Emily Jablon: Daraius and I went to Europe in September to celebrate our 2nd anniversary for ~2 weeks. It was my first time in Italy so I was very excited! In Italy, we visited Varenna on Lake Como, Milan, Venice, and Rome.
Since we were in Europe, we visited a friend in Strasbourg, France and also spent a night in Zurich. We started our trip with a one day layover in Chicago to see friends!
Our Anniversary To Italy – Trip Report Index:
- Part 1 – Planning & Introduction
- Part 2 – Park Hyatt, Chicago
- Part 3 – One Day in Chicago
- Part 4 – Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
- Part 5 – Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge, London
- Part 6 – Under the Channel to Strasbourg
- Part 7 – Hotel Cathedrale, Strasbourg
- Part 8 – What did we do in Strasbourg
- Part 9 – Eating in Strasbourg
- Part 10 – Park Hyatt, Zurich
- Part 11 – 10 Hours in Zurich
- Part 12 – Hotel Eremo Gaudio in Varenna, Italy
- Part 13 – What to do in Varenna, Italy
- Part 14 – Eating in Varenna, Italy
- Part 15 – Park Hyatt, Milan
- Part 16 – What Did We Do in Milan
- Part 17 – Eating in Milan
- Part 18 – Hilton Molino Stucky, Venice
- Part 19 – Around the Hilton Molino Stucky & Free Shuttle Boat Details
- Part 20 – What we did in Venice
- Part 21 – Eating in Venice
- Part 22 – Waldorf-Astoria, Rome Cavalieri
- Part 23 – Eating in Rome, Part 1
- Part 24 – Emily’s Best Meal Was in Italy!
- Part 25 – Rome Cavalieri Imperial Floor
- Part 26 – Activities in Rome
- Part 27 – Activities in Rome – Where to Go, What to See, How to Save Time
- Part 28 – Virgin Atlantic Flight from Europe to US
- Part 29 – Conclusion & Blog Giveaway
Getting From Milan to Varenna
Varenna is only ~1 hour from Milan and is a delightful old town filled with pretty postcard views and a slower pace of life. Daraius can’t wait to go back!
When we arrived at the train station, we waited for the display board to tell us which platform to go to.
The train ride was ~4 hours from Zurich to Milan. I wrote some postcards and got some work done. I slept a little while and soon we were in Milan.
We bought tickets to Varenna from the kiosks at the Milan train station since we couldnt buy them in Zurich. The tickets (from Milan to Varenna) were ~$14 and, in all, we paid ~$110 for the train rides from Zurich to Varenna.
We went into the Bistrot Milano Centrale, which was a food court in the train station.
We had some delicious pizza, soda, and a strawberry tart. You select what you want and then pay at the check-out counter.
The next train ride, from Milan to Varenna, was only 50 minutes and went by very fast.
It was only 3 euro (~$4) more for 1st class seats, so we splurged!
The doors don’t open automatically when the train stops. So be sure to open the train door otherwise you won’t get out and the train will go to the next station! The station’s full name is “Varenna – Esino-Perledo”
At Varenna, there were 2 taxis waiting outside the station. It is about a 15 minute walk to the main square and about 25 minutes uphill walk to our hotel. If you’re not staying up the hill, you can walk to your hotel.
The cab ride was 12 euro (~$15) to our hotel, which was on the opposite side of town. We would have walked, if not for our luggage. We immediately got the small-town Italy feel as the the taxi driver stopped a couple of times to have a short (but loud) chat with her friends along the way!
The town is small and it seems like everyone knows each other. People were very friendly and helpful!
Hotel Eremo Gaudio
Our hotel, Hotel Eremo Gaudio, was uphill, ~10 to 15 minute walk from the main square.
If we had chosen to walk, it would have been easy to find since there was a big sign pointing the way.
We learned about this hotel from the Rick Steves’ Italy book. Rick describes this hotel as “for monks with champagne tastes.” Varenna was a last minute addition to our schedule, so most hotels had sold out of regular rooms and had only suites available.
So we splurged 230 euro or ~$300 for the “Teodolinda” suite. The view was well worth it!
The hotel is a former monastery.
There are 2 sets of rooms – lower and upper level rooms.
These are the lower level rooms, which don’t have great views. But you can always go up to the reception area where the views are better.
Our room was on the upper level, so we had to take the hotel’s funicular to the top.
There were 2 sets of funiculars. One to the mid-level.
And another to the upper rooms.
It was a long way up to our rooms. Good thing I’m not scared of heights!
The highlight of our room was the outdoor patio that overlooks the lake and mountains.
It was one of the best views which we’ve seen from a hotel. Here’s a video of our room and the view!
From our patio we had a great view of Lake Como and the mountains. It was so beautiful, picturesque and peaceful!
The outdoor terrace had lots of seating…
and gorgeous views.
The arched stone windows really made the views even more dramatic.
Lake Como is so gorgeous. And our view was so perfect, it could have been photoshopped!
I could have stayed on the patio for hours, just admiring the view.
We stayed and watched as a ferry boat crossed the lake. It’s views like this that make splurging (every once in a while) worth it!
We could even see the mountains and Lake Como from the front door of our room.
Here’s the simple entrance to our room.
There was a small entry way when you walked in.
On the left side was a dresser and mirror.
On the other side was a sofa.
The bedroom was to the right, under the arched stone doorway.
The bed was two twin beds pushed together.
Across from the bed was a chair, luggage stand, a small desk, and TV.
There was a mini fridge under the desk.
The rest of the room was fairly basic, but large and clean. The internet wasn’t very fast and Daraius couldn’t connect to the blog easily.
But you’re really paying for the views!
Another set of arched doors led outside to the patio.
This was my favorite part of the hotel!
We could sit out there for hours.
I couldn’t get enough of the views and stone archways.
There was an extra bed for families.
and a closet.
The bathroom was a bit small, but functional.
There was a walk-in shower…
and sink and mirror.
The rest of the hotel had common areas which also had great views.
There was a terrace to enjoy the views even more.
Since this was a former monastery, there was an old chapel.
We walked up a floor, from the chapel, to the roof terrace.
There were more gorgeous views of Varenna from the top.
The hotel also had a restaurant on the terrace (Terrace Cafe), where we had free breakfast. There were tables and chairs with a nice view.
There was a small selection of food, both packaged and fresh.
There were eggs, bread, and butter…
and yogurt and pastries. It wasn’t extraordinary, but it filled our tummies.
One evening, we went to the hotel for dinner. The prices were reasonable, at about 10 euro or ~$14. But the menu stated that some meals were frozen!
We ordered lasagna…
and gnocci with gorgonzola sauce.
Both meals were pretty good, and they did taste like they may have been a frozen meal. However, it saved us the 30 minutes from walking back and forth to town, and the views were hard to beat!
That said, the food is much tastier at the restaurants in town.
Daraius loved the Varenna and would go back in a heart-beat. It was small, friendly, and beautiful! It was a great place for us to recharge before heading to the big city of Milan.