Overseas Adventure Travel
Northern Italy: The Alps, Dolomites & Lombardy +
The Swiss Alps Pre-Trip Extension
June 12 through July 4, 2023


Click on the above link buttons that will take you directly to a particular page or area of the review; or you can just click through to the next page at the bottom of each page.
Page 1 – Lucerne, Switzerland
Page 2 – Lucern & Bern, Switzerland
Page 3 - Bern & Zermatt, Switzerland

Page 4 – Lecco, Italy (Includes Milan)
Page 5 -
Lecco & Tirano, Italy
Page 6 - Tirano & Sulzano, Italy
Page 7 - Sulzano & Trento, Italy
Page 8 - Trento & Bressanone, Italy
Page 9 -
Bressanone & Mogliano Veneto, Italy


Day 11 –Lecco, Italy (Continued)


Chiara told us about the building and explained many of the reliefs.  There was just so much detail to take in.





The massive doors were amazing.


We walked around to the side to get a different angle of the church and to see more of the decorations and stained-glass windows.




I would have loved to see the stained glass from the inside of the church but wouldn’t be able to.  Amy told us that we could visit the Duomo’s interior on our free time.  She also told us that the main attraction is the exterior.  She has had tourists that were disappointed that the interior didn’t meet their expectations.  Plus, more importantly, we would have had to purchase our tickets in advance online for a specific time.  I was more interested in visiting Chiesa di San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore.  It is referred to as the Sistine Chapel of Milan.  I had seen this during my research and hoped that we would be near it during our free time.  When I asked Amy about how to get there, she said that she would take whoever wanted to go there after the city tour, since it wasn’t that far of a walk.  I was thrilled.  No one else in our group was familiar with the monastery, but most of them decided to go along with my recommendation.  Especially, since the Duomo interior would not be easy to do.

The Duomo plaza is also one of Milan’s top attractions.  We walked under the portico to escape the hot sun.

There were beautiful buildings around the plaza.  There is also an equestrian statue that had been damaged with paint by environmental protesters a few months earlier.  Just a terrible and stupid way to protest.  At least they caught the people responsible for the act.


Amy recommended that we not have a sit-down lunch during our free time, since we would be in Milan for so few hours.  We grabbed a sandwich and met Amy at the appointed time.   When we got to the Chiesa di San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore, the exterior wasn’t much to look at.  The building’s construction started in 1503 and took fifteen years to complete.

Passing through the door, we were blown away.  So much beauty!  There were two main rooms.  We were in the Hall of the Believers.  No words can describe this amazing place, so I will put in way too many photos of it to try to show as much of it as possible.





I next went into Convent Hall, which is separated from the main church by a wall.  It was another mind-blowing room. 





I couldn’t believe how gorgeous this church was.  I understood why it is referred to the Sistine Chapel of Milan.  It is certainly a must see for any visitor to this city.  I see why it is TripAdviser’s number 6 top attraction in Milan.  I’m surprised that no one has ever told me about this amazing place.  Everyone was thanking me for recommending that we come to this church. 
On the way back to where we would meet the bus, Amy took us to see an unusual statue.  It is called the L.O.V.E. Statue and was in front of the stock exchange building. Three of the fingers are cut off.  The L.O.V.E. stands for “Libertà, Odio, Vendetta, Eternità" ("Freedom, Hatred, Revenge, Eternity").  Obviously, the statue has a different meaning for most of us.


We continued our walk and came to a church that Amy said had a nice interior, so we went inside.

It was very pretty, but after the amazing church we had just experienced, it was difficult to get excited about it. 


We came back through the Duomo Plaza and saw the other side of the defaced equestrian statue.  What a shame to destroy such beauty.

After we were on the bus heading back to Lecco, Amy told us to watch for a very unusual pair of buildings.  We only saw one of them, because the other smaller one was behind it.  They are called Bosco Vertical or Vertical Forest.  The architectural biodiversity project was completed in 2014.  The buildings are both residential and offices. 

After we got back to the hotel, it was such a pleasure to be back on peaceful Lake Como than the big city.  But we certainly had an amazing day.



Day 12 – Transfer to Tirano, Italy

It was our last morning in Lecco.  We said goodbye to the gorgeous view from our balcony.

We would be moving to our next hotel located in Tirano, Italy.  We stopped in the town of Varenna, just a half hour away on Lake Como, further up the leg of the running man on the map.  It was up to his waist.  We could see Bellagio where we had spent several days after a cruise in 2012.  It is located right at the crotch of the running man where the lake breaks into two legs.

We left the bus and began our walk into Varenna.  It is a lovely town situated alongside Lake Como.


We began our walk to the main part of the city.  We took a path along the water to get there.  Such beautiful scenery all along the path.



When we arrived at the main town, we saw all the narrow streets heading up the mountain with so many steps.  Previews of coming attractions?



When we came to the square with the stairs that we would take, they looked much easier than the other ones we had seen.  It turned out that there were only about 60 steps, which wasn’t a big deal.

When we reached the top, there were a couple churches to check out, but nothing special to post photos of.



The reason we had walked up the mountain was to visit Villa Monastero.  We weren’t going to visit the villa itself or the museum, just the highlight of the villa, it’s gardens. 

We first strolled through the gardens on the upper path.



We then went to the lower one which had even better views.  This type of scenery is what makes Lake Como such an awesome place to visit.






When we finished our tour of the gardens, we went back into Varenna to look around.  We came to the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie.  It was a nice little church.


Amy told us that the building we were in front of was where the founder of Pirelli Tires was born.  His family were bakers.  The house is still a bakery.

We walked to the Sporting Club Olivedo for our lunch.  The facility had two swimming pools and a soccer field.  The location was just wonderful looking up into the mountains on one side and Lake Como on the other.


Since we didn’t have a paper menu to take a photo of, I don’t know what we ate, but it was all so delicious.  One of the best lunches of the trip.



After lunch, we boarded the bus for the two-hour ride to Tirano.   It was a very pretty ride with so many vineyards on the sides of the mountains with castles on the tops.



We arrived at Hotel Binario Zero at about 3:45 PM.  This was a very new hotel.  It only had ten rooms, so Amy had to stay at the related hotel across the plaza.  We were most fortunate that we were staying there, since it is the only Tirano hotel that OAT uses that has air conditioning.  There are no hotel employees at the hotel.  They all work out of the main hotel, that could be reached on the phone.

We were in the smallest room in the hotel, but there was adequate storage and it was modern and comfortable.


The bathroom had a nice shower.



Because we were at the end of the hotel, the WIFI didn’t work for either of the two end rooms.  Since we use TMobile and have free international data, we were still able to use our phones.  My main problem was that my iPhone photos couldn’t back up to the iCloud.  When we first got to the room, I tried to turn down the temperature and increase the fan speed.  The controls didn’t work.  The fellow that checked us in told us that it couldn’t be controlled.  The whole building was set for the same temperature.  Once we settled down from the ride to the hotel, it felt fine.  Plus, it was perfect for sleeping.

When we looked out our window, there was no more Lake Como, just the train station.  It was convenient to have it there since we would be taking the train in a couple days.  The trains also stopped running at 6:00 PM, so there was never a noise issue.

As usual, when we arrived in a new city, we had our orientation walk.  Since we were on our own for dinner for the next two nights, she would point out possible restaurants for us.  It was an interesting town to walk around with lots to see.




As with most Italian towns, there are plenty of churches to visit.  This one was on my “to see” list, the Church of San Martino.




I also liked the stained glass.


We continued our walk with Amy telling us about restaurants as we passed them.  We found one that looked very appealing.  Several of us made dinner reservations there for the day after tomorrow.


Amy stopped at the Palazzo Salis so that we would know where it was if we wanted to go there during our free time over the next days.

That night, instead of going to a restaurant, Amy had arranged an optional activity for us.  We could go to a cooking class with Chef Elena. 


She does regular classes and is a professional chef.  Almost everyone thought it sounded like a great idea.  She has her classes in her home.  She had a lovely home in a beautiful setting looking up the vineyard covered mountain.

Her living area is set up perfectly for having cooking classes.  The kitchen area is raised above the seating area with lots of room around the cooking area.

She explained what she was going to cook and the ingredients she would use.  She got a bunch of helpers to assist with the cooking, showing them what they needed to do.  They were very busy and did a fine job of managing the team.  A main ingredient was buckwheat dough.  Cathy was going to town rolling it before cutting it up into strips.


When all the cooking was going on, food began appearing on the tables.  Wow, there was so much wonderful cheese and accompaniments. 



Elena showed us the butter she was using, it’s called mountain butter.  The cow on it was a nice addition.

While we were enjoying the appetizers, the main course, Pizzocheri, was still cooking away.

We couldn’t wait to taste it.  When it was brought out, it met all of our expectations.  So delicious!

Elena made a tiramisu for dessert.  Another masterpiece!


After dinner, a selection of way too many liqueurs was brought out.  There were so many.  I still can’t believe that I tried most of them.  Even the grappa started to taste good.

After dinner, we thanked Amy and Elena for providing us with such a wonderful and memorable experience.  An Italy experience!  We staggered back to the hotel, having had an enjoyable and delicious evening.

Day 13 – Tirano, Italy

When I woke up, I looked out the window and saw the Bernina Express train we would be on the next day.  After breakfast I took a photo of it, since I knew I couldn’t the next day because we would be on it.

Even though there were no employees regularly at the hotel, we did have a woman from New Zealand who made our breakfast.  It was much more limited than what we had experienced, but it was very good.


This would be our “Day in the Life” experience in Italy.  We only had to drive about fifteen minutes away, but it could have been a hundred miles, since we were up in the mountains far from the city.  We were going to the village of Borgo Baruffini.  It was a ride up a very curvy road to get up the mountain.  We were happy to stop and see the town. 



The village leader, Claudio, would be showing us around while we were there.  He was quite a character and such a pleasure to be with.

This is a very small village with only about 250 residents.  With Claudio’s leadership and town support, it has been growing.  They have parks for kids, which has helped to bring younger families. 


The town also has a very nice website, https://borgobaruffini.it. I wish they had an English version.  Claudio had told us that they had an active theater group that makes money for the community by touring around Italy.  I took the below photo from the page about the group.  I think they have a good time with it.

They also have areas for social activities.

It is a very small old town, but a very peaceful and beautiful place.  There are 700-year-old buildings still being used. 



The roof on the church was installed in the 1700’s and still holding up.  This is a unique place.


As Claudio was taking us around his town telling us about the history and what they do, we saw his grandmother up on her balcony.  She waved and greeted us.

Claudio had pointed out many handmade wooden objects that were on display around town.  He told us that we would get to meet the craftsman who made them.  When we came to his house, we climbed up the stairs to his second floor and entered his workshop. 


He told us about how he had been working with wood most of his life and showed us the types of items he makes.  He loves working with wood.


A few people wanted to purchase some of the bowls and other things he had for sale.  They were very reasonably priced, especially for the fine craftsmanship.  We continued walking through the pretty town.


When we came to Claudio’s home, he wanted to show us his stone cellar.


We then walked down to the old church.  He wanted us to see the interior.  We were surprised at how beautiful and ornate it was.  It is a shame how few people will ever visit this church and see its beauty.





We next walked down to the comunity center where we would be having our lunch.  We were looking forward to seeing what specialties they would be making for us.  We went into the very nicely equipped kitchen and saw some ingredients, some with signs on them to tell us what we were having.  A nice touch!



Once again, we were having a buckwheat dish, fritula.  After the buckwheat batter had started to cook, the casera cheese was put on top and then pushed down into it. 

It would have to cook for at least an hour.  I walked outside to see their garden.  The view from the garden was amazing.


While the fritula was cooking, Claudio took us down into the wine cellar.  The white-haired woman was the keeper of the keys to the cellar.  She let us in so that Claudio could poor a few bottles of wine for our meal.




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