On the Edge in Bellagio

Girl in Bellagio Italy
I have never been somewhere before that quite literally takes my breath away looking at it. Bellagio changed that.

When we decided we were going to Como it was a very last minute decision. I didn't have the opportunity to excessively Google and plan out what I wanted to see and do while we were there, which is my usual habit. In some ways, I actually think I had a better time travelling this way as it allowed me to be surprised.

Lake Como is bigger than I ever imagined it would be and so when we bought bus tickets to get from Como to Bellagio I thought it would only be about a 30 minute journey. I was wrong, it was double that. Perhaps in that particular situation it may have been better to Google what we were doing but the trip didn't feel like it took a huge amount of time because the views were absolutely stunning. For anyone who loves long, bendy roads with panoramic views, this would be right up your street.

I don't even know where to begin with describing Bellagio itself. We only got about an hour there in the end, as we spent most of our day in Como, but it is still the highlight of my trip.

When we were on the bus, in between trying to spot George Clooney's lakeside house and debating whether we had in fact seen Robert De Niro earlier that day (I still swear yes), we saw some snow-topped mountains and knew we wanted to head to somewhere that we could get a better view.

It had been a really sunny day and it was fairly windless in Como but walking down towards the point of Bellagio we were fighting a losing battle against the wind. There was some restaurant steps that led down to a docking area and the views from there were like those you find on a postcard! The air hit my lungs as I breathed in and made my hair look as though I hadn't brushed it for a month but I loved every second. It smelt like sea salt and the ocean and reminded me of holidays I went on as a child.

We were the only ones down there for a while but an American woman and her mum offered to take a photo for us and, in a rare moment, we're both smiling at the same time.

I would go back in a heartbeat as I'd love to explore more. Have you been?
Couple in Bellagio Italy

The Duomo from a Different Angle

Milan's Duomo through a window frame If any of you have read my blog before now, you will be well aware of the fact that I am currently living the high-life in Milan. You will have also probably seen the beautiful building that is the Duomo plastered over every single form of social media I own. Sorry - not sorry.

It's actually become a bit of a running joke now. When I first arrived here, I was the ever-so-typical Year Abroad student and snapped away with my camera at anything and everything I saw. In pretty much every set of photos I sent people, photo after photo featured the Duomo standing tall and proud in the September sun.

Obviously the cathedral was widely used as a symbol for Milan long before I ever set my eyes (or camera lens) upon it, but I can't help but laugh whenever I scroll through my Camera Roll and see a fresh batch of photos that I've somehow managed to take. I don't think it will ever really hit me fully that I only live 15 minutes from the marble giant that stands in the centre of the city.

In spite of the fact that I walk past it every day to get to my uni building, and still can't help staring, I was caught by surprise the other week when I was taken to somewhere I could view it from a different angle.

It's still just as amazing.

I'm the first to admit, I'm not a huge museum person. I tend to get bored, overly warm and sleepy when walking round and then find that I've wandered further from an exit than I'd wanted to.

However, a couple of weeks ago I'd been playing the tourist with my friend, Rachel, and we'd had a look round the inside of the Duomo which neither of us had done before. Afterwards she suggested we check out the Museo del Novecento to the side of the Piazza as she'd seen a photo that looked as though it had been taken against the 'office' windows above looking out onto the cathedral. We decided to try our luck in case we could get up to the top and were told it wasn't actually an office but a free museum. The more you know!

We had a bit of laugh at one tv stuck to the wall showing a video following some pigeons in the square but otherwise made our way round pretty quickly. That's until we came to an escalator up to the windows where we managed to spend about 20 minutes taking photos with the shadows and watching people in the square below. I'm so glad Rachel persuaded me to go in as it was amazing to see the Duomo from higher up. I've only been able to see it at that level being stood on it and you don't quite get the full effect of the front side being set against the window frames of the museum.

The shadows made the photos come out quite tumblr/pinterest-esque in the end. If you fancy seeing more you know you can catch my Insta here or click here to see Rachel's.

What places have you seen in a different light recently?

A Last Minute Trip to Pavia

Painted houses on the river bank
If, when you think of Italy, you imagine cobblestone streets and rows of buildings painted in slightly-peeling pastel colours - Pavia is your imagination come alive.

Last Friday, I headed to Milan's Central Station with the aim of escaping the city for the afternoon and an €8 return ticket to Pavia provided me with the perfect excuse.

I'm still so incredibly amazed at just how cheap travelling by train is here. It beats a £50 return ticket from Leicester to Preston to get home from uni in the UK!

Aside from a quick google and looking at a TripAdvisor page, I had no expectations when getting off the train 30 minutes after leaving Milan. I must have looked fairly comfortable though as I was asked for directions twice between leaving the platform and getting to the main station door. Unsurprisingly, I was unable to help out but at least my Italian is now good enough that I was able to explain that I was here for the first time. The ego boost that followed being able to communicate successfully didn't hurt the situation either.

As it's a fairly small town, I found it was possible to walk from the train station to the Duomo in the centre without using a map. In spite of the simplicity of this task, I will admit that I was pretty impressed with myself seeing as I'm normally dependent on my phone to get anywhere and Pavia is somewhere that I've never been before. It was my first small adventure in completely solo-travel, even though it is only a 30minute train ride from Milan...as Tesco reminds us - every little helps!

It sounds anti-climactic, but I can't think of any word better than 'pretty' to describe Pavia. It was exactly that wherever I looked, picture perfect.

After wandering round the streets and main piazzas checking out the Duomo, shops and Basilica San Michele Maggiore I headed down to the covered bridge and snapped a few photos. The sky was changing colours between yellow, pink and blue and I just stood and soaked it in for a while. It may have now been over 6 months since I first moved to Italy but I still can't quite believe my luck at times, I know it sounds cheesy and cliche.

Because I am a student in Milan and not just here for travel reasons, it is easy to find myself in the routine of going to and from class and leaving my day there. It's moments like I had on that bridge, watching the sky and the people sat on the banks that reminds me I'm in a whole other place.

I've been coming to Italy on and off for most of my life, as I said in my Verona post (read here), as it used to be our family holiday destination, and I can't imagine that ending any time soon. However, I only have another 3 months of living in the country and am definitely feeling the need to soak up as much as I can whilst I am still here.

Expect to see many the Instagram post (follow me here!) and more ramblings about Italian life in the coming weeks/months.

Have you been to Milan or Pavia?