Welcome to Lake Como, Italy

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6 weeks in Italy is a long time to try and blog about...at least, not like I did with the Egypt and France trip.  So, I'm going to do my best to just talk about the highlights of the trip and not so much the day to day.  
I'm blessed that this was my second trip to Lake Como.  Six years ago I visited this beautiful piece of Earth with my husband.  We were celebrating our 1 year wedding anniversary, and we stopped in for the day in Como on our way to Venice.  We took the slow ferry ride to Bellagio and just enjoyed wandering the streets.  It was a wonderful time and it really stuck in my memory.  
So that's why, when the time came to find a place to spend the 5 weeks of Ramadan, Lake Como came to mind.  I was trying to stay as far north as I could in hopes I could escape the heat.  I knew that Florence and everywhere south could be wicked hot in the summer, and well, I have that here in Saudi...no interest in melting in Italy!
I spent weeks searching for the perfect place (meaning one that was in our budget).  I surfed VRBO, HomeAway, FlipKey and lord knows what other small sites.  I almost don't want to share where I found this gem because I want it always available for me to return.  :) 
First let me just fill you in a bit about this gorgeous lake.  Lago di Como is home to many small towns and villages.  The major players are Como itself, Bellagio, Varenna, Menaggio, Tremezzo, Lecco, and Colico.  There are others such as Aregeno and Lenno that have wonderful little things to see too.  It is surrounded by beautiful green mountains where you can spot random homes and towns and wonder how in the world they built those up there!  There are wonderful trails for hiking and you'll always see road cyclists braving the traffic and steep hills.  The people are very friendly and very proud of their lake.  It has made such an impact on me that I feel I left a part of myself back on that lake.  
After all my searching, I found the perfect house.  Let me just say, the best part about this house is the owner.  You could not ask for a better man to help you with ANYTHING while you are staying in his home.  Fabio was amazing and I can't thank him enough for everything he did for me over the weeks.
The house itself is just has wonderful.  Coming in at a young 500 years old and situated in the historic Castello above the town of Menaggio.  (pronounced Men-Ah-Jo)  Its nestled among other homes and we came to know the neighbors very well.  The girls played with the neighbor kids and we even got invited to dinner a few times.  (A-mazing)  The house was two stories and had some lovely views of the lake (ok, we weren't on the lake, but I didn't care...I wouldn't have wanted to stay anywhere else)  Menaggio has a beautiful piazza right on the lake front.  A beautiful park with playground and even a merry-go-round.  It's by far my favorite town on the lake and I'm so, so glad that we stayed there and not anywhere else...
So, let me walk you through a typical day for me and the girls while we were there alone... (before my mom or Matt arrived)
We'd wake in the morning and the girls would start playing with their princesses right away (yes, we dragged 20lbs worth of princess figurines with us...best idea I've ever had).  I would head to the kitchen and cook up some eggs and pancetta (it's all about the pork baby).  We'd eat breakfast and talk about what we wanted to see that day.  First we would head to the grocery store to get food for dinner and snacks.  I'd grab my little rolling shopping bag (best thing I bought during the whole trip) and we'd head...down.  
The house is uphill from the main piazza...so, down we would go.  You could either take the steps or walk down the cobble stone path.  The girls loved taking the stairs...so, down we would go...155 steps (yes we counted them)...and then walk a bit more to the store.  We'd stop at the market that just sold veggies and fruits first.  Just remember...no self service!  You point and ask and they grab and bag.  My Italian got good enough that I could ask for almost any veggie/fruit in Italian, and if I couldn't well, they would help teach me.  From there we would head to the regular grocery store...nothing fancy, but we had fun picking out new things to eat each night.  (pork, pasta, pork, pasta...oh yeah..and wine, wine, wine!)  
Then it was back UP to the house.  I would indulge the girls and walk back up the 155 steps carrying the damn grocery bags.  Lemme tell you...I didn't feel bad about eating tons of pasta...I worked it off every day!! (I should also mention that 9 times out of 10 it was HOT outside!  and humid...so yeah, so much for escaping the damn heat!...no AC in the house either...thank god for open windows and breezes!)  Groceries put away and then back DOWN.  (see, almost all the stores close from 12-4...so you better get what you need early!)  We'd walk all the way back down to the piazza (taking the cobble path)...and head over to the ferry landings.  We'd have picked a town and we'd get our tickets, jump on the ferry, and cruise across the lake.  I just loved it on the ferry, the breeze was so cooling and just staring at the water, the mountains, the towns...so serene.  
And there we would go...to visit Como or Varenna, or maybe Bellagio...or Tremezzo or Argeno.  We'd wonder through the towns...eating gelato and for the most part having a grand time.  (no, the kids were not angels for 5 weeks, but let me tell you, those girls were amazing...aside from a few blips here and there, they were just a blast to be with...and we did ALOT of walking...)
We'd ferry back home...and walk back UP.  lol...what a workout.  They'd play while I'd cook dinner.  After dinner we would Skype daddy and tell him all about our day and how we couldn't wait to cheer him on as he tried to hike up the street.. :)  Then after they were tucked in bed, I'd pour some wine (okay, okay...I have another glass of the wine I'd opened while cooking dinner)...and curl up on the couch and read a book with the Olympics on in the background. 
Some days we would just chill in the house, the girls would play and I would take my lunch, glass of wine and my book and sit out on the little terrace.  I'd wave to the neighbors and the tourists wandering through the Castello...it was so peaceful.   
It was beyond wonderful and I truly enjoyed every single day.  I'll talk more about the other towns in a future post...  :)      


Quick Life Update...

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Good lord, where do I begin???  So much has happened in the last few months that it makes my head spin trying to remember it all.
Lets start with my trip back to the States first.  I left in June and got to spend a wonderful 5 weeks back home with family.  (arriving after 3 planes and 32 hours of travel)  My husband could only stay a few days...so, the girls and I spent time at different family members homes.  Visiting, going out to dinner, getting doctor checkups, hair appointments, the works.  I indulged in mass amounts of sushi (and wine).  We celebrated my birthday and even got to see fireworks for the 4th of July.  It was so wonderful to be home and it just makes me appreciate even more just how special the good ol' USA is.
We flew back to Saudi (3 planes and 32 hours later)...but it was a short visit, just two weeks.  I was leaving for Italy next!
With the holy month of Ramadan approaching, (and the fact that almost all of my friends had jumped ship for the summer months) I knew I didn't want to stay in Saudi with the girls (especially since we don't live on a compound).  So months back I booked a lovely little house on Lake Como, Italy for 5 weeks.  Later we found out that my aunt and uncle would be in the area and we ended up meeting with them week 6 in Positano.  
I was so lucky that my mom was able to come and spend a whole month in Italy along with my step-dad...we all had so much fun together and the girls were so happy to see Grandma and Papa!
After 6 AMAZING weeks in Italy, we headed back to Saudi.  The hubby met up with us for weeks 5 & 6 and flew back with us.  
So, here we are.  Home in Saudi.  And it's been a whirlwind already!  The girls have started school and there are some other things in the works which I shall blog about in due time.  ;)
And don't worry, I plan to blog about my fabulous trip and the place we visited and of course there will be many pix (I only have 2500 photos to go through and edit)  ;)  Only picking the best for the blog of course.  
So, many posts to come...sorry for the long absence.  But we're back up and running now!  :)  Ciao!

(okay...one little sneak peak pic...this is the lovely town I stayed in for 5 weeks.  Menaggio, Italy)  :D
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