We spent the last few days of 2015 in Varenna, a small town perched on the edge of Lake Como in Northern Italy. We had dreams of pizza, pasta, Italian sweets and running into George Clooney (who has a house slash epic mansion on the lake) and being invited over for New Year’s drinks. I am pleased to report we had an 80% success rate which was just as well, given it was likely I wouldn’t have made it to midnight and would have embarrassed myself by falling asleep on Mr Clooney’s couch (which I assume is plush and luxurious).
Varenna was originally a small fishing village founded in the seven hundreds, but its current architecture dates back to the 1100s due to off-and-on burning and pillaging that occurred over the years. It is primarily made of stone – coloured for the buildings and cobbled for the streets – and consists of a series of twisting alleys tiered up from the banks of the lake.
Our New Year’s preparations included stocking up on all the delicious eats and drinks we could find. We wandered around the village admiring the lights and managing the (fairly grumpy) little ones (the snap below is deceptively cheerful) before heading home to see in 2016.
We wound up 2015 in the manner in which we spent a large part of it: platter style. The grapes pictured on said platter were given to us by the crazy Nonna who lived in the apartment below. I tasted one and can confirm they are ornamental only. (The Violimoncello – boom ching – was swigged from the bottle by the lads as they braved the night air to check out the fireworks on the lake. Classy.)
I’m a big one for New Year’s resolutions. Always have been (we have even, nerdily, made Financial New Year’s resolutions in our time). Last year I don’t think I even made it to the 9pm Sydney fireworks due to a less-than-two-week-old bambino and my only resolution was to survive the year. Given that 2015 was our most epic year to date, maybe ‘less is more’ in the resolution department should be the way to go for me. This year, we hope to continue getting away to see The Europes once a month, and I am going to start those bloody German classes for reals. Other than that, do as you will 2016.
On the first day of the new year, we donned our gear (sans Nonna headwear) and took to the trails, hiking to a castle that sits atop the hill.
It was closed for the off season, but we caught sneaky views of the ruined turrets and bridges popping up amidst olive groves. We spent time catching our breath in the wee village nearby (the gents cursing the violimoncello from the evening before).
The descent was at times hairy, down slippery rock steps and narrow paths. I was the only one not carrying a child so spent my time nagging everyone else to be careful. We paused regularly, glimpsing shimmering silvery olive groves and glittering water. It was easy to mistake the lake for ocean due to the misty haze in the sky.
Once back in Varenna we made our way to the lake edge to let the kids – both small and large – play.
The day ended, as all days do, with the sun arcing across the sky, over the horizon and out of sight (and also with wines). On the first day of the new year, though, it did so spectacularly.
We’re home again now, back in Lucerne, and my sister and her family are packing their bags for the long haul flight to Australia. The little cousins have had a month together during which she’s become his shadow. He’s taught her to cuddle (adorably and awkwardly shoving toys under her chin while grinning proudly), to gain confidence in walking (she now totters far more than she crawls), and how to steal (a toy Zorro accidentally came home with us from Varenna and surely it has to be due to her older cousin’s bad influence). It’s been a gift of a month.