armchair traveler diaries Armchair Traveler Diaries: Andrea Grisdale’s Dispatch from Lake Como

Armchair Traveler Diaries: Andrea Grisdale’s Dispatch from Lake Como

The founder and CEO of IC Bellagio, a Virtuoso on-site tour connection in Italy, works with Virtuoso travel advisors to craft dream trips for their clients. These days she’s hosting virtual recipe competitions from her home overlooking Lake Como, planning a trip to Everest Base Camp, and having conversations that count.

What is life like for you right now?
I’m based in Bellagio in the heart of Lombardy, working from my beautiful home with views of Lake Como. Our 12-person task force is spread out throughout Lombardy. I would confidently say, closer than ever. We have daily 9 a.m. huddles via Zoom to keep us all up to date, and on Fridays at 4:30 p.m. we have an aperitivo together to celebrate the end of our working week.
 
In my house, we’re making amazing home cooked meals – we can go to the grocery store, fruit and vegetable store, the butcher, etc. And now our favorite pizzerias, gelaterias, restaurants, and pastry shops are delivering. Our wine cellars are being emptied and our waistlines are expanding. I’m have virtual aperitivos with family and friends using WhatsApp or Zoom and we have bake-offs and recipe competitions. I would say we have more meaningful conversations than we ever had time for before. Life is much slower and I have more time to reflect.
 
What do you do to stay sane?
I have three Labradors, a cow, and three donkeys. They are my therapists. We can walk within a short distance of our home and I have worked on a route that enables me to do four kilometers per session. I take each dog out once a day. I love making cookies and am organizing my pictures for the house (something that I have been meaning to do for four years now) as well as decluttering the house.
 
Have you put any travel plans on hold for the pandemic?
I had a big trip to Everest Base Camp planned for my 50th birthday, which I have postponed this until later this year or 2021. I also had business trips planned in Italy, and to Mexico and the U.S., plus a cruise in the Netherlands. I’m hoping to start traveling again in June here in Italy and catching up with all our partners throughout the country.

On Andrea’s list: The Southern Italian island of Pantelleria.
On Andrea’s list: The Southern Italian island of Pantelleria.
Photo by Getty Images 
Where do you want to go when travel is possible again?
I’m looking forward to my vacation in August to Pantelleria, one of the most beautiful islands in Italy. I hope to be able to participate in my entrepreneur master’s program at MIT in late June in Boston. And of course, lots of other travel around Italy.
 
Can you share a favorite travel memory?
Last year we took my parents and our dogs to the Dolomites to stay at Hotel Rosa Alpina’s beautiful Sorega Apartment for a week. The hikes we took introduced us to the most incredible views. The hospitality of the people in this area is quite unique, mixed with their precision – everything from their gardens to the window boxes to the road signs to the information they provide is flawless. After the most difficult hike of the week we came over yet one more hill and to find a typical mountain hut ready for a fabulous barbecue lunch with the freshest, most simple ingredients, all prepared and served by the most special people with huge smiles. It was a meal and memory we will never forget.
 
What’s your best feel-good moment since all this started?
Waking up one morning and opening the window to blue skies, sunshine, and views as far as the snow-capped Alps and realizing what an amazing opportunity this “moment” has given us. We have time to reflect on the past and plan for the future. This is an amazing opportunity.

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