We first came here 19 years ago on our way to Tuscany. It’s a miracle we ever came to Italy again. Cernobbio was and is tiny and pretty, beautifully set on the edge of lake Como. Near by is Como town itself. We stayed then in the hotel Centrale which was simple and ok. This time we are in a slightly posher place, with a fantastic lake view. But as I said we were on our way to Tuscany then. We had hired a flat in a large farmhouse somewhere amongst the vineyards not far from Siena. The flat was big and the top floor was the children’s room. It had a great big beam running the length of it at head height. Precisely my head height. I kept on bumping my head whenever I went in. Not nice. 

Our bedroom was tiny and was lit by two 25 watt lamps. Useless. The kitchen was big but dark. Jacek was thrilled because he could cook to his hearts content. There was a little village nearby which had an excellent butcher. They took us round the back to show us the cow so we could choose the precise cut of meat we wanted. The greengrocer had a magnificent variety of exotic vegetables. All well and good. But after he had used every fish and pot and pan it was then left to me to do the washing up. In theory I did not mind. But I did. The problem was the water. A tiny trickle of warm water came out of the tap. Very, very slowly. It was so frustrating. And then when I saw a mouse at the window with great big ears and a long long tale it was just too much.

It was dark and unfriendly and there was nothing to do or see. I just remember being bored out of my mind. Just olive groves and vines for miles around. 

There was a swimming pool of sorts outside – I don’t swim tho the children did. There was a nice family we talked to a bit. The one bit of excitement was when Marysia toppled in and was immediately rescued by a boy whose name I don’t remember. It was extremely scary though. 

One day we decided to go on a day trip to Siena. Poor Marysia was very disappointed when we arrived and we never met or saw Enna at all! We went to a restaurant that wouldn’t let the children have ketchup. Long faces all round. 

Most disastrous of all was when I wanted to look at a window display of lollipops in the shape of feet. For some reason this was the last straw for Jacek. 

As I say this was not the best holiday in Italy that we had. We came back via Chamonix which was such a relief despite being cold and wet. 

Yet the following year we decided to go to Italy again. Risky but actually brilliant. We didn’t go back to Cernobbio but further along the lake to Menaggio. We discovered a wonderful motel there and returned many times. Italy, all is forgiven. We’re going to Menaggio again tomorrow! 

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