Those who know us, know that we travel a lot for work. And whilst at it, we take out some time to explore the city and revel in its essence. This time too, we planned a three-day work trip to Milan. But instead of doing what we always do, we decided to put an end to our two-decade long travel format and take a proper vacation post our work trip.

After attending a meetings-marathon in Milan, we headed to the leisurely, picturesque Lake Como. As soon as we reached the villa at the shores of the lake, we were spellbound by its beauty. It is no wonder that much-in-love couples choose to tie the knot against the backdrop of this serene lake.

Lake Como, a natural masterpiece cradled in the heart of Italy, showcases a panorama of unparalleled beauty. Its azure blue waters, kissed by the sun’s gentle rays, coexist beautifully with the surrounding hills covered in emerald hues of the lush green cypress trees lining the promenades. Villas, like aristocratic sentinels, stand proudly along the shoreline, and their reflections create a chiaroscuro on the mirror-like surface. Each step along the shores echoes with stories of its history. We were at Lake Como for two days, out of which one day we’d allocated for a quick shoot. Yes, we’d decided that we’d take no work with us anywhere after we left Milan but looking at the pictures of Lake Como, we couldn’t help but keep an easy-breezy shoot (akin to Lake Como’s vibe) for day two. But on the first day, we decided to make the most of our stay at the palatial Hilton Lake Como.

The beauty about the hotel is that it is neither deeply immersed in the heart of Como nor nestled by the peaceful lakefront, it strikes a balance. The Passeggiata di Via Olmo—a charming lakefront promenade, guides you to the historical centre with each step. Formerly a textile mill, the hotel now breathes with bright and stylish contemporary décor. We checked in and were greeted by professionally trained staff, who are not just the warmest bunch of people, but also helped us in the best possible way and offered us an array of services, right from boat rentals to airport transfers. We checked into one of their suites which was adorned in neutral delicate palettes and exuded tasteful furnishings in a classic contemporary style. The large windows allowed ample light inside, and soft tones of grey, blue, and brown made a great match with the lake’s hues which we could see from our suite’s patio. What was impressive was the play of textures like wood, stone, and soft fabrics that offered a cosy and welcoming ambiance despite being a corporate hotel chain. The marble bathrooms with rain showers added a touch of luxury. Although all rooms boast lake views, the hotel isn’t lakefront, so expect a distant but alluring sliver of blue in the panorama. But that’s what became our favourite spot for the day as we lounged away taking in the breathtaking beauty of the landscape. We spent the day unwinding at the hotel and feasting on the delectable Italian fare that was rustled up in the kitchen run by world-class chefs.



The next day, we headed to our shoot location Villa Pliniana—a historic property since 1573 that is now converted into a heritage, boutique hotel. Though it has weathered the passage of time with elegance, this hidden gem remains discreetly tucked away, known only to those with an appreciation for the blend of history and luxury. Despite boasting all the amenities of a world-class resort, the villa remains authentically Italian, steeped in its rich cultural roots. Adjacent to the villa, the Colorée Valley stream cascades into Lake Como in a majestic seventy-metre waterfall and an intermittent spring—which are the most coveted feature of the villa. The wonder of the intermittent spring, the ceaseless sound of water, the quietness of the woods, the breathtaking view, the echoes of history—all of this turns staying in the Villa Pliniana into a unique and incomparable stay—and for us, a shoot backdrop. As planned, our shoot was a breeze where we shot our brand’s latest resort wear line. On wrapping up, we decided to spend some more time at the villa to be a few moments more amidst its history and grandeur.



As we neared our stint at Lake Como, we were gearing up for the last leg of our trip. We were headed to Rome. Apart from the fact that it was our first time in Rome, what excited us more was that we’d be spending Christmas Eve here. December is truly the best time of the year as cities all over the world deck up to bring in Christmas. The festive spirit is in the air and you can’t help but be in awe of how gorgeous each of the cities look with the bright Christmas lights and decor. So, as soon as we reached Rome, we set out to explore the city after checking into our hotels. We had decided that we’d walk around the city as much as we can to revel in the Christmas fervour. While wandering through the streets of Rome we could see stories of its history, culture, and timeless charm through its architecture. Each cobblestone pathway, adorned with ancient ruins and Renaissance palaces, leads to some interesting stories. Vibrant markets, cosy cafes, and the bustling piazzas at every turn made our exploration even more interesting. Needless to say, there were quite a handful of serendipitous discoveries, revealing hidden gems and traces of authentic Roman life. When in Rome, one can absorb the essence of this eternal city—where every corner tells a story, by the simple pleasure of a leisurely walk. In the next two-three days, we found ourselves doing the most touristy things that we enjoyed thoroughly. From visiting the Colosseum—an iconic symbol of ancient Rome, that is an ode to the architectural prowess and gladiatorial history, to finding ourselves at the Trevi fountain—we did it all. While the massive colossal amphitheatre and the majestic arches and corridors of the Colosseum reminded us of the gladiatorial contests and other such spectacles, the melodious sounds of water echoes against the intricately sculpted figures, including Neptune, at the Trevi fountain made the city feel like a poetry of sorts. And of course, we tossed a coin over our shoulders, hoping to secure our return to the Eternal City soon!



The best and the most unforgettable part of our trip was our visit to the Vatican City on Christmas Eve. It was one of our bucket list moments come true and we couldn’t believe it till we saw the Pope ourselves! The Vatican City is not only the epicentre of Catholicism, naturally, but also home to St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums, and the Sistine Chapel, due to its religious and artistic heritage, which draws pilgrims and art enthusiasts from around the world. Being in Vatican City on Christmas Eve is an ethereal experience. The iconic St. Peter’s Square transformed into a glorious sight with thousands of people and the twinkling lights. Pilgrims and visitors gathered beneath the grandeur of St. Peter’s Basilica, and one could hear echoes of Christmas carols fill the air. The anticipation built as the Pope arrived and delivered the Midnight Mass. The atmosphere was charged and every bit of it was magical beyond words! The experience humbled us and made us grateful for everything that we have. The next day, we visited the Sistine Chapel in the Apostolic Palace that is in the heart of the Vatican City. It is filled with masterpieces from the Renaissance era and adorned with Michelangelo’s breathtaking frescoes. The ethereal ceiling, painted with iconic scenes like “The Creation of Adam”, transforms this sacred space into an iconic sanctuary of art and spirituality. There’s a saying apparently that “God created the world in seven days, but it took Michelangelo four years to depict it on this remarkable ceiling.” But when you see the paintings, you’d best believe that the precision must’ve taken not four but 40 years to be completed. Every frame and every brush stroke has a story to tell.



After absorbing the history, culture, stories and beauty–as much as we could–we headed back to our hotel and set out to head back to India. But with only one desire in our hearts—that our wish when we tossed the coin at Trevi fountain comes true and soon!



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