Parts 1 and 2 of Joe and Annemarie’s trip to Italy can be read here and here.


Milan has many spectacular sights; however, the best part of our three day stay was seeing one of the most iconic works of art in the world, Leonardo da Vinci’s painting (actually it’s a fresco) of “The Last Supper”.  Luckily, we booked tickets well in advance since when we were last there it was sold out for over a month.  In reality, you make an appointment for a certain day and time and at your appointed time you are allowed in with a group of only 25 people to view the painting for a 15 minute supervised visit.  We booked two separate times over two days so we got to see it twice.

It was painted from 1494 to 1498 and it is a miracle that it is still here for us to marvel at its beauty.  It was created to decorate the wall of the dining room of a monastery and the monks, over the centuries, neglected and partially destroyed the painting.  During World War II, the adjoining wall and roof were destroyed and the painting was exposed to the elements for three years.  It was not until 1979 that a serious effort was made to restore the painting which restoration was not completed until 1999. 

We picked up our rental car in Milan and headed for Stresa on Lago Maggiore the first stop on our driving tour of the northern lake regions as we work our way across Italy to our final destination of Venice.  Stresa is a popular resort on a spectacular lake surrounded by mountains and dotted with islands that have centuries old palaces and gardens to explore.  While in Stresa, we drove along the lake into Switzerland and had lunch in Locarno at the northern end of the lake before returning to Stresa later in the day.

After three relaxing days in Stresa, we headed for the more famous town of Como on Lago di Como for another three days of resort living.  Como is much larger and older than Stresa and less serene. 

Lago di Como is a beautiful lake and we have explored it by boat.  One boat trip was to Bellagio one of the best known and most popular resort towns on the lake.  Another was to Isola Comacina which is the only island on the lake and is uninhabited except for a restaurant that provides an elaborate six course meal from a fixed menu, which we thoroughly enjoyed.  

Lago Maggiore is very picturesque but Lago di Como with its massive luxury hotels along the water and beautiful homes nestled on the hillsides is simply stunning.  Lago Maggiore has a lot of charm while Lago di Como clearly is more substantial and appears to be more affluent.

Our six days in the lake regions were a welcome change from the sightseeing we enjoyed in the larger cities and allowed us time to unwind before our visit to Bergamo for more sightseeing.