely boat ride back to Stresa, we took our bus to Piedmont to stay the night at a hotel.

The Borromean Garden
Lago Maggiore

The Borromean Garden
Isola Bella

The next morning, we all took a panoramic train to Locarno, Switzerland. Riding on the panoramic train was extremely relaxing and we had a great view of the Swiss Alps. We crossed over small rivers and went through small towns. The experience was great and I feel like I was able to see a lot of the beauty of Switzerland for being there for such a short amount of time. Locarno is also located on Lago Maggiore which was just as beautiful as it had been the day before. We spent about two hours exploring the town and shopping. During our visit, a beach volleyball tournament was occurring so many of the locals had come out to watch it. We did not have enough time to go, but it looked like a lot of fun. There were many cute shops and small cafes; however, since it was Sunday, most of the stores were closed. We were able to find a chocolate store though and bought a ton of delicious Swiss chocolate. We then got back on our bus and rode seven hours back to Castiglion Fiornetino. Overall, that weekend was one of my favorites thus far, and may stay my favorite for the trip. I am excited to see what these next couple of weeks have in store for us though. But for now, Ciao!

View from panoramic train in Switzerland

Bethany Kennedy

Lago Maggiore in Locarno, Switzerland

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