Embracing change in one aspect of your life has a sort of snowball effect: It will usually roll change through all aspects of your life.
Deciding to marry an Italian and move to Italy five years ago is a clear example – every aspect of my life was changed! Now, welcoming sweet baby Adeline into our lives, the snowball gets bigger. A newborn changes everything, not least of which our travel plans.
As an Italophile, Sagittarius and insatiably curious person, I absolutely need travel in my life. Now, my curiosity extends to how travel will fit in our lives with an infant. My number one plan? Explore the sites close to home. So when I was nearly 9 months pregnant with Addie, I bought a Lombardia Museum Pass for free entry to nearly all of Lombardy’s museums.
Luckily for me, Lombardy has a wealth of towns, history and food to explore.
You might be traveling to Rome, Florence and Venice, but I’m touring the churches of villages, the lanes around my own backyard, the small exhibits, museums and bell towers of Lombardy.
In 2017 we made one big trip back home to America, visiting Cleveland and Kelley’s Island in the process, but otherwise, we stayed close to home. The furthest we went in Italy was a two-hour drive to Camogli, a town along the Mediterranean Coast, and even that was just for one night. Yes, it’s more complicated with a baby, more stressful, expensive, whatever. But the truth is, we were just tired. Long nights with our newborn sapped our initiative. It was all about survival mode. See: My Life With an Infant, in Numbers
Every now and then, though, I had to get out. Just now when I did, I kept it to a reasonable radius.
This year I (re)visited Monza more than once, Bergamo, Varenna and Lecco and Milan, enjoying each through the eyes of family and friends visiting for the first time. I took a pre-baby day-trip to Pavia and post-baby long escapes up to the mountains for some R&R. And though hardly any location was new for me, I still learned something new about each and every one.
I discovered a new route from Bergamo Bassa to Bergamo Alta and a church and history along the way. I found a baby-friendly parking lot at my favorite castle above Varenna and toured two villas along the lake that I’d never seen before, Villa Carlotta and Villa Monastero (click for the gorgeous spring photos). I found a lovely boutique run by someone from near my town and a wine bar along the Navigli in Milan that nevertheless felt far from the crowds. I traveled the world through the rotating art exhibits in the Villa Reale of Monza and finally made it to Mudec, a hip contemporary art museum in the south of Milan
The Lombardia Museum Pass essentially gets you in to any museum in the region for free, and gives discounts to major art exhibitions in the area. If you’re planning on spending a lot of time in the area, its 45 euro could be worth it. It costs 30 euro just to visit Palazzo Te and Piazza Gonzaga in Mantua, nevermind the dozens of museums in Milan. Though I personally didn’t come close to using it to its full advantage (baby), I did get my money’s worth with two art exhibits in Monza, two villa tours and a visit to the Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Milan – the first permanent museum I’ve actually been to besides the Pinocoteca di Brera. (It seems I’ve dedicated all of my Milan time to its incredible temporary art exhibits.) Proving that even though I live here, I still have plenty of exploring to do!
I’m a big proponent of exploring small-town Italy, of trying lesser known locales and getting deeper in our travels. I’m an even bigger proponent of letting your travel and life work together, and choosing what works for you when. For me this year that meant sticking close to home, and I’m far better off for it!
But remember: You don’t need to be heading to some international locale or Instagram-star destination to travel. Close-to-home exploration is easy, fun and stress-free, and you’re sure to find something new.
So tell me, what’s on your list to explore in your own backyard?