My Birthday Celebration: Bellagio, Sirmione, Milan and Venice


The charming streets of Bellagio

So, I had a big birthday this month. We celebrated with a very special trip to Northern Italy. The trip included glam little villages on Lakes Como and Garda, plus Milan and Venice. I had been to the region on a work trip a few years ago and wanted to return with my husband. Matter of fact, this trip was extra special because it was the first trip in about 5 years that wasn’t a work trip or with friends, family or kids! Just the two of us – and it was heaven!

A stop at the charming village of Varenna on Lake Como

Because of my husband’s work schedule, we squeezed a lot into a week including a private boat tour on Lake Como. We stopped at several villas including Villa del Balbianello – which I just spied in the new movie, House of Gucci! We also toured the historic Sforza Castle and saw the Last Supper in Milan. We also took a touristy gondola ride in Venice and toured the Basilica de San Marco and the Doge’s Palace. We even hiked into the hills above Tremezzo with a guide telling us about the history of the village and the people that have lived there for hundreds of years. These were all memorable experiences, but the best part was strolling with my husband, stopping at the cafés for a prosecco and a bite to eat.

Villa del Balbianello

We stayed at some very nice hotels including the Belmond Cipriano Hotel in Venice, hotel of the rich and famous (it was a BIG birthday and a special hotel was required!), founded by Giuseppe Cipriani of Harry’s Bar fame and good friend of Earnest Hemingway. All the hotels we stayed in were wonderful, but the Cipriani is something everyone should experience at least once in their life. You are on Giudecca island, so you must take a boat to Venice – a 7-minute ride, that makes you feel as special and glamorous as Venice. They even have a famous bartender, Walter, who created the Buona Notte cocktail with George Clooney! There is a garden with bunnies and a vineyard too. It’s like dying and going to Italian heaven! I cannot say enough about this beautiful place, except that you must go at least once...maybe for a big birthday or other special occasion?

Enjoying the town of Sirmione on Lake Garda

This special vacation was perfection even in the midst of a pandemic. Here is a quick overview of the requirements to go to Italy at that time. Of course, rules are continuously changing and different airlines and countries handle these things different ways. The point is that it was fairly easy to do:

  • Take a PCR Test (48 hours prior to flight time)

  • Complete the European Union Digital Passenger Locator Form

  • Bring your CDC Vaccination Cards (for US Citizens)

  • Take an Antigen Test (24 hours prior to the flight home), print results and/or upload to your airline as directed.

Was it worth it to travel? Yes! And, really except for wearing masks indoors, everything was “normal.” There were tons of people enjoying Italy, restaurants were buzzing with activity and everyone was having an Aperitivo at the local bars. I highly recommend it.


Aperitivo Lagoon Front at famed hotel Londra Palace

Are you ready to go to Italy…or somewhere else? Give me a call at 703-969-4311 to talk about it. While the Covid rules keep changing, I can walk you through it, and help make it an unforgettable trip and as easy as possible.

Venice from the top of the Basilica San Marco


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