When my sister came to stay: Part 4 Lecco and Leaving for Rome


I had a bit of trouble with this one. We had one last full day before we jetted off to Rome for the weekend (ha that sounds so glamorous, but we were flying with easyjet my dears) and I had wanted to go to Lake Garda but the weather forecast said it was going to rain...and that wouldn't be much fun. So I had to think of a plan B, something that didn't require much forward planning.

So we settled on Lecco.

I had been there before, waaay back in that first week when I was all alone. I kinda wanted to explore new places but it was fine, this time I would be with the sis and that makes a whole lotta difference.

In the end the day was filled with glorious sunshine.

I was a little irritated. Turns out Italian forecasts are just as rubbish as English ones!

But Lecco in the sunshine is much better than Lecco in the rain, so I can't complain.

We arrived just after 1, the town sleepy as people feasted on leisurely lunches, avoiding the hot midday sun. This would've been the perfect day to try out a restaurant here and lunch by the lake, glass of prosecco in hand. Che bello!

But we had got to the point where we were running out of money, so we made do with a lovingly prepared (by me the big sis) packed lunch instead by the lake, breathing in the fresh, clean air.

But if it's one thing we couldn't pass on it was Gelato. We chose Grom, one of the few Geleteria chains in Italy. Being a chain, you might think it wouldn't be quite so good, but actually it was one of the yummiest yet!

Similar to Bergamo, there isn't really that much to do here (you can't actually swim in the lake, unless you get another bus somewhere) but it's a perfect afternoon of wandering around a picturesque town in the mountains, at the foot of a huuuge beautiful lake that glistens under the hot, August sun.

Yeah we were taking those kind of pictures

And I always come away from Lecco feeling relaxed and refreshed, the lake floating my troubles away on it's clear blue water.

What better way to end the day than with an aperitvo at "Park Cafe" on the walk back from the station.

This place is pretty awesome. Mainly because it's a 10 minute walk from my house but also because it's kind of everything in one.

As well as being a bar, there's also a pool, club, gym and fitness classes (of which I just signed up to do to Zumba!).

We stopped and took a table outside in the garden and it was lovely.

It's 6 euros for a cocktail and buffet - bargain! Especially becuase that ended up being our dinner.
Only awkward thing was I wasn't really sure what a buffet in Italy meant.

Could we go up as much as we wanted?

How many plates were acceptable before they started giving us dirty looks?

In England "Buffet" means pile as much as you can onto your plate and eat until you feel sick (memories of Jimmy Spice's in Bath) but I'm pretty sure this isn't what the Italians intended, they're not as greedy as us. We went up a few times before I felt guilty about the number of plates on our table.

A good way to end my sister's time in the North, because the next day it was off too...


This beautiful city is where my Dad grew up. Yes, that makes me half Italian and I love it! Mostly because it makes me feel different and all mysterious and stuff, but also because I've got to experience another culture: the food, the trips back to Rome to visit, hearing the language when my parents speak to each other (it's so weird they never talk in English with each other).

Despite having two parents that spoke it, and living here until I was 3, after they divorced, what started as bilingual slowly slipped away into just English. Sad times.

My mum says it was my Dad's fault because he was the Italian one, with the proper accent so he had to teach me (my mum's roman accent is flawless anyway). My Dad says he couldn't because he only saw me at the weekend.

Totally exasperating! 

But I've forgiven them (sort of) because finally after years of not being able to communicate properly with the other half of my family, I started to study it first at A level, then at Uni, so I'm getting there!

Hopefully I'll be fluent  by the end of my 7 months here. ehem... 

Oops that ended up into a bit of a life story. Sorry.

Anyway, what I'm getting at is that being half Italian and having family here, you can have a (almost) free holiday!

And I couldn't come live in Milan without popping down to visit my Nonna could I?

Conveniently, she lives pretty central, like 3 metro stops away from the Colosseum central!

Awesome huh?

But funnily enough we didn't venture in that direction.
In fact we had a rather non touristy weekend because - not to sound snobby or anything - but we've kind of done it all before.,.

So it was just nice to spend time with my Italian family, relaxing and eating. Oh boy was there a lot of that going on!

My Nonna is the best cook in the world, hands down. Jamie Oliver ain't got nothing on her! And she cooks enough for a small army. It just keeps coming!

The first night we were there, it was "Ferrogosto"- a national holiday, a bit like a bank holiday in England, but religious based (of course). I was a bit worried about flying on this day because transport is a bit unreliable at the best of times, let alone on a day where the whole country is shut.

But it was all good and we arrived in the early evening, just in time for the feast my Nonna had prepared.

Menu alla Nonna

(ospiti 6)

Antipasti    bruschetta 
                              Primo     pasta al forno (pasta bake)
                                                    Secondi    pollo con peperoni (chicken with peppers) 
                                              meat coated in breadcrumbs 
                                                                Cotorni    insalate (salad but not as we know it)
                                                                                 melanzane alla grigliata (grilled aubergines)
                                                                    I dolci  cocomero (watermelon)
                                                                 Da bere  vino Bianco

Mamma mia!

VERY yummy but VERY VERY filling. I. Could. Not, Move.

The problem is, you forget there are so many courses and stuff your face with the first one because it's so good and then when she comes out with another plate you're like oh no. And then the next plate, and the next. And even if you say basta she still gives you more!

Despite feeling like I was going to burst at any moment it was a lovely evening and I got to see my aunty and meet a cousin I'd never met before!

I think the whole thing took it out of my Nonna though, because as soon as we were done she had to go lie down, bless her.  I'm not surprised, she must've been cooking for days!

And what better way to recover from all that food than lying on the beach the next day.


If you want to go to the beach in Rome (being a tourist is tiring I know) get the metro towards LIDO but do not get off at the Ostia stop, or the one after that, or even the one after that.

Wait until the very last one, cristofo colombo  then hop on the Number 7 bus from outside the station and get off at cancello (gate) numero 4.

Patience is a virtue my friend because it is equally as beautiful and will be less crowded.

(Dont worry about the fact you have to travel further, the price of the ticket all the way there is still only 1.50- ah Rome you are kind to poor students!)

Also, don't worry about getting up too early.

You know... you are on holiday!

So we rolled out of bed after 10, sleeing in as much as we could before our Nonna thought we had been asleep for too long and pressed a coffee on us.

The choice for breakfast was of course biscuits. FYI this is a traditional Italian breakfast. It has been known for my Nonna to also provide cakes and croissants.

Italian breakfast = sugar/nutella/anything bad for you.

Talking of Nutella, there was some in the cupboard so naturally I dolloped this on top. As the saying goes- you can never have too much chocolate.

Satisfied with our intake of sugar for the whole day for the morning, we packed our bags, mostly filled with the picnic provided by my Nonna.

I think I should probably explain at this point, that Italian packed lunches are a little different than English ones.

Of course, it wouldn't be complete without pasta. We had pasta bake (the best you will ever taste in your life- just ask my boyfriend).

AND paninis (sandwiches, not to be mistaken with the toasted English version) with Omlette inside.


Yes I realize this is a bit weird to all you English folk out there, but it's really yummy!


Also handy tip- if your bread is going a bit hard, make an Omlette sandwhich and it'll be nice and soft again!

Of course, we didn't leave a thing.

There's just something about being by the Sea that makes you really hungry, no?

Feeling happy and full, we lead down to sunbathe, letting the sleepy feeling drift over us until the chatter of Italian and the ring of the beach sellers' "coco fresco" became a distant murmur.

We woke up in time to catch the sunglasses seller.

Italy is the only place (that I've been to anyway) where you can go to the beach for the day and come back looking like you've spent it shopping instead.

This is because the beaches are teeming with people wandering up and down the stretches of sand, trying to make a living selling anything from jewelry and hats to coconuts and donuts.

There is a good and bad side to this.

On the one hand they can be really annoying, coming up to you when you are just trying to relax.


On the other hand...

Fake Raybans!

I totally did not intend to buy anything, but my sister was looking and he offered us a cheeky two for one deal...how could I refuse?

That makes number 3 of the (fake) Rayban collection.

Money spent, we headed back home, in time for tea!

But that wasn't the end to our day. Oh no.

Keen to make the most of what little time we had in Rome, we ate, showered, changed and were off again!

The destination: Trasteverie.

During the summer months, this place comes alive with hundreds of stalls along the river. There are jewelry stalls, book stalls, vintage stalls selling old film posters and Vinyl, pop up restaurants, bars and free Music (among many others).

It's just a lovely place!

And so, so pretty.

Sadly we didn't have much time (last bus and all that, plus our Nonna is a bit of a worrier) so we only had time for a bit of a wander and a cocktail of course.

Gone in a Flash!

The bar we chose was nice, decorated with cosy bean bags and homely bookshelves...but it was kinda pricey.

8 euros for a teeny glass!- I couldn't help comparing it to Milan.

I could get one double the size AND with food for that price. Plus, the woman said something about an alcohol law and being by the river (I wasn't 100 percent sure because she was explaining in Italian) so I think that meant it was basically just fruit juice.

Ok I sound bitter and I shouldn't but I just hate getting ripped off!

That aside, it was a nice evening and the last one with my sister. *sob

She's a funny one

The next day I would be flying back to Milan, leaving her to fend for herself with my Nonna for a couple of days. I say fend, because my Nonna doesn't speak any English and my sister no Italian!

Could be interesting...

So I ate my last feast, soaked up the last rays of hot Roman sun and said my Goodbyes.

Come back and visit me soon Sis!