I had been looking forward to my Summer Family Vacation for months. We planned to do Italy (Milan as our base) and travel around for a few days and then move to the South of France where Nice would be our base. My family left earlier than me and spent a few days in Portugal. The kids were able to get adjusted to the time difference and I had Wells Street Art Fair. I was really sad to miss Portugal but I already had a commitment.
I was still fighting a cough/cold on the way over to Milan so it wasn’t the easiest flight. I caught the train from the airport to arrive at the Central Station in Milan. My family booked an Airbnb not too far from the station but I still look a taxi instead of walking. Jet lag had taken over.
The cost of the train was 13 euros. The Uber was around 10 euros due to surge pricing. I didn’t complain. I really wanted a shower and change of clothes more than anything at that point.
We took the train to Como the first day which I was able to power through pretty well. Our second day we planned to go to Verona. This is one of the few day trip spots I had not been too yet. I studied abroad in Florence in college and have been back to Italy a few times since.
My family was a total of 7 people (5 adults and two kids). Making our way to the train station was always an adventure. The strategy was to keep a few in line at the ticket kiosk, entertain the kids, and one or two of us would stand in line for coffees. We were all set for Verona until we saw the price. It was a few hundred dollars for the day trip. Train travel is typically inexpensive between cities but this was high. We made a quick decision to change destinations and purchased tickets to Stresa which was about 1/4 of the price.
The lake was lined with pink flowers and it was the perfect day. We walked along the water for a while before jumping a boat to one of the islands. We really thought there was going to be lunch on the island as we were all hungry but we were disappointed with the options. We had to wait over an hour to get another boat back just across the way (maybe a 10 minute boat ride) entertaining hungry kids was a challenge.
We did a quick search and found Taverna Pappagallo. We sat outside on the terrace with a few other people and my family said it was one of their favorite meals of the trip.
After lunch, we took a walk around the town square and we found the best gelato. Bobby and I both got chocolate at L’Angolo del Gelato and it was out of this world good. You could tell by Bobby’s messy chocolate face, he was a huge fan. We almost had to throw him in the water just to get him clean.
A tip for traveling with kids in Italy and France, find all the playgrounds and map them out ahead of your daily schedule on where you plan to go. We found it very helpful to burn a little energy with a quick playground stop. You will be surprised at how many playgrounds there are once you keep your eye out for them.
On our walk we passed by the beautiful Grand Hotel Des Its Borromees. The courtyard was filled with the smell of jasmine and the inside was just as lovely with a Hemingway Bar. You can read more about Hemingway and Stresa in this article.
My family loved Stresa and would consider spending more time here for a week in the future. If you have the chance, we recommend Stresa for a day trip from Milan.