Back in Amsterdam I am getting used again to the Amsterdam lifestyle, meaning: a lot of walking around the city with occasional stops at a terrace drinking a beer, while people watching; daily shopping for food; living the "fishbowl lifestyle", meaning never closing the drapes. I am gradually getting to that stage, that writing a blog about our Italy trip has a more reflective tone. It feels more like story telling.
A one hour train trip brought us to Varenna, where the weather was overcast and windy. Not the ideal weather to enjoy a beautiful lake, that shines when basking in sunshine, but under cloudy skies it looks and feels cold and doom-like, if there is such a word.
We tried to sit on our verandah for a while, but fled back into the warmer confines of our hotel bedroom. The days in Varenna brought us a trip by ferry up and down to Bellagio, a real tourist town with lots of shops and restaurants, narrow stairway alleys and a cutesy feel, but the rest of our time we spent walking around our less visited more authentic town as it sits perched against a mountain, overshadowed by the remnants of the feudal castle that in long gone days protected Varenna.
Beautiful gardens and a villa turned museum were our pastime, besides reading and eating out. I hope the pictures will show our "misfortune" best.
Returning by train to Milano we pickup our cute Fiat 500 convertible and travelled to Brescia for the night, from where we drove to the town of Tirano, from where we took the Swiss Bernina Express high up into the alps to the well known town of St Moritz, where famous people may have a vacation home.
The prices in the stores there indicated, that at least the shopkeepers felt they could survive catering to men or women who will spend 1300 euro for a cashmere sweater.
We had a cabin section in the train all to ourselves and marveled about the trip of this train climbing 7% slopes while doing multiple switchbacks, that brought us to 2328m/7638 ft heights, where eye blinding white snow and a manifold of skiers and ice sailers greeted us (some literally).
Returning the next day by same route to our little car brought different views that charmed the eyes.
From there we travelled over byways to Turino, finding ricefields on our way which startles you and makes you wonder how we could have mistakingly taken a turn to Asia, until one realizes that somebody has to grow Arborio rice in Italy.
Turino was the big surprise on this trip. Although I knew that the kingdom of Savoy had its capital here, preceded by dukes and other overlords, the splendor of this city, showing centuries of wealth and the fact that even the suburbs were showing consistently buildings from the 19th century and before, made Turino a city worth revisiting.
We visited Palazzo Madama on the picture below, named after two Queens of the House of Savoy, most notable was Margherita of Austria an illegitimate daughter of Emperor Charles V, who married an illegitimate son of the Medici family. The ornate facade was not of her doing, but she did order quite some interior decorating work.
We lodged on the outside of town near the single 8 mile long metro that was completed in stages between 2006 and 2011. This metro is a jewel and heavily travelled as well as being profitable and it made our efforts to see as much as possible in a short time so much easier.
Our only regret was that the Duomo, housing the famous Shroud of Turin, was closed because of renovations, which makes us more determined to return one day.