I’m back from a dreamy week and a half in Italy with my best friend, Kristina. Truly, I wish you could have been there. The good news is that both my dairy-induced breakouts and tendency to say “grazie mille” at the end of every conversation have now faded. The bad news is that the only whirlwind Italian romance I experienced was with Olio e Osso No. 5, and I was the clingy partner.
We started our trip in Bellagio (probably named after the hotel in Vegas), and stayed in an Airbnb that fulfilled our only requirement (having a terrace). I lost track of the days because each one went exactly like this: morning gelato, beautiful villa tour, pasta for lunch, terrace reading, dinner pasta, evening gelato. And repeat. It was a lifestyle fully worth the lactose pills I had to carry in my bag. If you’re only here for a day, take the ferry to Lenno and visit Villa del Balbianello—it’s so intricate, full of history, and will make you feel like you’re in a Taylor Swift music video.
After Bellagio we re-packed our “Caution: Heavy”-tagged bags and drove an hour to our next stop, Villa d’Este. I could (and often do) spend hours on thesaurus.com, but I still would not be able to find the words to describe this place. It’s ethereal and alluring and, had there not been other people there, I would have spent my days running around the grounds in a massive ball gown. Because there were other people there, I sprawled out on a lounge chair by the lake, reading The Cost of Living and developing a dependency on lemon soda, instead. Not a bad plan B. What I loved most about our time at Villa d’Este was that we spent our days in just Supergoop sunscreen, some Boy Brow, and tinted lip balm… But once 7 PM hit, we became our own glam team to get ready for a 9 o’clock dinner. Finding the perfect playlist (must include “Perfect Day” by Hoku), trying a new makeup look on a whim, reaching for micellar water to wipe it off minutes after, asking your friend if they happened to bring the eyelash curler you managed to forget... It made me feel sixteen again. I really missed the performance of Getting Ready™.
After a quick argument over whether we should quit our jobs and stay at Villa d’Este forever, we reluctantly re-re-packed and headed to the final leg of our trip. Here’s what they tell you about staying in a 14th century castle-turned-bed-and-breakfast: it’s magical and beautiful and feels straight out of a dream. True! Here’s what they don’t tell you: it gets very hot in the summertime, there are a few too many creepy paintings, and there is no filtration system in the pool so swim caps are mandatory. I did not include a photo of me wearing my swim cap here, for everyone’s benefit. Nevertheless, we had a great time. There was more balcony reading (Thanks for Waiting by Doree Shafrir this time) and frolicking in dresses—perfect activities in my book.
With a big hug (I’m a Cancer!) and a last minute offer to revisit the quit-our-jobs-and-stay-here-forever plan, Kristina and I said our goodbyes at Milan Linate Airport. She went off to Croatia and I returned to Paris to finish off my European summer and spend one more paycheck at Citypharma. Any suggestions on what I should buy?
Photos via the author