This past May we would have been on yet another driving vacation in Italy, which we began doing back in 2004, with our primary focus on the city of Bellagio on the eastern shores of Lago di Como.
For many years, a 1954 painting of Bellagio, by American painter Howard Behrens, has adorned the living room walls of whichever house we were inhabiting at the time.
I promised my wife we would visit this beautiful part of Italy, and in 2004 we managed to capture some memorable photos of our first visit.
This collage (above) enshrines the essence of Bellagio, and how much we have enjoyed our visits. This year, we planned a short drive from Malpensa airport to spend a few days in Cernobbio, on Lake Como, and then head for Cremona (below).
The plan was to base ourselves in the delightful 4-Star Hotel Impero for five days; and take a daily drive, radiating out to various towns and villages such as Piacenza, Modena, Sant'Agata Bolognese, and others.
We have tried to get to Italy at least once a year since 2004, and we take it in short chunks (usually 5-7 days), but despite extensive touring and our best exploratory efforts, there remains so much more of Italy that, now sadly, we will not see - thanks to COVID19.
The existence of Coronavirus has made us decide to stop any further global travel, and basically, enjoy our photos and memories. By the time the coronavirus is manageable, or there's a vaccine, we will be that much older and right in the line of fire - so it's just not worth it.
Still, we are luckier than many lovers of Italy who have maybe only been able to enjoy one or two visits there - whilst we have been travelling all over the beautiful country for the last 16 years. Outside of Australia, it's the only other place in the world where I feel completely at home, the minute after touchdown.