Frequently Asked Questions:
PLEASE NOTE: These are answers to general questions on the Italy retreat that you may have. The answers do not apply to every retreat so if you have a specific question, please feel free to email me directly.
What airport should I fly into: There are 2 Int'l airports in Milan. Milan Linate & Milan Malpensa. Milan Malpensa is where the shuttle bus picks up for my retreats so I recommend that airport if you can.
What time should I arrive? You need to arrive NO LATER than 3:00pm in Bellagio on the Retreat Start Day in order to check in and get situated before the 1st nights activities. Please try to arrive earlier if possible so you have time to check in and settle into your apartment. I HIGHLY suggest that it is best if you plan to arrive in Italy a day or two earlier so you can get used to the time change and be ready to go on Saturday. Most ladies schedule their flight into Milan to arrive a day ahead of the retreat and then make plans to see the sights around Milan or catch up on sleep. REMEMBER that when you are booking your flight to Milan it is an overnight flight from most places so you have to realize the day you schedule your flight is NOT the day you arrive. So when needing to arrive on Saturday, you need to book the flight to leave on Friday. (+1 will show up on the flight details)
TIP: There is a Sheraton Hotel at the Malpensa Airport. This is the easiest and most convenient hotel if you are staying a night or two ahead of the retreat. It is connected to the airport so you do not need to take a taxi anywhere. This is also the PICK UP LOCATION for the shuttle bus I organize to pick everyone up on Saturday afternoon.
How will I get to Bellagio? There are a few options:
Option One: I will have a private shuttle service that will coordinate up to 20 people to meet outside the Sheraton Malpensa Hotel on the day of the Retreat start date. This is ONLY on the 1st day of the retreat, around 1:00pm. THIS IS INCLUDED IN YOUR REGISTRATION FEE SO I HIGHLY RECOMMEND COORDINATING YOUR TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS TO FIT WITH THIS PICK UP SCHEDULE.
Option Two: Take a public taxi outside of baggage claim at either airport or from your hotel in Milan. You will tell them to take you to the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio on Lake Como and they will know where it is. It is about 1 1/2 hour drive from Milan to Bellagio and the cost will depend on where you are in the city. Pricing is roughly 150 - 180 Euros and you can definitely negotiate with the taxi driver for a better price if you feel confident in doing so. DO NOT GET IN THE TAXI UNTIL YOU HAVE AGREED ON A PRICE! The price is per ride, not per person so try to share the taxi cost with another person attending the retreat.
Option Three: You can reserve a private driver to pick you up and take you to the hotel in Bellagio. This is obviously the most convenient option as you can choose exactly what time and where and it's not anymore expensive then getting a random taxi. One of my closest friends in Bellagio owns his own transfer company (Lake Como Transfers) and I can set that up for you if you want this option. Or if you look online and book through his website make sure you tell him you are going to Laura McCollough's Creative Retreat.
PLEASE NOTE: THE DRIVE TO BELLAGIO IS A GORGEOUS DRIVE ALONG THE SHORES OF LAKE COMO BUT IT IS A VERY HILLY & CURVY ROAD. IF YOU ARE PRONE TO MOTION SICKNESS I STRONGLY ADVISE YOU TAKE DRAMAMINE OR BONIN AT LEAST 30 MINUTES BEFORE YOU LEAVE FOR THE CAR RIDE.
Who will I be rooming with? Each apartment will accommodate 2 ladies with individual beds. If you would like to share with 3 or 4 friends to an apartment there are a few large apartments available and there is a slight discount for each person. Also if you would like to have your own private apartment that is also possible, there is just a price difference and limited availability so please let me know as soon as possible after you sign up. Please let me know who you would like to room with and I will make every effort to make that possible. There will be plenty of time together to get to know everyone and I am confident you will take away not only great memories from this week, but lifelong friends as well!
What can I expect from my time in Italy? I can sum this up in one phrase:
"When in Rome, do as the Romans do…"
Italy is such an iconic place and we all hold special feelings or ideas of what Italy will be like for us. For me it is "Heaven on Earth" as I've said many times before. But with that said, I also live in the real world and want to make sure you all know that nowhere on earth IS perfect. Lake Como is very picturesque, has many beautiful villages, pathways and scenic roads to enjoy. Even though it is one of the most gorgeous lakes in the world it does come with some hills, cobblestone streets, uneven paths, small cars going too fast and weather that is unpredictable. I don't want to put a damper on things, but I do want to make everyone aware of what this idyllic place comes with. We are in a different country and we need to adapt to the way things are over in Italy. We can not go to Italy and expect it to be the United States. The internet is slow (or non existent) they don't have cheeseburgers and fries, they speak a different language and they don't have the same lifestyle that we are use to.
IF FOR HEALTH REASONS YOU WOULD HAVE A DIFFICULT TIME WALKING UP A SOMEWHAT STEEP PATHWAY TO THE APARTMENTS, I WOULD HIGHLY SUGGEST YOU LET ME KNOW SO I CAN PUT YOU IN THE HOTEL AT THE LAKEFRONT. THE HOTEL DU LAC IS WHERE I PUT ANYONE WHO NEEDS TO BE DOWN ON THE WATERFRONT.
What is the weather like on Lake Como? Weather on Lake Como is beautiful just about all year round. The summer temperatures are in the 70's and 80's during the day and to the low 60's in the evenings. The Spring and Fall are in the 60's & 70's during the day and the 50's in the evenings. You will want to bring layers of clothing and comfortable walking shoes. The weather can vary rom day to day with rain possible at any time of the year. Bring along an umbrella and a jacket for these possibilities. There is a self serve laundry as well as a dry cleaners in town and I will acquaint everyone with the necessary stores in town on one of the first days of the retreat.
What should I bring to the Creative Retreat? The list will be added when the teachers provide the list of items for each class. Please check back in our group on FB for details as we get closer to the event.
Why is the retreat non-refundable after a certain point? These events are planned each year to be very special weeklong events and I want everyone to enjoy them to the fullest! There is well over a years worth of time, money and planning that goes into making these events successful. There is a nonrefundable deposit at the time of sign up to make sure those signing up are serious about securing their place. Unfortunately the event venue, hotels, excursions and classes are planned well in advance and do have specific deadlines and/or policies and therefore are not refundable after a certain point. But I understand that things come up and something may happen to prevent you from attending so there is a grace period where you can transfer your registration to another person or you will be refunded the payments you have made, minus the deposit.
Why do I need Trip Insurance? It is highly recommended for each student to purchase trip insurance for the retreat. We never know when unforeseen circumstances can happen. These events are held in far away locations and planned far in advance so as a precaution it is always a good idea to purchase trip insurance. Here are a few online sources for Trip Insurance: