Fodor's European Correspondent Pepita Diamand is a creative consultant and blogger based in Paris.
This is her and Monsieur having cocktails at Villa D'Este. But, of course.
I don't know what I was thinking when I made that pledge. I definitely wasn't thinking about the sunshine that welcomed us to Lake Como, or the hotel's floating swimming pool, or the Riva speedboats that whisk you along the coast to gawk at glorious mansions owned by the likes of Donatella Versace, Richard Branson, and George Clooney. Had I been thinking about all that when I wrote my last post, I would have signed off with a Ciao for now, because I won't be looking at my laptop until I'm home.
Well, I'm home and I'm pleased to report that our two week driving holiday from Paris to Tuscany and back was a resounding success. And so was my packing list. Mostly.
Considering our need to pack light (thanks to my Monsieur's big bike in the back of our little A-Class) I managed to have enough clothing for every occasion, from hikes in the sweltering Tuscan heat, to glamorous dinners overlooking the splendour of Portofino.
I attribute this to my completely anal mind-map method of making up a packing list, which matches outfits to possible events and activities on a draft calendar, even if my calendar didn't anticipate surprises like Como's Swing Crash Dance Festival, which is best attended in gangster gear. (Who knew!) Of the 16 dresses and 1 trouser-and-top set that I'd packed for 15 days away, I wore everything except for 1 floor-length gown (not gangster enough, of course) and I repeated 6 dresses twice. Not bad, considering we were sharing a suitcase.
In the end I was glad we'd made the harsh decision to travel light, because just 2 days after our adventure began, our car was laden with wine bought in Burgundy. By the time we left Tuscany with a few cases of Chianti, loading the car was like a fraught game of Tetris.
We didn't, however, do as much clothes shopping as we could have, despite the fact our amazing route is as perfect for shopaholics as for wine-lovers. Between the boutiques in Portofino, the outlet shopping outside of Florence, and the fantastic fashion in Como's centre, I could have brought an empty suitcase and bought everything I needed en route.
Instead, I showed remarkable restraint (mainly because our budget went almost entirely to wine), settling on a single strapless maxi-dress (essential holiday wear and perfect for strolling around Florence on a hot afternoon, and pictured above) and 2 pairs of shoes from the outlet; a pair of strappy Tod's platforms and some sexy Stella McCartney nude pumps. Shoe shopping at The Mall is the stuff girly-dreams are made of, with stacks of Fendi, Gucci, and Sergio Rossi to tempt you at tempting (though not cheap) prices. Had my wallet not been flattened at Chateau de Pommard, I could have easily spent 4 or 5 hours acquiring enough heals, wedges, and boots to push the car's capacity to its limits.
As for my packing list, it was mostly successful but not entirely so, because it missed one crucial item: a tie for Monsieur. While my calendar had prepared me for fancy dinners at Villa d'Este, it hadn't prepared us for the jacket-and-tie policy that's strictly maintained by the hotel's restaurant on Lake Como's glistening edge. A note for next time, and oh my, do I hope there is a next time.
More about our magical driving, hiking, cycling (Monsieur only), shopping (me, mainly), and wine tasting trip can be found at www.pepitastylefile.com.
Photo credits: Bellagio peninsula Lake Como via Shutterstock; all other photos courtesy of Pepita Diamand.