In October, GTO‘s Business Development Manager, Sarah Jeffery, was invited to attend the GTOA Meridian Branch’s inaugural AGM followed by a two-night familiarisation trip to Lake Como with The Travel Adventure. The group met up at the Europa Hotel Gatwick, and Chair Andrea Golder was pleased to announce that the new branch already has 39 full members and six associates! The next morning, the group had an early flight to Milan Melpensa with easyJet, and after a coach transfer through the beautiful Italian countryside, the group arrived at their base in Bellagio. The first afternoon was spent exploring the cobbled streets of the small town, often called the ‘Pearl of the Lake’, and sampling local food and drink, with most of the group enjoying pasta or pizza! The next day, Sarah took the 45-minute hydrofoil transfer to the town of Como, where she met with Monica Neroni from the local tourist office, who gave her a guided tour of what Como has to offer including the stunning cathedral, the last Gothic one built in Italy.
Another highlight of the trip was a visit to Villa Melzi d’Eril in Bellagio. Built in 1809 by architect Giocondo Albertolli, it was the summer residence of Duke Francesco Melzi d’Eril, vice-president of the Napoleonic Italian Republic. Enjoying wine and cappuccinos on the balcony, overlooking the lake, with the snow-capped Alps in the distance, it was easy to understand why Lake Como would be a popular destination for groups. Many thanks to Jayne Kerr of the Travel Adventure, and Andrea Golder and Sylvia Saxon of the Meridian Branch for inviting Sarah along. For more on Lake Como, see our feature on page 106.