If you’re wondering “Is Italy open to US travelers,” then the answer is Yes! Here, I detail my experience of a trip to Lake Como and the Dolomites following borders reopening to the US in 2021. Restrictions are constantly changing; however, you’ll find the latest information below.
After 16 long months, restrictions were finally relaxed for US citizens traveling to Europe. I immediately jumped on the chance to take a trip to Italy, a country which holds a very special place in my heart.
Touching down in Rome sent a shiver of exhilaration through me. It felt liberating to be able to travel again, and there’s nowhere else I’d have rather gone. As all of our documents had already been checked in New York, passing customs in Italy was a breeze. They have an innovative walk-through temperature scanner that helps speed things along.
For our first trip back to Italy, we decided to visit the ever-beautiful Grand Hotel Tremezzo on the iconic Lake Como. I often book this stunning property for my clients, and it never disappoints. Perched on the western shores of the lake, it features incredible Belle Époque architecture, hearkening back to the golden age of exploration – with all the glamorous details and exceptional service to match.
The Grand Hotel Tremezzo has navigated the troubled waters of the pandemic with class, having used closures to make magnificent updates to the period property. Luxury envelops you from the moment you arrive through the majestic, gilded gates.
There is old-world opulence in every detail, from the banquet-sized breakfast to the breathtaking views from the terrace. Here, the turquoise waters of Lake Como are backed by the jagged outlines of the Italian Alps. However, my favorite spot in the hotel has got to be the more secluded second pool, found at the top of an ivy-clad staircase. It’s the ideal spot for lunch or a quiet nap on one of the many plush sunbeds.
Meanwhile, some of the best things to do in Lake Como outside of the hotel include hiking and taking a boat ride to visit the many charming towns on the water.
After spending two days being teased by views of the mountains, we decided to make the Italian Dolomites our next stop. We drove five hours from Lake Como to Alta Badia, the gateway to the region. We stopped off at Bergamo en route, an authentic Alpine town where you can take a funicular for even more exceptional views, or simply wander the cobbled streets for a spot of coffee. The drive then took us north, passing by the Valpolicella Vineyards. If you have time, I’d strongly recommend stopping off for a tasting – Villa Della Torre is a fantastic option.
When you finally arrive in the Dolomiti proper, the scenery really does take your breath away. We arrived after sundown, meaning waking up the next day and opening the curtains was a real sight to behold. We stayed at Ciasa Salares in Alta Badia, a luxurious log cabin-style property with an excellent location.
Just across the road, you will find numerous lifts to help you access the higher reaches of the mountains in summer or winter. On our first day, we went hiking across one of the ridges, while the second day saw us renting e-bikes to rise to an elevation of 7000ft. But there is no end to the adventures possible in the Dolomites.
Cortina offers adrenaline-pumping activities such as Via Ferrata and adventure parks, while Lagazuoi 5 Torri is home to fascinating war history and museums. Winter brings blankets of diamond-glinted snow and ski-enthusiasts from around the world, with over 450 ski lifts and over 750 miles of slopes to enjoy.
It’s easy to work up an appetite in the Dolomites, but thankfully, it’s also easy to find world-class fare. There are some spectacular lodges up in the mountains serving hearty, homemade cuisine, perfect for fueling up for an afternoon of adventure.
We also enjoyed eating at Ciasa Salares each evening. After taking advantage of the modern wellness facilities to soothe our aching muscles, we had the option of three different restaurants on-site. There is even an incredible room just for cheese, and a hidden chocolate room, which features over 120 different varieties of the good stuff. We embarked on a journey of flavor discovery in the Cellar, before retiring to our room with a few precious chocolate samples. It was the perfect way to end a day in the magic of the mountains.
Each time I visit this special country, I try to find a new perspective on a familiar favorite. Italy never fails to surprise and delight in this regard and is constantly calling me back. There is so much to discover in terms of culture, food, and history in this incredible country, and I’d be thrilled to put together an itinerary for you that is equally as special.
To speak to me about planning your dream Italian vacation, click here.