Northern Italy uncovered: what to expect if you decide to go on holiday with your Girlfriend’s family. #nomadicexistence

Ok, so before we jump the gun to Montepulciano, there are a few things we have to get out of the way. But before we even get into that I’m going to give you a brief breakdown of our motley crew.

  • The patriarch Danilo is the head of the family and generally sits at the head of the table at most family gatherings. His family the Reviglio’s are originally from Italy, but now call Namibia their home.
  • The matriarch, Desire is the actual head of the family and chooses to not sit at the head of the table at most family gatherings. Her family is from South Africa, but are of Scottish descent.
  • The eldest sibling Danilo Jr is the next in line to sit at the head of the table and will do so when he is good and ready. He is an aspiring designer and a gifted sketch artist, but enjoys spending his time listening to the hounds of hell while shredding on one of his many priceless guitars.
  • Michelle, Danilo Jr’s girlfriend has lived most of her life in South Africa and Namibia and will one day become a patron of the ministry of justice one day. It was her first time abroad and was evident on her face throughout the duration of her time there.
  • Dominique, the youngest sibling and sister of Danilo Jr is the baby of the family and is just not into sitting at any table especially at family gatherings. Her passion lies in travelling and living a nomadic existence as she ponders the how to everyone’s why?
  • Then there’s me, your guide and aspiring adventurer and patron of the nomadic lifestyle. But if you would like to know more just read the bio on the right hand side of this blog under the name Slippery Lyzard.

Later on we will be joined by two more family members from the UK, but till then our journey must go on.

What to expect if you decide to go on holiday with your Girlfriend’s family.

It had officially begun at Malpensa airport just 50 km north – west of Milan. I refer to it as the beginning for it was ultimately when our adventure began. For shortly after landing we had already run into our first snag, how were we going to get to Nembro – just outside of Bergamo? A journey that would ultimately see us adding another 102 Km to our 16 hour flight. “Let’s commute, it’ll be fun”, Dom insisted, to which I replied “why the hell not, it shouldn’t take too long”. It did, and after an hour of wild turns and stops we eventually made it to the airport nearest to where we needed to be, Orio al Serio. Which, to be honest was close but was not close enough. Luckily though, we were able to coax the bus driver into dropping us off in Bergamo’s city centre, due to Dom’s limited grasp of the Italian language.

However, as proficient as we were at tackling the EU public transport system our next step would see us playing the waiting game until her parents came to pick us up. But before their arrival I had decided that the MacDonald’s opposite the station would be the most agreeable landmark. I was wrong again and learned an important lesson that day, never use a busy intersection with no visible parking as a pick up spot. This though didn’t seem to faze Desi – who stepped out of the CO emissions like a superhero – as she grabbed us by the arms and whisked us off to Danilo, who was literally revving to go. It did seem as though it had been quite some time since he had had the pleasure of driving in Italy and was, to put it lightly, worse for wear. As he grumbled about the sheer lack of etiquette most Italian drivers have for everyone on the roads, which only served to get us stuck in a side street. In hindsight though, I do believe that our bad interpretations of the street signs could’ve been a part of the problem. As we soon found ourselves being honked at profusely as we entered into what is known as a reserved roadway for residents only. But this didn’t deter Danilo Sr as he manoeuvred the hulking mass of the VW van – he had rented – to rival those of air force fighter pilots.

Finally we made it to Nembro, a mere 10 km or so from Bergamo. It felt more like 50 as we drove through the dreary and wooded alpine landscape but at least we were almost home. And upon observation I have to admit Nembro felt more like a retreat reserved for people who either abhorred the city life or were just too old to catch the train into the city every day.

Something we could relate to as we hit ground zero thinking we had escaped the worst of it, only to be filled in on the horrors of long distance travelling. We knew then we were not alone. As everyone present confessed to being a victim of inefficient airport baggage handling. And collectively felt that they were not going to make the desired acquaintance with their baggage for at least awhile still. But in retrospect it had all become a part of the adventure. With the mood slowly turning up we headed out for a late night evening stroll through the centre of old Nembro followed by a well deserved cappuccino in a classic Italian coffee bar.

Shortly after, and now feeling the tiredness take hold we made a beeline for home as the winter chill started to bite at our heels.  Once there the settling could begin in earnest as I began to survey our lodgings. It was once the home of the family’s now deceased Nonna (Gran) and was to say the least fair, comfortable and strikingly traditional with a hint of the family’s African ties. The curios in particular were the kind you find on sale all throughout Africa’s flea markets. But as comfortable as it was, and as you well know, it would soon become a warzone. As four adult kids and two adults tried in vain  not get on each other’s nerves, and to jump in and out of the single bathroom  in time for the next adventure. Further peculiar instances worth mentioning were a gas leak, trying to understand the trick to EU recycling and getting used to the constant pealing of church bells all throughout the day and evening.

But all in all our adventure was just beginning for in two days we would make the ride to Tuscany, onward to our first destination Montepulciano.


To recap:

  •  Remember to find out at which airport you will be landing, and change your flight plans accordingly so that you (hopefully) end up at the closest point to your destination.
  •  If not, find out beforehand what your commuting options are and choose the one that suits your budget and/ or tastes accordingly.
  •  Learn the road signs beforehand, or take a guide book that fills you in on the ins and outs, if you decide to rent a car, it will save you a lot of trouble and you won’t have to rely on the GPS.

We will though be aiding you in these instances with information related to such travel hindrances, as listed below. Watch this space.

  • Commuting options (pending)
  • Road sign meanings (pending)
  • Nembro (pending)
  • Lost Luggage advice (pending)
  • All living under one roof advice. (pending)

Next Post:

Montepulciano; where the wine flows freely and the morning mist is broken with a medieval smile.

This part of the trip took place from the 14 – 16 December 2013

By Slippery Joe Lyzard © (Writer for Nomadic Existence)

Photography: Nomadic Bug © 

Nomadic Existence 2015 ©

 Explore. Conserve. Discover.


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