It felt like home from the minute we stepped off the train. We talked to our airbnb host, Silvano, over the phone, as he offered to pick us up from the grocery store as soon as he was free. He was extremely apologetic about making us wait, but he actually appeared as we completed our shopping and rain had begun sprinkling the concrete. The drive up the mountain was winding, narrow, and steep. I was so grateful that we did not have to cart all those groceries up the mountain. After walking down a set of metal steps that seemed to float above the lake, we walked down a path lined with blooming hydrangea bushes to our home for the next 4 days. Our airbnb was a little 500 sq foot house built into the side of the mountain, surrounded by a beautiful garden popping with color and scented with fruits and a slight undertone of damp earth.
This little airbnb was one of the highlights of our trip to Europe. Silvano, our host, handbuilt the entire house out of locally sourced wood and stone. The patio outside featured a hammock, which I spent one of our days just napping in and watching the lake. The living room on the top level featured a huge picture window with a panoramic view of the lake, mountains, and Bellano nestled at the bottom. The patio was our favorite place to eat dinner each night, while the sun set behind the alpine foothills.
The living room on the upper floor
The view out the picture window-sun shining while it rained
The patio where we listened to Italian radio, ate dinner, and relaxed in the hammock while the sun set over the mountainsSilvano invited us down the slope to his house one evening to share a beer and some company. Kiwis hung down between the slats of his patio, while raspberries, figs, and vegetables grew in neat terraced rows throughout the yard. Silvano invited us to eat from the basket of produce that he had plucked from his garden that afternoon, while he regaled us with tales from his life. He had lived all over Europe, and was busting with pride about his son, who was grown and lived in the nearby town of Lecco. Silvano joked that he reached Bellano 30 years ago, set down roots, and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. He even allowed us into his own house, which he also built. While in a very similar style, his house had some impressive features as well- including a gorgeous niche that he left natural. With a flip of a switch, he could turn on a water feature and water would flow across, creating this little nature scene that echoed the mountains he loved behind the glass.
“You like?” he would ask in his thick Italian accent, grinning from ear to ear as we gushed over his work, or his garden, or Bellano in general.
The view from Silvano’s patio between the kiwi leaves
He gifted us with a jar of his homemade raspberry jam after our visit to his home. We finished the whole jar before we checked out, it was so good on everything (even pork chops). This, I thought, is how we should have planned our whole trip. Spend an extended amount of time at a cool airbnb, in a beautiful place, without running around trying to see “everything” that particular place has to offer. Meet the locals on their level, and just relax. Bellano, and Silvano’s beautiful airbnb, opened my eyes to what travel should really be.
The view of Bellano from our airbnbPhotos 1, 2, 3, and 5 are courtesy of Silvano’s airbnb listing with permission from Silvano
All other photos are property of the author