Where to Stay on Lake d’Iseo

Over the past four years of living in Italy I have been making my way through the Lakes located around Northern Italy.  Lake Como, Lake Maggiore, Lake Garda & Lake Lugano are all beautiful destinations and interesting places to explore.  I have loved each Lake in its own way – Como for its cobbled, lakeside towns, Maggiore for it’s islands and Garda for its beachy vibe.  So when a friend recently told me Lake d’Iseo was her favourite lake I had to check it out.

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(our view of the lake town from the boat)

How to Get There.

Lake d’Iseo is located in Brescia in the Franciacorte Wine Region.  The easiest way to arrive would be by car.  By train however is a little longer, you need to travel to Bergamo or Brescia by train and then connect to a local bus or regional train to take you to the lake.  We took the train from Brescia and we really loved this option because the scenery leading up to the lake is beautiful and passes through many beautiful vineyards.

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(the view from the train over the Franciacorte Vineyards)

Where to Stay.

There are many pretty villages perched along the lake shore and I think you could visit any without going wrong.  We chose to visit the town Iseo which is famed for its cobbled streets and old medieval architecture.  We loved strolling around the old town center, shopping in local boutiques and drinking Franciacorte Prosecco in the main piazza.  As apposed to the other lakes I have visited which feel more like an Italian tourist spot, Iseo felt very authentic and local and it was easy to see the real way of life here.

Other towns on the Lake that are good to visit include Lovere, Portirone, Sulzano, Sale Marasino & Marone.

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(lake side houses in Iseo)

What to Do.

A stroll along the lake front is a relaxing way to pass the morning whichever lake town you choose to visit.  As is having coffee or prosecco to drink in cafes or bars in the main piazzas to see the local way of life.

Another fun idea is to take a public ferry boat or hire your own boat and head over to the island in the middle of the lake ‘Monte Isola.  It is the biggest island lake in Europe and boasts a tall green mountain in the middle, giving the island it’s name.  The ferry first stops in Perchiera Maraglio, an old fishing village where you can stroll along the promenades and see locals hand knitting fishing nets.  From here it’s also possible to hike all the way around the island by following the ‘Olive Trail’ passing through the islands other rural villages along the way.  Or hike or cycle up to the top of the mountain for panoramic views of the lake.  We didn’t do this as we had limited time but I would love to come back and try this hike out next time!

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(the view of Isola Monte & Perchiera Maraglio)

What to Eat.

The speciality of the lake is Sardines & Polenta and you can find this at countless local bars and traditional style restaurants.  Otherwise any fresh pasta or risotto dish served with lake fish are delicious.  Make sure to wash it down with a glass of wine from the region too!

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Have you visited Lake d’Iseo? Let us know what you thought in the comments below…

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6 Unique Places to Visit in Northern Italy

I have been living in Italy for five years now and in that time I have managed to fit in my fair share of traveling and experiences.  My travel list started off much like everyone else’s Italy bucket list – I wanted to see Milan, Rome, Venice, Florence & Pisa.

Those places were undeniably amazing but the longer I have lived in Italy the more I have discovered the real gems of this country are the places less known of, the places you have to search for, or that involve a degree of adventure.  It’s in these moments that you see the real Italy.  The Italy with a big heart and amazing food that welcomes you in like a long-lost family member.  It’s here that you discover the true magic of Italy.

If you want to experience a little of that (and why wouldn’t you?!) then here are my top 6 unique places to travel in Northern Italy.  Maybe you can try and squeeze some in on your next visit to Milan, Venice or Florence…

Italy Travel Guide

Parma.

The region of Parma is known for its incredible food – specifically, it’s hams, cheeses and olive oil.  The best time to visit is in November when the Fall food festivals are in full swing and you can combine a morning of city sightseeing with a local foodie festival.  We combined our visit with ‘November Pork’ a festival which celebrates food from local farms including cheeses, home-made pasta, wine and of course ham, salami, and pork.

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November Pork Food Festival

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Parma Cathedral

Lake Como.

Located only an hour from Milan on the train, Lake Como is a perfect place to escape from the city and pass a day relaxing by the water.  Take a boat ride across the lake to visit the beautiful villa’s of old Italian aristocracy (Villa Carlotta & Villa del Balbianello were our favorites) or get lost walking around one of the little villages dotted along the lake’s edge.

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Verona

Arguably one of the more touristy locations, Verona is definitely still worth a visit.  Take a local bike or walking tour around the city and explore the huge selection of ancient Roman architecture and Renaissance art.  Visit the Amphitheater and Juliette’s (of Romeo & Juliette) balcony and then finish your day at an open-air restaurant in one of Verona’s beautiful plazas.

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Verona City Skyline

Lake Garda.

Located between Verona & Venice, Lake Garda is a beautiful, tranquil spot with little villages lining to the shore of the lake.  Two places worth visiting are Peschiera del Garda and Sirmione where you can spend a day walking around cobbled streets, taking boat rides on the lake and eating seafood in sunny plazas.

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Sirmione Ancient City Walls

Alba.

Another place to visit during the Fall, Alba comes alive through the month of November for the International Truffle Festival.  Plan your visit so you can spend a day exploring the exhibition, tasting the truffles and visiting local deli and wine stores.  Then finish up by visiting vineyards and farm-based restaurants in the surrounding countryside to experience truffle eating at its best.

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Alba Truffle Festival

Torino.

Torino is an elegant and characteristic city 120km north of Milan.  The city has a more local feel but still offers lots of museums, churches, restaurants and sunny plazas so you can get your culture fix.  Top spots include the Mole Antonelliana & Film Museum and The Egyptian Museum.

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Torino Skyline

Are you planning a trip to Northern Italy? Let me know where you are thinking about going in the comments below…

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How to Live Like a Milanese…

If Rome is Italy’s city of love, Milan is Italy’s city of fashion.  Its identity is tied up in its glamour, style & sophistication and for this, it’s unlike any other Italian city.    Recently I started to think about all the little personalities traits and Milan-isms which makes this city special for me.  And though I am definitely still 100% English, I have noticed myself picking up on them and how they have become normal for me.  It reminds me how no two countries or even cities are the same which is why traveling is so exciting and eye-opening for me.

Read on if you want to live like a Milanese…

How to Live Like a Milanese - The Stylish Traveler

Saying Ciao A Lot.   Especially when speaking on the telephone, which Italians love to do.  When you want to end the conversation you have to say Ciao Ciao Ciao and then they say Ciao Ciao Ciao and it goes on for a little while.

Taking Regular Espresso Breaks.  Italians go for espresso several times a day and there are so many coffee shops all over Milan.  You order and drink it standing at the bar and are in and out really fast.  It’s a great pick me up when you are on the run.  Normally there are lots of people bustling to get to the front but the coffee people always seem to know who’s drink is who’s!

Becoming a Regular at Your Favorite Cafe or Restaurant.  If you keep going back to the same place and they get to know you they will greet you like family, bring you things to try from the kitchen and make you feel so welcome every time you stop by.

Having Good Shoes and Handbags is Essential.  Milanese girls always have beautiful shoes and handbags made of high-quality leather.  It’s a great way to transform a basic outfit into something elegant and chic.

Skipping Happy Hour For Aperitivo Instead.  Nearly every bar in Milan does Aperitvo in the evenings and it’s so good.  Order a Spritz or Prosecco and get served yummy snacks of olives, cheeses, salads, pasta and savory pastries with your drinks.

The Rules are Made to be Broken.  Italians follow the rules up to a point but they are very comfortable bending them when they need to and are totally fine with you doing the same.  Need to park in the middle of the road while you run into a store to pick something up – no problem.  Don’t have time to buy a ticket before you jump on the train – no problem.  Just flash them a smile and it’s always fine.

Dressing Stylish is a Priority.  In Milan, everyone loves fashion and being stylish and chic is a major priority.  I love it because women of all generations always look beautiful and you can get so much style inspiration from the people you see on the streets.

Taking your Dog Everywhere.  Milanese people love dogs and they bring their little dogs out with them everywhere they go.  In restaurants, cafes, on the trams – once I even saw people bringing their dogs around Ikea!!

Sushi is Everyone’s Favorite International Food.  Italians are really proud of their heritage and their food and don’t often eat the food of other cultures.  However, the exception to this in Milan is Sushi which everyone loves and there are sushi places all over the city.

Picking up on these things makes me feel like I am starting to live a little more like the Milanese and makes me so happy Milan has become my second home.

What are your favorite things about living abroad? Let me know in the comments below…

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How to Dress Like an Italian

I have been living and working in Milan for just under five years now. Before deciding to move here I had done a lot of traveling (mainly around South America and Asia) and these experiences taught me a lot about the world and who I am. But I think by actually living in a country for a long period of time you can learn so much about the culture and way of life.

Being in Italy has taught me about food, Italian language, emotion, creativity and has brought a new perspectives on how to live life.  Living in one of the fashion capitals of the world has also taught me a lot about Style, because Italian’s, no matter their age or background know how to appreciate Style.

Regardless of the occasion they always dress well and manage to pull off a ‘chic yet effortless’ type of vibe.  They appreciate quality over quantity, have an eye for colour and adding the final details and accessories to a look.   Throughout all my travels I have looked to other cultures for inspiration on how to dress and Italy has definitely become one of my top inspiration points and has such a place in my heart.

If you love the Italian Style as much as me here is my quick guide of How to Dress Like an Italian…

How to dress like an Italian

1. ALWAYS wear good shoes.  May it be boots, heels, loafers or sandals – invest in high quality leather shoes.

2. The same applies for Handbags.  Ok they are expensive, but instead of buying 10 high-street handbags at £40 a go, buy one higher quality bag for the year.  Italians always have a beautiful bag and pair of shoes as the base of their outfit which up-levels the look, even if they are just pairing it with jeans and a white t-shirt.

3.  Minimal make-up is more beautiful.

4. But always have painted nails and lipstick to add that flash of colour.

5. Don’t use fake-tan, just spend more time outside in the sun.  Its better for your skin and gives your skin that beautiful olive tone most Italian women have from all the sunshine.

6. Look at quality and craftsmanship when you shop.  It doesn’t matter if the piece costs £10 or £1000 or what brand it is.  What matters is how it is made and the quality of the fabric.  If something is well made from a beautiful material it will look one million dollars even if it really only cost ten. Especially when worn with your beautiful shoes and bag…

7. Start shopping in Independent Shops and add some unique pieces to your wardrobe.  In Italy most businesses are still independently owned which means there are more pretty boutiques and unique fashion brands and when you buy something you know everyone else won’t be wearing the same as you.  Check small boutiques, cool weekend markets and shops in the artsy neighborhoods to discover some special pieces.

8.  Its all about looking elegant but effortless.

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