The last day in Italy. If you had told me when I woke up this morning that by this afternoon I would be ready to head home, I wouldn’t have believed it. But after my “farewell tour” of Varenna this morning, and a trip across the lake to Menaggio, I’m ready for home.
I literally didn’t have a plan for the day when I woke up this morning and sort of decided what to do minute by minute. I started with the usual hotel breakfast (I like pastries and cold cuts as much as the next person, but it’s getting a little old for breakfast every day) and hot chocolate before venturing out into the streets of Varenna. I wandered up and down all the little alleyways, discovered a little church I didn’t realize was open before, and took pictures of all the stairways around town.
Just before 11AM, I took the ferry across the lake to Menaggio. Other than passing through to get the bus yesterday, I hadn’t explored this town yet. Menaggio has less character than Varenna and Bellagio, but still manages to turn on some of the Italian charm. Centered around the lakefront and Piazza Garibaldi, the town is a little more spread out that the others, and does not have many of the stepped alleys I was hoping to find again. In the end, I spent a little over an hour in Menaggio before taking the boat back to Varenna. None of the restaurants in Menaggio appealed to me, so I decided I’d rather go back to one of the lakefront restaurants in Varenna for a mid-afternoon lunch (I bet you can already guess what I’m planning for “dinner”…). I’m sure one reason I’m ready for home is that my allergies kicked into high gear the last couple of days and I’m feeling rather congested and tired. The weather has been beautiful; 75 to 80 degrees and sunny skies every day this week. But that also means all of the flowers and trees are in bloom, which I thankfully haven’t had to deal with at home yet. I have a decongestant with me because I need it for the plane, but I hate taking it if I can get by without it.
Lunch ended up being prosciutto pizza at Bar Nilus (of Day 2’s enormous crepe fame). I had a table in the shade by the lake and I took my time enjoying the meal. Nobody seems to rush you here like they sometimes do at home. When you’re ready to leave, you just flag someone down for the check. Afterwards, I was ready for a nap. I have a love-hate relationship with naps because typically I have a hard time sleeping at night if I take one during the day, but they feel so darn good at the time that they can be awfully hard to resist. The nap won out today, and I actually felt a lot better when I woke up. I managed to repack my suitcase in relatively short order and then sat on the patio reading my book in the sun for a while. Then it was one last aperitivo on the terrace and a gelato from my favorite gelateria before a final walk around Varenna.
I will say it over and over again: the people at this hotel – Hotel du Lac in Varenna – are the nicest people you can hope to meet. They all speak near perfect English and have gone out of their way to be helpful and welcoming the entire week. Tonight when I checked out, they arranged a taxi to pick me up in the morning, and someone will meet me at 6AM to make sure the taxi is here and get me a breakfast to take with me on the train. I would stay here again in a heartbeat, though I don’t know that I will ever return to Varenna. It’s one of those places where I feel like I have seen and done everything there is to do and there are so many other places I want to see in the world… Alas, the fairy tale week must come to an end. The taxi will take me to the train station at 6 o’clock tomorrow morning, and if all goes as planned, I should be home around 8PM tomorrow night (if you’re keeping track, that’s about 20 hours of travel time!).
“Italy is a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life.” ~Anna Akhmatova