Life in Lake Como (No G+A sightings, yet!)

Lake Lugano in Switzerland and Lake Como in Italy are only about 30 minutes away from eachother, but they couldn't be more different in my opinion. Lugano has steep cliffs and tall mountains, and Como has smaller mountains and more expansive viewpoints. We left our beloved Hotel Moosmann on Thursday morning to make our way to the small town of Cernobbio on Lake Como in Italy.

Lake Como has so many towns and I found during my research of which one to settle on that everyone has varying opinions of which is the best. Menaggio, Ravenna, Bellagio, Laglio, Cernobbio... how does one choose?! What we ended up doing is deciding on the town that had the exact type of villa or home we were looking to stay in. We have a car so proximity to towns wasn't a problem for us, and we knew we wanted to rent a place where we could cook on our own for a few nights. I also consulted listings on Airbnb first (as I always do) to see what they had to offer in all of the Lake Como villages.

We discovered a few villas that we absolutely loved, and Lake Como is a popular summer holiday spot because back in January, we were too slow (by only a couple of days!) and villas we were interested in had already booked up. We decided to jump on this rental ( so that we wouldn't lose another one to someone who jumped quicker than us, and looked forward to 4 nights on the hillside in Cernobbio.

Our home has so much character! It was carved into a hillside so the rock you see in the photos is real rock throughout the house. The owners are also musicians, so they painted the white steps like piano keys and have instruments for use inside. There are also three large patios with balconies overlooking the lake, and we are the highest villa on the hillside so we have (literally) the best views in town.

After eating out for the last week or so, we were looking forward to buying our own groceries to prepare some Italian breakfast, lunches and dinners and save some money. I'll be writing a post this week about how we are affording a trip like this and what our daily budget has looked like, but this particular stay has been great because it's been so refreshing not to spend any money each day. ;)

Coming into Italy from Switzerland was SO wonderful in a number of ways, but financially probably the most so. The euro is 1.09 right now to the USD-- the lowest at any point that I've ever seen it! It's fantastic because basically the price in euros is the price in dollars and things in Italy are relatively cheap compared to European standards.

We discovered this huge Fred Meyer-like grocery store in Cernobbio called "Bennet" and while we were totally overwhelmed at the available offerings we could buy and the organized shopping experience of it all, we stuck with what we knew (tomato sauce, garlic, fresh pasta, bread, cheese, water, Coca-cola...) and purchased enough items for all the meals of our 4 1/2 days at our Airbnb rental. Our entire bill came to 70 EUR, which also included some extras like charcuterie, fruit, tomatoes, gelato, pesto and more. Four days worth of eating was the same price as one dinner in Switzerland!! I could get used to this kind of spending. :)

After leaving the Bennet, we drove up windy, windy Italian hills (think Fast & the Furious or The Italian Job) and made our way round dozens of one-way corners until we reached our villa. The pictures of this place seriously don't do it justice. We were absolutely stunned at the views, the various levels (there is a garden level for BBQing and sitting, a level for eating dinner on the patio, a patio level for drying clothes and laying out after a shower, and even a patio balcony off the master bedroom for taking in the views, morning or night.) You can experience Lake Como views from at least 4 different levels.

Our hosts left breakfast for us, many different ingredients for cooking in the pantry, coffee, travel guides of the area, binoculars for taking in the view, and even have movies in Italian and an XBOX 360 for playing Gran Turismo!

Another great perk of our villa is that our host is the brother-in-law to a popular chef in Cernobbio, and they have offered to cook us a three course Italian meal tonight with coffee, and dessert for an added supplement. Somehow we keep getting lucky in booking these rentals of village chefs without knowing it!

Settling into "home" life for a few days was a bit challenging in the beginning, though. We bought gelato and then discovered that our home didn't have a freezer. They also don't have paper towels and only sponges for cleaning used by previous guests. (My OCD-ness couldn't get over that and I had to go and buy my own sponges for cleaning at the Bennet store...) They have a washer but no dryer (common again in Europe), and the washing instructions are completely in Italian so I had to consult some FB friends & Google Translate to figure it out! I also had to Google a photo of the oven because the settings are completely different than ones at home, and I didn't want to burn our pizzas... They also only have a small one-cup Italian coffee pot (like the one seen here:)

... which we are now obsessed with and will definitely be purchasing when we get home. We had to figure out how to use this for one cup the proper way AND which type of grounds to use. (Not the instant Nescafe grounds that we were left with, which we quickly discovered....)

Once I got over some of the quirks of "living" in Italy, I was able to relax, read a book, let my laundry dry outside in the fresh Italian air, use binoculars to look for George and Amal, and prepare a charcuterie plate for lunch around 4 in the afternoon. We're getting into our groove here and figuring out how to slow the pace down and enjoy the ride.

What is it that they say... La Dolce Vita? La Vita Bella? Either way.. sweet or beautiful... the Italians know how to live the good life. We're just living vicariously through them.

The most expensive haircut of Timothy's life... in Switzerland, of course.

Views from inside our villa. REAL stone walls from the hillside!

I just adore the architecture in here

The dining balcony

The master bedroom balcony

The BBQ balcony

Views from the Master Bedroom

The bathroom & laundry balcony

Our villa sits right at the top of that hillside!

Windy narrow streets... who gets to pass first?

Just a motorcyclist and his dog...

More views of the villa

The front side of the villa

Just enjoying a good book and a view in Italy!
A view of our hill and villa from downtown Cernobbio
Just trying to cook dinner in an unfamiliar (Italian) kitchen!

Just can't help myself with these views!

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