Bellissimo Italia

Deccan Chronicle.  | Raunak Kundu

Lifestyle, Travel

Charming, historic, a country you can fall in love with, this city-based writer explores the quaint and picturesque Lombardy region of Italy.

Wine valley around Lake Garda

Italy is a chronicle of history, visually captivating with picturesque landscapes. Every corner of the country has its own unique testimony. In my travels across the country, are few cities that are not only interesting but also invigorating.

Magical Milano
On the first stop at the Lombardy region of Italy, we find Milan a city to reckon with in terms of fashion, culture and food. Get to the hot spot of the city — Piazza Del Duomo with its high-end boutiques featuring haute couture, and the oldest shopping mall Galleria Vittoria Emanuele, showcasing luxury brands and numerous outdoor cafes dotting the cobbled street. A little walk down the street is the magnificent epicentre of the city, the second largest church in Italy, Milan Cathedral followed by a must-visit to Santa Maria Della Garzia to witness and assimilate Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece The Last Supper. Be sure to take a walk down Navigli Grand Canal district to experience a whiff of Venice, and enjoy the nightlife with a young and cosmopolitan crowd.

Beautiful Bellagio
It is an hour’s journey from Milano Central Station to Como District by train; a picturesque locale at the confluence of Switzerland and Italy. The most fascinating shore town of the Lake District is Bellagio. It has an upscale essence to it with a visibly affluent class of tourists. I overheard people saying that James Bond Spectre was filmed at Como. As you approach Bellagio by yacht, instinctively, there is an urge to capture the picture-perfect shot of colourful interspersed villas nestled in nature. The mantra of the trip is to sit back and relax, find a nice spot at a bistro on the beautiful landscaped promenade overlooking the lake, and sip on some great wine and seafood. Get lost in the quaint spiralling up alleys which are bordered by a multitude of local shops displaying silk merchandise, ceramic wares, baubles and knick knacks.

Vivacious Verona
Verona is immortalised by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, every love-struck crooning tourist pays homage to Juliet’s balcony here. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with one of the largest Roman amphi theatres in the country “the Arena.” Take time out to watch a musical in the evening. Take one of the many organised tours from Verona to the surrounding wine valley around Lake Garda, known for its white, sparkling and Rose wines.

Lost in Venice
The last leg of the trip ends at Venice, by the Adriatic Sea. One of the most fascinating cities in Europe, it was the wealthiest trade centre in the middle ages though its current economy is driven mostly by tourism. Even with a city map in hand, you are bound to lose track. Take a Venetian Gondola ride to reach Piazza San Marco marked by the column of the winged lion of Venice.

Visit the Byzantine-Venetian-inspired Doge’s Palace, the institutional chambers with elaborate artwork by Tintoretto is a site to behold. The city is an inspiration to artists and a confirmation of Europe’s and Italy’s rich history and culture. Take a vaporetti ride to the next island of Murano, which specialises in the most exquisite glass work, attend a session of glassware making and buy some memorabilia to take back home. Italy is the land nirvana for a gourmand. It’s home to thin crust pizzas, aged prosciutto ham, artisan cheese, hand-crafted ravioli and delicious gelato, all can be mopped down with some vintage wines, effervescent proseccos and post meal limoncello shots.

—  The city-based writer is working in Europe, and revels in exploring quaint towns and cobbled streets. This travelogue is from his recent trip
to the Lombardy region of Italy.