Monique O'Neil


Monique O'Neil


Considering I’m known for being knowledgeable in geography I honestly didn’t know Lake Como existed until the start of 2017! It soon became a must-see destination for me, therefore, I added it to my dad and I’s road trip.

The drive from Milan to Bellagio, Lake Como was roughly an hour and a half long. The road around the lake itself was narrow and winding but the views of old villas stacked up along the lakeside edge never got old. Bellagio was recommended to me by a friend who had stayed in the area a few weeks earlier. The streets, filled with people and colours, were gorgeous and you were only allowed to drive down them if you were getting to a particular hotel. 

We stayed at Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni. Which was home to one of the most amazing pools I’ve ever come across. Lakeside, all topped off with a diving board located in the lake itself. It resembled something out of a movie to me. The hotel was surrounded by huge gardens, all in pristine condition.

Dining wasn’t shabby either. The hotel had a Michelin Star restaurant that had stunning food. A favourite of mine was the nitrogen ice cream which they made directly in front of you. If you didn’t feel like getting dressed up and were wanting something more low key, then there was another more relaxed restaurant downstairs near the pool.




I visited Rome for the first time mid-July 2017 and temperatures were sitting around 35 degrees celsius. It was quite intense considering we had no access to a pool, beach or any water activities, therefore making the heat unbearable at some points. We stayed relatively close to most things but decided to buy one of the hop on, hop off bus tickets that lasted 48 hours so we had an easy way to get around. Uber here cost a fortune and this way we could be dropped near the biggest hot spots in Rome easily. So many of the sights aren’t what I expected. The Trevi Fountain for example was a lot bigger than I had anticipated and soooo incredibly crowded. There are many restaurants and shops around this area so getting dropped here left us entertained for hours.


We only had two days here in Rome, therefore we had to prioritise what we wanted to do. 1 out of 3 of us had already visited the Colosseum so we decided to pass on that and instead did a full day guided tour through the Vatican to see the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. I would recommend trying to do this on a day when the heat isn’t above 30 degrees celsius as we had a day that was 34 and you are required to have covered shoulders and knees throughout the duration of the tour and boy oh boy did all of us melt.


When I went back to Rome at the end of my trip with Dad, because I was departing back to Sydney from here, we managed to go see the Spanish Steps and the surrounding area. If you are interested in seeing Rome’s history in-depth I’d suggest a week here at least because there is so much to do and see.


Just a hot travel tip for Milan – there is more than one airport. If like me you didn’t research/look at what flight you were booking, you can end up lost and it can take up to an hour to get into the city centre. Here, I was meeting up with my Dad – planned at the end of my trip – he was staying in the Townhouse Duomo which looks over the Duomo di Milano, I was spoilt with views of the square 24/7.


It truly is one of the fashion capitals’ of the world. If you haven’t picked up the hints already, I love fashion and am always keeping up to date with the latest trends. Milan was filled with all the top designers and their shop fit outs were amazing. The Gucci store was three stories with women’s, men’s and children. The Dolce & Gabbana store resembled somewhat of a maze and museum, it was stunning.


The food are per usual in Italy was amazing and there is so much variety within the city. If you aren’t a pasta addict like myself there are so many other non carb options to choose from and of course gelato options on every corner.












Things to do in Lake Como

  • Take the ferry across to the other side of the lake and have a wander
  • Have a Bellini lakeside under the floral arches
  • Walk along the streets
  • Enjoy a massage or facial at the Serbelloni spa
  • Take an old fashion boat day trip  and see the sights of George Clooney’s holiday house, as well as the royal family homes along the lake. You’ll learn some history about the establishing families of the area and be awed at how big the villas are. Make sure to look out for Richard Branson’s estate, it’s hard to miss as I thought it resembled something out of an Alice in Wonderland movie. Also, you’ll be shown famous filming sites for movies such as James Bond and Star Wars. Lunch will be on the direct opposite side of the lake from Bellagio and will satisfy your taste buds.














  • Go to the Vatican City
  • Walk along the river 
  • Make a wish at the Trevi Fountain
  • Get a Gelato 
  • See the ancient ruins of the Colosseum 
  • Eat PIZZA! 





Tuscany was wine country and we intended to taste as much of it as we could! Florence was so much smaller than I had anticipated. The streets were tiny and full of history. Cars were limited within the main centre making it super easy to walk around without a worry.

The food here was absolutely amazing; I don’t think we could fault any meal. I practically ate pasta for every meal and had no regrets about it. The world famous gelato was to die for as well. Again, as with Rome, the heat made walking around in direct sunlight quite a battle.


Must do’s in Florence:

  • Climb to the top of Florence Cathedral  
  • Look at the city from above and walk to the top of the Duomo
  • Go to the Uffizi Gallery
  • See the statue of David – Don’t recommend doing the tour unless super interested in the history, we thought it dragged on a bit. Much easier to just have a look around at everything yourself.
  • Walk across the Ponte Vecchio
  • Indulge in a glass of Italys finest wines - you are in tuscany after all!

New Zealander Photographer, Blogger & Content Creator