Lonely Planet Writer

Lonely Planet Magazine contest winner shares highlights of a trip to Italy

Winner Brian and his partner Thania © Brian Maxey

In fall 2017, Lonely Planet Magazine ran a contest offering one lucky entrant a trip to Italy! Here winner Brian Maxey shares some highlights from his journey.

The colourful streets of Burano © Brian Maxey The colourful streets of Burano © Brian Maxey


We visited many spots along the coastline of Burano that were very quiet and peaceful, allowing us to take in the surrounding views. The small canals and colorful buildings were unique aspects of the island, compared to the stone buildings and larger canals found throughout Venice.

During our visit to Burano our objective was to explore as much of the island as possible. I found it interesting to navigate through local lace workshops. The most fascinating site was the famous leaning bell tower. We looked at it several times in an attempt to determine whether or not it was actually leaning – apparently it is, but we weren't sure!

Lovely Lake Como © Brian Maxey Lovely Lake Como © Brian Maxey

Lake Como

Lake Como has been of interest to me for many years due to the combination of the lake and the surrounding mountains. I loved the small towns built on the slopes overlooking the lake. We arrived by train to a small town named Varenna; while there we visited a local restaurant on the lake to have lunch and discovered the manager was a fellow American. We then took the ferry across the lake to visit Bellagio. While in Bellagio we visited a few shops and sat by the lake, taking in the wonderful views.

Parco Sempione, Milan © Brian Maxey A breath of fresh air in Milan © Brian Maxey

Parco Sempione, Milan

We stumbled upon this city park in Milan after visiting Sforza Castle. Covering approximately 95 acres, one can imagine the immensity of the area we were surrounded by in Parco Sempione. After spending the amount of time we had in Rome, Venice and Milan, surrounded by the city landscape and buildings, we found it refreshing to walk amongst the nature of the park.

Stombolicchio, as seen from a boat © Brian Maxey Strombolicchio, as seen from a boat © Brian Maxey

Strombolicchio, Aeolian islands

Although not inhabited by humans, we found this small island just off the coast of Stromboli to be very interesting due to the lighthouse sitting on its peak. To this day the lighthouse, completed in 1926, is in use and managed by the Italian navy. Although we circled the entire island by boat and took several photographs, we found the cloud just to the right of the island in this picture to be particularly eye-catching. We were leaving Stromboli via boat and taken by several small islands, but the beauty of Strombolicchio caught our attention.

Dreamy hotel views in Taormina © Brian Maxey Dreamy hotel views in Taormina © Brian Maxey

Taormina, Sicily

Whether gazing out at sea or admiring the surrounding mountain towns, we had magnificent views from our hotel near Taormina. We could take in these views from our room or from the infinity pool. In Taormina we took a Sicilian cooking class. Of all the activities we participated in during our trip, this was the most enjoyable activity, providing an opportunity to meet people from other parts of the world.

Explore more about Italy on the blog:

- Just back from: Sicily's Aeolian Islands
- Just back from: Rome, Italy