Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Lake Como!

While we were in Europe, we stopped by Lake Como! We only went for a day trip and it was a lot of fun! We took a train from Milan to Varenna and explored the lake by water bus. Lake Como is really beautiful and we loved the town of Bellagio. We also took the water bus to Lenno, which has Villa del Balianello on it, which is a villa that has been used for a James Bond movie and for a Star Wars movie. We didn't go into the villa, but saw it from outside.

my dad sitting after the long hike up. 

After our trip to the lake, I started to wonder what the history of Lake Como was. The geographical location of Lake Como made me wonder if it had been a location of possible political moves. When I looked it up, it appears that I was correct!

Originally, the city of Como was inhabited by a Celtic tribe. The tribe had chosen to start their city in the neighboring hills surrounding the lake. After the Romans took control of the city, Julius Caesar decided to move the city to the lake. Caesar drained the southern tip of the lake an built a walled city, which is where the city of Como is now located. Isn't it so bizarre that the Ancient Romans were that innovative? I am always blow away by the things they did back then! There is a castle in the hills near the current city of Como, which shows you where the Celtic city used to be. There are also still villas surrounding the lake from the Ancient Roman period.

Como was eventually taken over in 774 by Charlemagne and there it became an important trading city. While under Charlemagne, it was a free commune until it was destroyed by the Milanese. Eventually they made peace and Como was set under the rule of the Visconti and Sforza family of Milan. Under these families, Como became a big producer of wool and silk and were the big suppliers of those products for Milan. This makes me think of my silk scarf and how the silk has so much more history than I realized! Como is actually now the site of the National Silk Institute!

Overtime, Como was under many different rulers and was constantly changing alliances. It wasn't until 1859 that it was part of the Italian kingdom again.

One other interesting fact: Mussolini, while trying to escape Switzerland after WWII, was captured in the city of Dongo (a city on Lake Como) and was brought to Mezzegra (another Lake Como city). In Mezzegra, he was executed by firing squad. There is actually an American newsreel from the time about the event online - it is surprisingly graphic! I didn't know they were allowed to show things like that back then.

So there ya go! You probably weren't expecting this kind of blog post... I wasn't either! I am sorry if it was kinda boring, I thought it was super interesting!

some nuns enjoying some gelato



Saturday, October 13, 2018


Michael and I went to Europe two weeks ago and we had a total blast! For our first day, we were in Paris and then we flew to Innsbruck for the UCI World Championships Road Race. Michael does road racing and seeing the UCI World Champs has always been a dream of his, so we made it happen! If you want to see more on my trip, check out my instagram highlights here

Innsbruck is so beautiful. It is like a prettier and cuter version of Park City. It is surrounded by monstrous mountains and has the prettiest architecture. On our first day, we watched the woman's race in the city. It was pretty cool seeing these bikes race by the beautiful buildings and the river.

Watching the men's road race on the second day there was super fun because we had to climb up into the mountains and to see some of the fun areas of the race with hills. Before going to Innsbruck, Michael and I watched Sound of Music (childhood favorite) and I had the songs stuck in my head the entire time were were there (not mad about it).

While we were up in the hills watching the race, we had some extra time and so we stopped by Ambras Castle. The art historian in me couldn't pass up an opportunity to see the "oldest art museum". Ambras Castle is a beautiful Renaissance castle that is closely related to Archduke Ferdinand II, who was  a big collector of art. He had an interesting museum of art & curiosities, which contains the oldest collection of Asian art acquired by Europeans. He also had portraits of strange people (see below). 

My favorite part of the castle was the Spanish Hall. This beautiful hall has the the most intricate wood ceiling and is lined with the portraits of the rulers of Tyrol. It is truly magnificent and the colors are just gorgeous. The portrait style is not my favorite, but the hall wouldn't be as beautiful without the artwork. 

I had to have Michael take some pictures of me outside too because the weather was so beautiful and I loved the details everywhere in the castle. So crazy that it was built so long ago. I love the use of grisaille in the courtyard. Grisaille is the when the artist uses monochromatic colors to imitate sculpture in their paintings, and you can see that in the courtyard. 

Don't you just love the beautiful green to red vines next to that bright red bannister? It is so beautiful! 

I honestly need to smile more in my pictures, cause I really don't look like I am enjoying myself! So moody looking in that photo, haha! While I look displeased, I absolutely loved Ambras Castle and Innsbruck! I am happy we made it happen!