A First Taste of Italy

Join Kaitlyn on her first taste of Italy as she tours her way from pizza shop to pizza shop, and of course, she’d be remiss if she didn’t stop for gelato along the way. Read all about her journey around the pants shaped Lake Como in her latest blog!

Thursday, March 25, 2021 | Written by Kaitlyn

Italy: the home of pizza, the perfecter of pasta, and the gelato capital of the world. It’s easy to say that it’s the perfect weekend getaway for any food fanatic — ideal for my group and me!

It was apparent we were in Italy from the moment we stepped out into the lakeside town of Como, Italy. Blooming cherry blossom trees dotted the sides of roads filled with drivers zipping around on their Vespas. Every block we walked by was home to one gelato shop at a minimum.

an image of an adorable small puppy
The happiest dogs live in Italy!

While the name of the movie may be All Dogs go to Heaven, based on my observation heaven for dogs must be Como. There were so many dogs, and every single one of them looked like the happiest pup in the world — one friendly puppy was practically jumping all over us to receive pets.

Lake Como is situated on the border of Switzerland and Italy. My friends and I likened the shape of the lake to a pair of pants; while traveling along the lake we would use this analogy. It was silly, but extremely helpful! For example, the city of Como was on the “left foot” of the lake.  After a couple hours sightseeing, we boarded a ferry (the lake is so large that the main way of transportation between the towns is by boat!) to travel up the pants leg to Varenna, our home base for the weekend.

We disembarked the ferry right at sunset, and what a sunset it was! It was a real treat for us, as our ability to view sunsets in Metz have been restricted by a curfew. We quickly learned that the town of Varenna was tiny; it is home to a grand total of 800 residents! But what it lacked in population made up for in charm. We ordered some takeaway pizza from a restaurant in the main square and while we waited, considered our options for how to get to our Airbnb. 

The amazing view from the balcony of our Airbnb.

The house we picked was actually in an even smaller town, Perledo, which sits prettily on top of a hill. It’s only accessible through hiking up a steep trail of staircases, or through a road that has a hairpin turn every few meters. Our exhausted bodies gave a resounding “no” to the first option, so we hitched a ride in a taxi. It’s difficult to tell if that was the right decision in the end, because the taxi ride was simply chaotic. Trying to communicate to the driver that only knew Italian where to drop us off as she whipped around the hairpin turns at lightning speed was **shivers** quite the harrowing experience. We made it to our destination in one piece, though, and our home for the weekend was incredible. The villa we stayed in was complete with private gardens and balconies that highlighted a completely unparalleled lake view.

The traumatizing taxi ride was worth it for this.


Authentic Italian pizza deserves all the hype it gets.

Exhausted from our eventful day, we tucked into our authentic Italian (!!) pizza and called it a night.


The next day we caught another ferry to the town of Bellagio. Of course, we couldn’t visit another Italian town without trying their gelato. Trust me when I say, Italian pistachio gelato just hits differently.  We continued to roam the small streets and talk to locals. 

We returned to Varenna a few hours later with a fun idea in our heads. One of my group’s absolute necessities is watching the Rick Steves video about our destination, so we thought it would be fitting to try our best to recreate certain scenes from the Varenna video. I’ve gotta say, I think we did a pretty decent job. I think Rick Steves would be proud of our attempt. 

You really have to look hard to find the difference between these two photos!

We wrapped up our last night in Varenna simply relaxing and enjoying our surroundings. It was a wonderfully peaceful evening on the lake, and the perfect ending to my first taste of Italy.