Autumn escape to Lake Como

Boutique hotel Villa Vittoria Lake Como, Italy

It may not have been the most obvious time of the year to travel to Lake Como in late October, but it was a good choice. No crowds anywhere, just some locals walking around, it was so quiet and beautiful. Many of the restaurants were already closed after the busy summer season, but some of them still remained opened over the weekends offering delicious Italian food and wines.

Lake Como in autumn colours in October

Hotel Relais Villa Vittoria lake como, ItalyAll the little villages around the lake were shining in autumn colours under the autumn sun. The temperature was a bit above +20C degrees, so rather ok compared to many other European destinations at this time of the year.

We stayed in a lovely boutique Hotel Relais Villa Vittoria, which looks over the Lake Como. We managed to book our room just a night before our arrival, and we really enjoyed our stay in this charming place. The service is friendly, a bit like staying someone’s gorgeous holiday home. I hope we can return here next year again…

Villa Vittoria, your living room at Lake Como

Relais Villa Vittoria, Lake Como - living room

Reception Villa Vittoria Lake Como

Pool at Villa Vittoria Lake Como

Lake Como in autumn colours

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Mysterious Grand Hotel Orologio: why it was closed?

 

Grand hotel Orologio, Abano Terme, Italy

Abano Terme, Italy: In Easter we visited Abano Terme for a long spa weekend. In the centre of Abano Terme there is a fascinating old hotel called Grand Hotel Orologio. It is the most beautiful building in this little town, far fancier than any other building. I am sure it had a glorious past, but why it was abandoned?

This beautiful neoclassical building served once as a famous casino. You can still admire its architectural magnificence, though the facade is getting rusty and losing its paint. I found this hotel, and its garden so fascinating and interesting. I probably looked like Nancy Drew while sneaking around and trying to see closer. I would have loved to look inside, but of course there was no-one around to let me in. It is still unclear to me, why and when the hotel was closed. But it is obvious, the place has been closed for some time now.

All the information I have been able to find is a texts praising the buildings’ glory and mourning the fact that it was abandoned. I can’t find much about the hotel’s history or any pictures of the time that it was still in use, but I will continue searching…

I hope this hotel will open one day again, and I will then definitively come back!

Grand hotel Orologio, Abano Terme, Italy

Grand hotel Orologio, Abano Terme, Italy

Grand hotel Orologio, Abano Terme, Italy

Grand hotel Orologio, Abano Terme, Italy

Grand Hotel Orologio, Abano Terme, Italy

Where to go in April?

Spring is the time to explore the European cities and spend some weekends combining culture, shopping and good food. I have collected here two of my favourite city break destinations to visit in April.

Vienna, Austria

Spring colours in Vienna
The Austrian capital Vienna is an exciting choice for a weekend destination for those, who love culture and history. With its numerous museums and palaces you can always find something interesting to see.

Flowers in Vienna, Austria

Schoenbrunn palace, Vienna AustriaMy favourite tourist attraction is the Imperial Palace, and especially its royal apartments, a museum dedicated to Empress Elisabeth. The other beautiful castles to visit are Schoenbrunn, the former summer residence of the imperial family and Belvedere, the summer residence of Prince Eugene. In both palaces you can easily spend a good half day.

Vienna culture attractions

Hundertwasser, Vienna AustriaFor those who love architecture, the Hundertwasser is the area to experience eclectic style buildings combining the elements of mosques, Spanish villages and Venetian style palaces designed by the artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser.

Vienna is also famous for its street cafes providing delicate breaks for city explorers. The most famous cake is definitively the original Sachertorte from Hotel Sacher, which is a traditional place for a Sunday afternoon tea. For evenings, Vienna offers a wide range of entertainment of every kind from opera to concerts and theatre to cinemas – tickets are recommended to book well in advance.

Cakes in Vienna

Market colours in Vienna, Austria

Flowers in market in Vienna, Austria

Romantic weekend in Venice
Venice is so different from any other European cities that you can call it unique. I find it fascinating walking around its narrow streets, exploring the labyrinth structure of the city and the graceful facades of the historic buildings.

Venice, Italy

The best way to get most out of the city is to organise a private tour with a local guide, who knows the history of the city and takes you to the areas where you wouldn’t necessarily find on your own. The The Canal Grance, Venice, ItalyGrand Canal, Piazza San Marco, The Bridge of Sighs, Rialto and much more… there are plenty of famous places in Venice that you must see while you are there. I would also recommend a day trip to the famous Murano island, the centre of glassmaking since 1291.

There are also some charming shops in Venice to buy some souvenirs. I love the small stores selling all kind of leather bags with fancy colours and fashionable designs. I also like the tiny shops with all kind of gloves in every colour you can imagine with affordable prices. Whatever is the season, you will always find a reason to buy one more pair or two. And if you would like to send some post cards from your journey, I would recommend visiting some local paperteries where you can find the most beautiful handmade cards – my favourite one is Il Papiro (www.ilpapirofirenze.it), Florentine paperterie which has few stores in Venice.Harry's bar Venice

And before you go home, stop in Harry’s bar for an original Venetian Bellini – this is the place where the drink was discovered.

Click here to read more about Venice.

Other destinations…
And where am I going in April this year? I will be in Thailand, visiting Helsinki and hopefully Damascus…

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Where to go in February 
Where to go in March

Where to go in February?

Matterhorn, Zermatt

Where to travel in February: Exploring holidays in a last minute is actually great fun. I like listing destinations for different seasons and planning last minute holidays. I recently wrote my first guest blog about last minute destinations for February. Click here to read my guest blog post: Last minute break – Where to go in February?

So where I would go in February: Skiing in the Alps -definitively!! Sun I would seek in Dubai and for shopping I would go to Milan!

Davos-KlostersSkiing in the Alps
Skiing in the Swiss Alps is absolutely a fantastic experience. Imagine the blue sky, dazzling white snow, winter sun and all day outside in the alpine air. What could be more refreshing? There are plenty of ski resorts offering a great variety of slopes from beginners to more advanced skiers. Please see my recent blog posts of Lech in Austria and skiing in Switzerland for some great tips for Alpine holidays.

Burj Al Arab, DubaiSun, sun and sun in Dubai
Dubai is a perfect destination in February. The weather is pleasurably warm and the sun is almost guaranteed. Dubai is full of fabulous hotels, great restaurants, fantastic shopping malls, mystic souks, beautiful golf courses and much more. Two of my favourite hotels in Dubai are Al Maha desert resort and One and Only Royal Mirage –to combine them will make a perfect stay.

Penny Black in MilanShopping in Milan
Milan is my favourite city for shopping in Italy. You can find there about everything you need: stylish clothes, beautiful shoes and absolutely gorgeous leather bags. Milan has also great hotels, like Four Seasons and Bulgari, and so many great restaurants. Click here to read my latest post about shopping in Milan.

Lake Como – a great weekend destination

Lake Como, Italy

Lake Como, Italy: Lake Como is the third largest lake in Italy and offers great destinations for weekend escapes. Just as little as two nights will make you feel like being on holidays. I stayed a weekend at the brand new Castadiva hotel resort by the Lake Come enjoying the sun, spa treatments and delicious Italian food. Click here to read more…

City break in Venice

Venice, Italy

Venice is one of my favourite city break destinations in Europe. I have been there several times, whether it is spring or autumn it is always charming. Here are my recommendations for a perfect weekend escape. Click here to read more…