Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Cinque Terre Italy

You have certainly heart about Cinque Terre, Portofino, Camogli and Santa Margherita Ligure, haven't you. 
This is how we organised our tour in this area, including Lucca, Tuscany. 

Last year me and my Serbian travel buddy visited Tuscany.  In one week we were able to do almost all of the region, but we mist Lucca. 
This year we took it as a part of our Ligurian tour. 

Again, like last year, we started our tour from Bologna. Bologna has an international airport and its handy to go many places to its central position. Also the Pisa Airport would have been perfect. 

We booked a B&B just outside the city walls of Lucca. I have been to Lucca several times, and slept in hotels in different location, so finding this one according to other services, this city offers, was my first priority.
Arriving to Lucca in the late afternoon, the first thing we did after leaving our luggages to the B&B,  freshen up and relaxed, was to walk to the main square and seek one of those restaurants, I've eaten so many times; and neither this time the quality didn't leave me unsatisfied.  Although it is a pleasant walk, and the distance not more than 2 km one way, this could turn out fatiqueous to those who like to go to hotel during their sty in Lucca  for a nap, or change clothes, shower or just to deposit shopping bags. Not to mention people with disabilities. 
Next morning we hired bicycles to visit the city properly, and with less fatigue.  Lucca has city walls wide enough to offer a pleasant cycling pad with a major view. This is also the best way to orient in Lucca, since the medieval city leaves little space to recognise the mains spots from narrow streets surrounded by high buildings. Once in Lucca, try the local T-bone steak. For vegans, the local brown bean stew. 

On our third day, and on our way to Liguria, we stopped in an area with old Roman ruins, and in a winery, just near by. I got this idea from a friend who leads groups and just visited it. The winery was really a beautiful oasis  in the middle of a simple town. I didn't find the old roman ruins exciting. But it was useful to see them. 

Our next stop in Liguria was Porto Venere, using the boat services from La Spezia.  There is also a bus connection, that drives along the hills with a great view. 

After all that we drove to Rapallo where we had a hotel booked, in the main promenade, and with a magnificent sea view. Our favourite restaurant appeared to become the one we saw from our balcony, just 100 m from our hotel. 
An other thing that was amazing about this hotel, was the fact that it was just in the front of the pier from where the boats towards Portofino leave. Easier than that, just invent it. 

Although we visited Portofino, San Fruttuoso, and Santa Margherita Ligure before visiting Cinque Terre regional park, I advise my readers to do it differently. Once you follow my suggestion, you'll understand why. Start with Cinque Terre. 
To visit Cinque Terre regional park, I advise my readers to use the train connection. There are several train tickets available: A return ticket from one place or another, or an open ticket, that covers stops to all towns in Cinque Terre during a period of 24 h.  Best way to see and experiment Cinque Terre remains a boat trip. Or perhaps you like hiking, and want to walk with your backpack from one town to another one. That is fantastic too. 
Once arrived to Monterosso by train, we walked to harbour to buy the boat tickets, from Monterosso, to Vernazza, and from there after lunch we continued with the boat towards Riomaggiore, taking the train back to Rapallo. 

At the day 4 we decided to visit Camogli. Once again this magnificent train connection took us there in few minutes. This train rail is a must to experiment it. The rail runs basically next the coast line offering a stunning sea-view. 
Camogli, taking a car from Rapallo, pass by Recco, if not driven above the hills of Santa Margherita Ligure, again with a stunning view. If driving throughout Recco, a must stop is to any bakery that produce focaccia bread. This Recco focaccia is thin, filled with cheese and so delightful. But no worries, if Recco isn't in your itinerary. We ate that very same focaccia in Camogli, in one of the restaurants situated in the beach, highly recommended by locals living in the area. 
In the afternoon, we just walk in the narrow streets of Rapallo, doing some window shopping. 

Day 5 morning was dedicated to Rapallo market. It is a typical Italian market where locals as much as tourist might find peculiar items, good food, clothes, shoes or in my case, a new wallet. 
After the Market we directed to Sestri Levante driving along the coast line, called Via Aurelia, named after the Roman Empire.  We stopped at Chiavari, and visited the local botanic garden. When it was nearly a lunch time, I thought Sestri Levante would turn out the best place to enjoy our meal, as it appeared indeed. 
My travel buddy, just can't say no in a front of plates he likes, and we had another Recco focaccia, followed by some spaghetti with fresh tuna. 

We took some time for a healthy nap in the beach. It's not called siesta, as in Spain, although Italians behave in a similar way, but a lunch break. To respect the feelings of an Italian is better not to compare siesta to lunch break. 

Finally Friday we left, and by driving back to Milan, where I live, we took time to visit the Outlet Village on our way. 

I noticed that:
1. To visit this area properly, 4 days and 5 nights is perfect. 
2. Wanting to visit Genova as well, one more day is necessary. Add another day if you travel with kids in order to visit the Genova Aquarium. 
3. To visit only Cinque Terre, 2 days and 3 nights is perfect. 
4. Lucca, Genova, Rapallo and La Spezia might turn out fairly good locations to visit this region, and the hotels are often less expensive that right in the middle of everything. 
5. La Spezia, Lucca and Genova are larger cities, and offer more. 
6. Although Lucca might not seem to be a great location to visit Cinque Terre, it has several other qualities, such as fairly short distance to Pisa, Florence, Pistoia and La Spezia. And it is only 1,5 h driving from the Bologna airport. 
I don't advice Genova airport due to the bridge that felt down last year. The roads used around Genova are pretty busy and confusing to us living in Italy already. 

"Must try" once in Liguria region are 
olive taggiasce; tiny black olives with stone hard pit
focaccia; typical Ligurian salted pastry with numerous options. 
pesto; typical Ligurian basil sauce to pasta
seafood dishes
local wine
local olive oil
Don't forget ice cream, that is a "must try" all over in Italy

To book your guided tour, minimum 20 persons, please contact

The following photos are from our tour
Sestri Levante

Baia del Silenzio, Sestri Levante

Sestri Levante



Rapallo Market








Rapallo seen from our hotel room


San Fruttuoso

Porto Venere

Porto Venere

Porto Venere

Porto Venere


Roman ruins



Monday, 29 October 2018

Lake Ochrid, Makedonia

To visit Lake Ochrid,

might turn out quite of an adventure, since this pearl in southern Balkan area is nearly impossible to reach by direct flights. At least not from Milan, where I live. 

Ochrid Lake is situated nearly 700 mt. above sea level in south western of Macedonia and 1/3 of the lake belongs to Albania. Ochrid has its own airport, but it looked not well used to me, as only few flights landed in our three days stay in the city. 

I took this trip with my usual company; the Serbian siblings. 
On our way back from lovely beaches in Greece, we headed out to Macedonia. 
The roads from Thessaloniki are fairly good up to Skopje; highway all along towards the capital of Macedonia, after witch there are two roads, both circling around the mountain area. 

photo by author

Once we arrived to Ochrid, round 5 pm, not only we were welcomed by a tropical temperature, but also with warm full summer season touristic atmosphere. It seemed to be quite awkward in the end of September as we heard later on. The weather had been unstable until the day before to our arrival. 

As I mentioned pearls, this area is well known for sweet water pearls, available in several stores in the city. I didn't buy any since I had run out of cash and unfortunately I couldn't withdraw from any of those several cash dispensers. But I certainly will do during my next visit, whenever that might be. Withdrawal using visa and master card works perfectly. My V-pay didn't. 

photo by author

For several tourist around the globe Macedonia is cheap. Just to give you an idea, a fairly rich lunch with some starters and fresh fish soup, beer and water cost €5,50 per person. To visit churches and other monuments, is required a fee that is proximately €1,40. Only wine bought in restaurant is pretty expensive, if anyone wishes to go for a good Macedonian wine. 

Santa Sophia's church; photo by author

Macedonia is known by exporting paprika. The main product made of paprika is Ajvar; so called Balkan Caviar. To make a jar of ajvar is necessary nearly 100 kg of paprika, a lots of hours of work and long cooking period. And of course, a good paprika. 
No. You can't make Ajvar from the paprika you find in your grocery store, unless it is long shaped and fat. 

As I like to travel in places where food is delicious, I have to admit that I had really good meals in Ochrid. Mostly trout from the lake, but also lamb and several vegetables, cheese and wine. One of the things serbs and Macedonians have in common, beside Ajvar is Burak. Burak is a pie with cheese or meat filling and mostly eaten for breakfast, since it could turn pretty heavy for a main meal. Burak can be made at home, if it is possible to find the right main ingredients, and by following tutorials from several websites. 

The colour of the lake is incredibly beautiful; turning from dark blue to emerald green. As in our boat trip to visit the Bay of Bones and the bay of St. Naum. The shore just after Ochrid is filled with several hotels and residences to fill-fill the needs of tourists. As the lake is clean and swimming is permitted, many of these hotels offer sun beds and a place near the beach. 
The Bay of Bones is the oldest village of the lake; the oldest lake in Europe, counts about one million years. This village was probably settled between 1200 and 700 bC and gives to the visitor an excellent idea of how people used to live in those days. All cottages with the lake view. 

Bay of Bones; photo by author

St. Naum used to be a Bulgarian writer and a monk who lived in 9th century, and the monastery was established by St Naum himself. He is also buried in the church. In 16 hundred the Greek school took it over. But this wasn't our main reason to visit St Naum. We headed there to visit the incredible swamp that forms just before the Lake Ochrid. The water temperature is 11°C and its vegetation creates an optical illusion; it looks like its deep only a meter, but its at least 3 meters deep. 
To visit the swamp is necessary to get in one of those rowing boats along the area, rowed by local personal  The tour takes proximately 30 minutes, offering amazing photo shoots and the sound of silence. 

In the third day of our stay, we payed a visit to the fortress that finds itself in the highest point of the hill; the view from there was just stunning. Walking down the hill, we visited the Roman amphitheatre, and three orthodox churches. 

full moon and Macedonian flag; photo by author

In the harbour area is to be seen the statue of St Clement, the father of Balkan cyrillic letters. What I didn't know is that the Balkan cyrillic letters are made to be pronounced as they are written. And has origin from Greek alphabet. This information made me interested to learn them. It could be easy to us finnish, since we also pronounce as we write. 

One of the things a tourist might not know and even think about is to use local beauty services, such as hairdresser or a beautician. I had my feet done and washed and dried my hair by a professional. 
The beauty salon took €15 for bringing my feet back to walking condition and the hairdresser cost me €5. Worth for helping local small businesses. 

To organise a group visit to Ochrid, please do not hesitate to ask info@kairos-travel.eu

Friday, 5 October 2018

Milan in one day? No way

Take time to visit Milan

Far too often I keep on reading comments about people visiting Milan, and not getting the kick they have expected. And then figure out they spent one day and with no guide.
That would be like reading a tourist guide about Milan in just one day. Reading. Not visiting.

photo by Carmen Terrazzino,  duomoventiquattro

Milan is not like Florence, or Rome. Nor it is like Venice. Milan is spread out. One part is seen in the area of Duomo Square and some in the area of the Sforzesco Castle. Then there is the ancient Roman area, mainly churches of paleochristian period. Not to forget the Brera disctrict and the Academy of Art. A bit further a new area called Porta Nuova. Again a bit further away, the Isola. In the other side Navigli, Porta Romana and so on.

photo by Repubblica.it

If you plan to visit Milan and you have just one day, You will see about 10% of what the city actually has to offer. No wonder you go home exhausted by walking 10 km and not been able to see the same monuments as in Rome, Venice or in Florence. It would be like comparing Jerusalem to New York.
Have you ever walked Manhattan back and forth in just one day? 


Milan is mainly a financial city, with ancient roman history unfortunately destroyed by several inquisitions. And not only. Milanese people liked to build new, instead of preserving old buildings. That at least until the end of 19th century. Some of those old monuments are still to be seen; thanks to Luca Beltrami, who believed in preserving. 

photo from italia official website

Milan used to be an important centre during the paleochristian period, that's why Milan still have serveral ancient churhes.
As I am atheist and I don't really care about churches as religious locations, I still thing they are the best buildings to preserve art and architecture. Luckily, most inquisitors were intimitated to destroy churches. Not Maria Teresa from Austria thought. To build a new theather, she had no second thoughts to demolish the church that stood in the way of her plans.

photo il Post

Milanese people love aperitifs. Ever since the 80's, Milan speard out locals that offered so called happy hour with some wine/cocktails and little snacks to accompaign. Nowadays you might even get a total meal with a cost of just one drink. 

Photo by Luxgallery.it

I once read an autobiography of a Milanese artist. Actually he is from Sicily, but moved to Milan to complish his studies and stayed as an artist. With little or no money, he succeeded to survive visiting all the different openings of galleries, museums or other occations and thus feed himself. 
The quantity of art galleries also might turn out as a problem, in witch a local professional could be pretty useful.

photo by turismo.it

Milanese people are also pretty money tight. Not like Ligurian ones. It is quite common that Milanese people do not look rich although they might have Ferrari in their Garage. Quite the opposite is to be found in south of Italy, where even the poorest family save a lifetime, to give the most fabulous wedding to their children. Not to mention that golden rings and chains belong to everyone. That is not in Milan, where even the latest family member of a marchese would wear wooden bijouterie in a formal occation. 

But how would anyone come to know all these things if they stand in a corner of Duomo reading that tourist guide, instead taking a local host, or a professional guide. 
It is a great investment of tourist's money. 

To visit well Milan, contact me as I can be your local host

Kairos Travel is specialised to assist larger groups (min 20 persons) of tourist to enjoy Milan and smaller business groups who wish to visit Milan Rho and fair of Milan Centre, offering  transport, concert and restaurant reservations among hotel accommodation.  Bookings throughout info@kairos-travel.eu

Monday, 9 April 2018

No sunbathing?

I'm one of those ...

who was educated that sunbathing is healthy and necessary to get over the cold Finnish winter with as little flu as possible. Our sea has little if at all iodine and visiting mediterranean sea for two weeks seem to provide necessary amount of iodine to establish our respiratory defences.


But laying in the beach isn't obligatory. Jus being in the beach, perhaps walking early in the morning and in the sunset is more than necessary.
Most European have this idea that where ever there is a sea and a beach, sunbathing is a must. While I have noticed that most overseas travellers avoid beaches and sun.

At my visit to Austria three years ago, I learned that although they have sun, sea and pretty nice climate, they do not go to the beach at all. My cousin explained that her parents never were keen to go to the beach, as if they were afraid of it, and she grew up with the idea that laying in the sun and swimming ain't just how she could spend her days. While I thought: what a waist it is, to live so close to such a beautiful beach and never go there.

Bondi Beach Sydney by australia.com

And that is the difference. You have it there, everyday and it won't disappear. The sun shines nearly 300 days in a year and if you miss those 299 days, there still be that one day. Besides all those stories about sharks in Australian beaches are not completely true. Sometimes there are sharks, but more often there are stingrays and jellyfish. 
What actually happens in Australia, is that in most part of the country water is far too cold to have a swim. Unless in the northern part of the country.
In my visit to Bali, nearly 25 years ago, it was us Europeans to lay on the beach while Australians and Asian population visited the island. 
(Well... So did we, but with less intensity.)
Also at the Caribbean, we europeans lay on the beach while others dive, snorkel, play golf or do several other activities. 
Countries such as Southern Europe, Dubai, Morocco or Tunis, Turkey and The Caribbean live with tourism. We do nothing but lay on the beach, eat and drink. This kind of tourism ends up consuming a lot of food and drinks not produced locally and leave huge amount of rubbish to take care of the locals. Small islands in the mediterranean sea get tons and tons of food and other items from the mainland. 


How many of us would satisfy to live as locals?
The idea of visiting an idyllic island with it's origins has disappeared. The souvenir items are mainly produced in China. And international supermarkets over rule in case I get homesick in 10 days and need the coffee I'm used to drink. Like I couldn't live without my regular diet for 10 days.
When I book a trip, one of the first thing I do, is to check out what kind of culinary culture the country has and prepare myself psychologically. It is easier to face heavy Balkan or Arabian food if I know what I'm going to experiment.
And what ever diet I might follow, I can assure I find those products every where. Like in Iran, where consuming sheep meat is normal. There is always rice and local vegetables if I'm on vegan mood. And for vegetarians there is good news: Eggs are eaten in every country.


Of course the taste is different. But who prohibits me to print one of these receipts from the web and try how does it taste. And only then book my trip. In this way I truly can eat in every country of this planed. 


If I am travelling, there is no such thing as; The sun is too hot, sea water too salty, they don't cook meatballs with smashed potatoes, I can't have salty breakfast, coffee isn't like at home, there is no pork meat, or; there is only pork meat. Or it was mostly rainy, while the weather forecast promised a lots of sun.
What ever uncomfortable weather circumstances I find myself, there is always my hotel room and a book to read. 
Except in rare cases; but we won't talk about them right now, won't we. 

Where ever I am planning to go, I just enjoy my vacation; complains have this magical way to fade away once I allow myself to get used to the new circumstances. 

Book your organised tour for groups with: info@kairos-travel.eu 
And leave all the planning to the travel experts, so that your vacation is enjoyable. 

Monday, 8 January 2018

Lets talk about food, baby

Food.... Food... and Food

I love food. Mostly I like salty food and vegetables. 
So today we talk about eating healthy and lose some weight.

Until I was 10 years old, I liked salami, yoghurt and beetroots the most. I could eat them for breakfast, lunch and for diner. But my mum got this fabulous idea to cut our the meat and add some veggies. Not that I liked it a lot, but with some tasty salad dressing it went down. Those dressings, I learned later on although I still like them, are unfortunately filled with salt, sugar and fat. 

At my high school period I worked as a kitchen help at the local Greek restaurant and learned how to make some delicious Greek dishes, such as moussaka, tzaziki and stifado. But my favourite was the Greek salad. 
And with my latest visit to Santorini, I enjoyed fully of it. 

But today, January the 8th I decided that at least 3 days in a week I apply the vegan food diet and in two days of those only fruits and veggies. 
I think that the best time to apply such diet are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  
In these days, I use Tuesday and Thursday for fruit and veggies only. 

Here are some hints also for you. 

This week my plan is:
As my fruit veggie day breakfast I decide to have a smoothie made by fruit and vegetables only. Such as Mean Green Smoothie, made of water, frozen berries, banana, kale and dates. The receipt is easily to find under the name of the smoothie. 
For a snack, at least two in one day, any kind of fruit will do. 
For lunch I make this salad: cucumber, tomato, paprika, onion, green apple and pickled cucumbers. As much as I feel to eat. The dressing is made by gluten free soy sauce/tamari and if I feel like I add some chopped cilantro. 
For a diner I plan to make this veggie soup with home made vegetable stock, made of:  
1 large onion chopped
2 large carrots chopped
2 large celery stalks, chopped
8 gloves of garlic peeled and smashed
8 spring parsley 
I use only the stock to make veggie soup and I eat the vegetables aside. 
This is just for one soup but if I double the ingredients (perhaps not the garlic) I have broth for twice. Once I have this stock I can add any vegetable I want, such as broccoli and cauliflower or pumpkin and zucchini. No potato, rice or pasta, because it wouldn't be a veggie fruit day anymore. 
Before going to bed, if I'm hungry, I eat one or two bananas. 

In the veggie day, at Wednesday, I have whole grain bread for the breakfast with home made vegan mayo with silken tofu to lower the calorie intake by fat and sliced tomato on the top. I like to add to my mayo some garlic, lemon juice and tomato pasta so that it is tastier. 
Some fruit for snacks during the day and for lunch I have this great salad I can do at home the day before and take it to the office: 
Any kind of small grain, such as whole grain couscous or millet will do. I add some kidney peas, chopped onions, cucumber, tomato, paprika, avocado and I add this dressing: lime and cilantro. 
For my vegan day diner I have this macaroni stew made of whole grain macaroni, cauliflower b├ęchamel (check out the receipt at the web, that suits you the best) and kidney beans out of a can, leaked and rinsed. 
I cook the macaroni, and mix it with kidney beans. Then I taste them with spices I like the most. I add onion, garlic, paprika, chili, pepper and salt. I pour the b├ęchamel on the top of it and bake it with 180°C about 30 minutes. 
If I'm hungry after diner, I eat an apple. 
The other fruit veggie day for lunch I have planned to have steamed cauliflower with some sunflower oil and lemon juice, with a salad as a side dish, using the dressing made of soy sauce and lime. 
For the diner I bake sliced aubergine, zucchini, tomato, pumpkin, onion and garlic in tomato sauce in the oven for 20-30 minutes.  I use origano in this specific dish to give more flavour. 
It's a similar to the french dish called ratatouille
One thing I must remind me over and over again: drink more water. 

For the other four days in a week, I'm free to eat what ever I want, but if I want to lose any weight I try to keep it on vegan. Those two vegetable fruit days in a week might make me lose 1 kilo in each week. It would be a real pitty to spoil the results, by eating potato chips, sushi or hamburger the other days. 
One of the thing that I don't like in many vegan receipts is the quantity of different kind of ingredients, because I am too lazy to count teaspoons and grams of each specific ingredient. My motto is: no more than 10 ingredients and if possible only five to each meal. I truly believe that my stomach and intestine works better, the less it has to digest. This might work differently to you. 

It is really easy to eat vegan. Even for the laziest ones like me. I can cook some whole grain pasta and make a tomato sauce and then add any veggie I just have in my fridge that day. 
But sometimes I want to try new receipts and surprise myself. 
My kids eat meat and there is no way to brainwash them to eat healthier, so I am forced to cook different dishes to them. And that annoys me a lot. I wish they'd eat healthier at this age, since it makes a difference. First, my skin appears still like any one at younger age. Yes, I have wrinkles and some grey hair, but my skin is still as soft as it used to be. This must be throughout the hydration veggies and fruit gives. 

Since I don't get any sponsorsships out of the websites, I don't feel like publicising any of those that have excellent and easy receipts but if you feel like following this diet until you are ready to try the swimsuit, write me in private and I do what I can to help you. 
I downloaded some pictures from the web, so that you may see how simple some of those veggie dishes can be. 

 oven baked sweet potatoes By inhabitat

Vegetable pasta soup by Greatist

Rice and beans by Restaurant Business Magazine

I am not a nutritionist, or a doctor. Just a simple tourist guide with a great love for food in different cultures. 
Feel also free to read my other posts about food and travelling. And if you are not up to try this 3 day in a week vegan diet, use the ideas for side dishes. 

Any time travelling around; group bookings for hotels and locals services throughout 

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Visit Busto Arsizio

This time I want to talk about a town I feel emotionally close to: Busto Arsizio 

Busto Arsizio is a medieval origin town near the airport of Malpensa and just about 35 km from Milan. It is easily to reach by train such as local transport or Malpensa Express from several train stations from Milan and other surrounding cities. 
As the period of plague made several victims, Busto Arsizio was nearly totally burned and very little of this medieval period was left over. 
Busto means breast and Arsizio means burned. 

The old church of San Michele is still as a testimony from the ancient city: The bell tower was built in the 11th century. 
It is the habit of Lombardians to destroy everything old and not functioning and build something new. So you may see barely nothing at all even from the period of renaissance. 
During the French occupation Busto Arsizio and surrounding areas added several words from french language to their dialect. Just to mention one; they don't call lira as the old monetary unit but frank, as the old french monetary unit, although they are talking about the Italian lira. Also the dialect of this city has probably gaelic or German/Austrian back ground: using dots on the top of some vocals is really common. 

Busto Arsizio was until the 80's an important town for manufacturing and assembling of bedlinen and table clothes.
Some people in this city have become incredible wealthy by textile production and it is not unusual to see cars like Ferrari, Jaguar, Lamborghini or Porsche in the street picture.  
Most of these items were in earlier period also coloured in this town, but the environmental regulations forbid using chemical colouring so that most of those factories were closed and workmanshift moved to third world countries, such as China, India and Pakistan, just to name few. 
You may want to visit the local museum of textile, stone drop from the down town surrounded by a beautiful park. 

Arriving to Busto Arsizio, independent of the train station you may arrive, there are plenty of signs to invite you to take a walking tour to admire these Liberty stylsihed Villa's. As I walk a lot, I can't but admire all those beautiful buildings still visible in the city. 
I took this tour together with my friend Anne who visited me from the Netherlands on purpose to anticipate what you may see while visiting Busto Arsizio. 

After leaving either Busto Arsizio Central train station or the North Train Station, the itinerary leads you for a 5 km walk lasting nearly 3 hours if you like to shoot photos as I do. This tour will surprise you with the quantity of true pearls of architecture.  
And while walking around, there is plenty to pit stop for an ice cream, lunch or a coffee, aperitif and diner. As I am often here, I have gotten the priviledge to try many of those, and suggest you to do so. Busto Arsizio offers only one "local food" restaurant and it is truly interesting place to visit. Besides of the local food also the menu is written in bilingual; in Italian and in local dialect

Although Italy helps hundreds of thousands of immigrants from the mediterranean sea, Busto Arsizio still has very little of them: This city has a strong culture of right wing political party. You might have heard of Lega Lombarda, and Umberto Bossi during the period of Silvio Berlusconi. Umberto Bossi comes from a town near by and Busto Arsizio has probably the largest amount of Lega Lombardia supporters in this area. Lega Lombarda or Lega Nord has a political view that do not allow "wild immigration" and it is difficult to get a working permit, or house to rent at Busto Arsizio. In the 60's even those from Sicily were seen as immigrants and not wanted. You may find several southern men outside of local bars as it belongs to their culture to get out of the house, while wife cleans or cooks supper.  

When I first visited Busto Arsizio, I thought about this city as a dormitory for the people who work in Milan or at the Malpensa Airport due to the leak of restaurants, parks for children to play or open air sport fields. Only few restaurants and mainly pizzerias. Today the Chinese population has made their way with "all-you-can-eat" sushi restaurants, next to Moroccan shwarma sandwiches. But also Italians have decided to invest in this small 100.000 inhabitants town. More and more medium price restaurants such as Piadeneria; a typical Emiglia Romanian flat bread, or Italian style gourmet hamburger restaurants have opened their doors. There is nowadays plenty to choose from.

Ever since the period of the economical regression of 2008, Busto Arsizio saw many of the shops closing and no new entry was willing to get in. Nowadays new shops have opened their doors and many people from near by towns, such as Olgiate Olona, Castellanza and Gallarate find their way for shopping at Busto Arsizio. It is enjoyable to walk in the city, have an ice cream and sit down for an aperitif with a good company. 
It might be surpricing to find out several small breweries in this area. And due to it, new beer houses have found their way in this city. If you love beer, you may want to try some of the local ones. 
This area of Lombardia has very little of wine production; some of it in the hills of Varese, just recently restarted, and merely from the hills of Pavia, in the border of Emiglia Romagna and in the Garda Lake due to it's mite temperature. 

Busto Arsizio appears to be a safe city to live in, although there is always some trouble with minor criminality. Merely people are left in peace and only time to time some fighting takes place out of pubs and bars where alcohol is served. Italians are not heavy drinkers as we Scandinavians are, and they are not used to get really drunk. So when they do, they get totally out of control. Usually this happens among young people. And these fights are about a girl, who gave a look to another boy. 
Shakespeare had it right about the Italian temperament. 

If you decide to stay at Busto Arsizio, what is exactly that you may visit while staying here? Besides this town, nearby cities offer plenty to visit:
A day trip to Milan and Lake Maggiore, or Varese  and Saronno are interesting towns to visit, and just about 10-30 minutes by train. Also Novara forms an interesting town to visit due to it's history from the medieval and renessaince period and easy to reach by local train. As Lake como might seem far away, I assure that with local pubblic transport it is possible to visit it within one day. 
In case you hire a car, near Gallarate at Arsago Seprio are still ancient roman cavings and one of the best restaurants in the area, not to mention Olgiate Olona's 1 star Michelin restaurant. 
For kids during the summer time, Busto Arsizio offers out door swimming pools, recreation areas and play grounds in the public parks. Unfortunately dogs are still left a side, with one only separate dog park far from city centre. But dogs are treated pretty well: nearly every bar and restaurant allow dogs, and some shops too. 

In March Busto Arsizio holds a film festival called BAFF, with some interesting guest;  mainly famous Italian actors. 
Busto Arsizio is also well know by it's fencing club, and it's swimming pool. Each year both clubs hold international tournaments.  Also the local volleyball team plays in group A as the Italian female volleyball league. 
One of the most famous Italian violinist, Uto Ughi, is from Busto Arsizio and "a local guy" Gianluca Genoni, born in Galliate Novara, has won several competitions of diving without a mask, last one in 2012 down to 160 meters. 
The local football team Pro Patria is not equally good,as the sports teams mentioned above, but they have many local supporters.  

In the summer time Busto Arsizio among neighbouring towns offer night shopping. From Wednesday until Friday different cities keep their shops open until 11 pm with street music or fashion shows. 
Also many festivals take places in the summer season and Sagra's; local churches that organise happenings with food court, play ground, orchestra's and games. 

Now there is no reason why not visit or stay at Busto Arsizio. It is a valid option to some hotels in Milan far from Down Town. 
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Photos from the Liberty walking tour. Please ask permission to copy and and paste elsewhere

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