A few years ago I tried to get my husband to go on a trip to the lake country in northern Italy. My husband is 2nd generation Italian American from Naples and Sicily. Go up north? Fuhgeddaboutit! They don’t serve red sauce! Please? Well, love wins out every time and I was soon booking a room at the venerable Villa d’ Este on Lake Como. My husband and I decided that on this trip, besides doing the usual travel sites, to do the Ellen and Clark Griswold “unusual” sites trip. Up first was the River of Milk, an 820 foot long river that flows white foam and water from mid-March until Mid-October. And then it just dries up. Next was a 75 foot statue on the hills above Lake Maggiore of Cardinal San Carlo Borromeo. It took 83 years to construct this thing. Not much to see but as you pan the horizon you do see a castle soaring above the lake. We head on over and discover it is a 13th century Roman castle filled with 17th and 18th century tapestries and the largest BARBIE DOLL collection in Italy. Now THAT was a surprise.
The biggest surprise awaited us back at the Villa. We had been so busy that we didn’t realize that the Villa was getting ready for it’s annual 4th of July party in honor of American soldiers liberating them during World War Two. They began this celebration back in the late 1940’s. Because we were unaware of the festivities, we were too late to sign up for their magnificent dinner with wine pairings. So my husband and I ate at a local trattoria and headed back to the Villa. From our balcony we had a magnificent view of the Villa as well as the Lake Como. About 9 p.m. an orchestra started to set up on the magnificent patio area. We went out onto our patio with a superb bottle of Chianti and watched them set up. We were then transported back in time to the 1920’s. The singers sang songs such as It Had to Be You, Ain’t Misbehavin’, and Old Man River. Then they moved on into the 30’s and 40’s with the big band era and crooners crooning. They took us right into the ’50s with the Big Bopper and the jitterbug. While all of this was going on, small row boats were moving into the center of the lake to set up a flotilla of fireworks. Meanwhile, locals were parking their vehicles on the mountain roads behind the Villa. You can not imagine the beauty of the fireworks reflecting off of the lake and the surrounding mountain ranges. The fireworks lasted about 45 minutes. All the while the local residents were clapping and whistling and voicing their pleasure over the event. I have to regard this evening as one of my best travel memories. Oh, and I hear George Clooney goes to this event. Honey, I think a trip to the Villa D’ Este during the 4th of July would be perfect, don’t you? Please?