Italy is such a beautiful country and I’ve never been disappointed after a visit. We travelled to Milan a few weeks ago to start our Italian adventure as a family. We flew with BA and I was really impressed with the Kids Zone in their Heathrow lounge. We didn’t have long until our flight but for an hour Austin was happily entertained. Computers, games, and a big soft play sofa made for an enjoyable start to the holiday for us all!
It’s a really short flight to Milan, just under 1hr 30 so thankfully I didn’t have to spend too much time walking down the aisle of the plane with Austin. Much harder now as he is running around so plenty of snacks helped to keep him seated.
First stop on our trip was a place called Sossano in the Campania region of south-western Italy and about 3 hours drive from Milan (Linate) airport. Verona is much closer to fly into but we wanted to use our BA air miles so wasn’t an option for us. We hired a car from enterprise and actually the Golf we booked was quite small for all our luggage! Austin had to share the back seat with some of the suitcases! We brought our own sat nav which was amazing as it was quite a drive to the villa. The toll roads are great, just make sure you get a ticket when you enter them, an expensive lesson we learnt on out first day! We also booked a car seat and thanks to an early start Austin slept most of the way to the villa.
We arrived at our villa around 8pm after a quick stop at the local supermarket for supplies and some pizzas for dinner. We we thankful to find a shop open as it really is a sleepy town and even the neighbouring villages really don’t offer much. Our friends Tim and Katie and their little girl Lucy who is 2.5 years old were also joining us for our stay in the villa.
The villa was stunning, four bedrooms and 3 bathrooms so plenty of rooms for 2 families. We had a great terrace too, and the outside space complete with pool and hammock set the scene for a great week. We were renting from a contact through Tim although I do believe they are listed through a holiday rental site too.
Most days were spent chilling by the pool and watching the kids run around playfully. The weather was very hot, over 30 degrees most days. There were SO many crickets in the grass outside and the chorus of them all was so loud. Unfortunately mosquitos were also present and we all got our fair share of bites. I didn’t even think to bring repellant as I’ve never really been bitten by them before. One night Austin woke with about 7 bites on his head! Luckily he didn’t seem bothered by them at all. A quick trip to the pharmacy to purchase some repellant for us all!
One of the reasons we picked the location of the villa was so we could enjoy a day visiting Lake Garda and it really didn’t disappoint. Again we drove, it was about an hours drive so not far and plenty of car parks providing a short walk to the Lake.
There is very little shade on the beaches so we couldn’t really stay out for too long as it was around 34 degrees that day! We enjoyed a pizza lunch with some incredible views to keep us in the shade. After our lunch we enjoyed a stroll though the cobbled streets and beautiful picturesque squares.
Austin didn’t sleep well at all for the week in the villa, some nights he wouldn’t go down until 9/10pm and I had to stay in the bedroom with him whilst other nights he went down ok but woke loads in the night. A couple of days after our return Austin came out in chicken pox so were weren’t sure if that was the reason for the fussiness!
It definitely helped being in a villa as we had so much space even when Austin wouldn’t sleep he could stay up with us at dinner and play outside. It was hard though we both felt shattered during the day……thankfully sunbathing was the only thing on the agenda. It was lovely to spend time with our friends and Katie and I enjoyed some girly chat whilst the babies slept or were with daddy day care.
We enjoyed BBQ’s in the villa most nights which was great and lovely to not have to go out especially with both the kids. We did venture out on our last night for some pizza and Italian food which was fab. Lucy and Austin were super cute together and it was lovely to watch them play, the whole week was fascinating for Phil and I to see how Austin interacts with another little one on a daily basis.
Tim and Katie left with Lucy after a week so we checked out of the villa and packed up the car ready for the 1 hour drive to Lake Como. We were very excited to arrive at our hotel which was recommended by a friend who has worked in Como. A new hotel that opened earlier in the year a former shipyard and just a few steps from the lake right in the heart of Laglio. La Locanda del Cantiere is a small hotel with just 6 rooms, we were in the family room with great views of the lake from our Juliet balcony.
We were only staying in Como for 3 nights and I would love to have stayed longer, the Lake is so beautiful and the scenery just doesn’t get boring. There was no pool at the hotel but a really small beach about 200 yards away. The weather was much cooler but still hot and perfect temperature for Austin around 28/29 degrees.
One of the highlights of the trip for us was renting a speedboat from the neighbouring town of Argegno.
We rented a small speedboat from Rent a boat Turati and they could not have been more helpful and welcoming. After a quick lesson on the boat we set off for an hour (€60) out onto the lake and it was such fun. We weren’t sure how Austin was going to be but due to a missed nap he fell asleep within 5 minutes of setting off! First stop on the boat was to George Clooney’s house and it wasn’t far at all! It looked amazing and I was gutted to learn when we got back he was out there with his family the same time as us! Not that we were ever going to see them but it was funny to think about bumping into George Clooney!
Villa Oleandra is beautiful and amazing to see it from the boat.
We ate in the hotel restaurant most nights as not only was the food fabulous but very convenient for us as there wasn’t much choice within walking distance from the hotel. Usually thanks to Austin’s early bedtime we had the restaurant to ourselves and it was such a beautiful building.
Italy certainly didn’t disappoint again, in fact I think Lake Como is my favourite part I’ve visited so far. Not necessarily an obvious place to take a toddler but for us it worked and Austin (despite the lack of sleep) really loved exploring and eating lots of gelato!! The week in the villa with our friends and a few days exploring Como as a family was a perfect mix for the holiday and I really can’t wait to plan a return trip one day soon!
A few lessons learnt:
Worth paying for a lounge at the airport if not included with your ticket especially if they have a kids zone. They provided fresh milk for Austin and heated it up too.
We also paid for the valet parking at Heathrow (we usually do the park and ride) so just a two-minute walk to departures and with a toddler and lots of luggage this was so convenient.
Luggage needs to be considered when hiring a car. Thanks to BA club traveller allowance we checked in 4 suitcases and a pushchair so struggled to fit them in a medium size car with a car seat in the back.
Plan the toll roads so you don’t get charged a daily rate of €80 for just a few miles driving.
If you can’t take a sat nav then hire one, we would have been horrendously lost without ours.
If you are staying near the Lakes make sure you take insect repellant! I have never been so badly bitten in all my life!
Staying in a villa is great for convenience but nice to have the option to go out for dinner and shops within walking distance.
At this age (15 months) Austin isn’t overly fussed by Children’s entertainment so you can still enjoy holidays outside of a family resort.
Don’t be afraid to road trip with a baby/toddler, its great fun and if you time it right (Naps & Snacks) the car journeys are actually quite enjoyable!
Ciao, Kate xxx