With flowers and palm trees everywhere and island gardens on the lake, Lago Maggiore comes in as one of the most paradisiacal places I've ever visited. My first visit to the lake was three summers ago when my mother, grandmother, and I decided to take a holiday in June. We stayed at an old hotel on the outskirts of Baveno, a small town visited by Shelley, Wordsworth, and Queen Victoria, and spent two weeks relaxing and taking in the Italian sun and scenery (which in my case, meant hiding beneath a giant hat with my books). We've been back twice since and returned last month when my grandma insisted on a change of space.
The last two weeks since my last update post have been rather quiet on my end. I spent another week in Maggiore, visited two more of the Borromean Islands, ate a lot of pasta, tried quite a few cocktails, and then drove back through the Simplon Pass into Switzerland with my mom, grandma, and Dodo. It was a very pleasant, restful trip overall, and I'm so glad we were able to go at the last minute.
Since then, I've been spending a lot of time hiding from the heat. Summers in Geneva used to be so nice and cool during my childhood, and they've changed so much over the past few years. The heat at least means I've been able to spend days reading. I finished my Anne of Green Gables reread, started Anne's House of Dreams (such fluffffff), dabbled in a few novels, and am now reading Alain de Botton's Essays in Love. I haven't been wildly productive, but reading what I want when I want without feeling obligated to constantly come up with "intelligent" commentary has been extremely freeing. I feel infinitely calmer, enjoy reading again, and am beginning to remember why I love engaging with literature so very much. I even found myself coming up with PhD ideas when chatting with my best friend the other day. So all hope is not lost, and the last few weeks of "relaxing" are certainly paying off.
I meant to post this on Sunday, but time goes by a little differently when you're on holiday. I'm back on Lago Maggiore with my family for the better part of two weeks. I said goodbye to A last Monday morning, headed back to Geneva, and then drove to Italy a couple of hours later. We went through the Simplon pass as it was pouring rain. It was quite an experience, and I'll post about it later on. I love going through Simplon because it's always an experience of the sublime, no matter the weather.
Being in Maggiore again has been wonderful. We came here for the first time three summers ago, and it's our third time back since. It's a gorgeous little corner of the earth and one of my favorite places to be. The landscapes are domestically sublime, with the rolling mountains in the background and the peaceful lake before us. We're staying in Stresa this time around, and we can see the Borromean islands from wherever we are. We've gone back to Isola Bella and Madre so far, and though it wasn't my first time on either, it was still exquisite to visit the houses and gardens again. Situated in the middle of the lake, they're like little pieces of floating heaven. It's easy to forget that the world is a dark, dark place from here, and such aesthetic fluff has certainly been necessary given the heartbreaking events in our country over the past few days.
The summer I was eight, my mom, her best friend, and my grandmother went on an extended tour of Italy. I was supposed to travel with them, but going through a new wave of seeing evil in my traveling to Europe, my father intervened against my going abroad, and I spent part of the summer staying with him in rural Illinois. I’ve been enchanted with the idea of Italy ever since, and as many times as I’ve been to Como, Lago Maggiore, and Amalfi in the past few years, I’ve had few chances to see the cities. Being far more interested in architecture and museums than in cocktails and lounging, I was unhappy with the extent of my travels and decided that it was time I began to actually see the rest of Italy.
I consequently traveled to Venice two Septembers ago and then, last July, did what I vowed to do when I was eight: prove that I was an adult by going to Rome with my best friend.
I started writing this post a few days after getting back from our trip, but last summer proved to be a transitional time in my life. I met my now-boyfriend in June, spent much of July – and indeed a big part of the trip – hoping that I would get to see him again, and the days after I got back from Rome were dedicated to building up the courage to ask him out for coffee. I did. We connected in a way I didn't believe was actually possible, and I barely managed to think of anything but him for weeks (months?) afterwards. Written blog posts were quickly forgotten, and here I am a year later.
Thanks to this, I now connect Rome with the excitement of that time. It was a wonderful time. It was my first trip to the Italian capital but it was also my first time away with a friend and my first independently financed holiday.
Rory and I took advantage of being able to do whatever we wanted, blissfully away from all of our academic obligations and our families for a few days. We spent our mornings listening to a curious mix of Taylor Swift and Hozier as we breakfasted and did our makeup and then making our way to the center.
We visited museums and villas every day and spent hours getting lost amongst gorgeous sculptures and murals and taking countless aesthetic photos. We shopped and we spent a ridiculous amount of time and money at Babington's Tea Room. We were there in the middle of a heat wave and so the tea room and villas were our saviors in the middle of the 40° days.
We took so many photos on the trip that I have over a thousand pictures on my laptop and have more favorites than I can possibly share. I've included a few here, but you can see more in my trip tag on tumblr, here.
All in all, our time in Rome was perfect. Traveling with my best friend is one of my favorite things, and I can't wait to explore the rest of Italy with her in the coming years.
Hello & Welcome!
I'm Olivia, a twenty-six year old grad student studying in Switzerland. This is where I share my thoughts on the academic journey, culture, travels, baking, and my daily life abroad. Read More.