I blame the dog sitter; she called round for coffee while animal sitting in the village and commented that we only had two holidays booked while last year we had five. The next day I was browsing the internet and thought, “she’s right”.
I didn´t want long haul as we are off to India soon, and it is a while since we have been to Italy which we both love, so that is where I started my search.
My first thought was the Amalfi coast it is years since we stayed in Ravello with Alfredo, Alessandro, and Rupert, and seeing programmes on TV, it has changed beyond recognition. The problem with that was four days in Sorrento. Now while it is nice I can´t kick my heels for four whole days. I looked at Tuscany but there seemed an awful lot of wine tasting and as we don´t drink – nuff said. Then I spotted 8 days in Lake Garda, taking in Venice and Verona, none of which we have visited. This was ideal 2 days travelling, 2 days relaxing and 4 days sightseeing.
We were met at Verona airport and taken to our hotel, The Continental in Nago, which is modern, spacious, and surrounded by tranquil gardens. The hotel runs gastronomic tours so naturally, the food was first class.
However, moving on, our first trip was along the romantic Gardesana, one of the most beautiful roads in Europe. The sun was bright as it bounced off the lake, and it was exceedingly hot, 38C. We stopped in some stunning towns, in Garda we visited a traditional Italian market, took a ferry across the lake to Gardone where the little piazza decorated with flowers, slopes down to the lake, and the water’s edge is lined with benches to relax while savouring extravagant ice creams.
Nevertheless, as gorgeous as it all was, the jewel in Lake Garda’s crown for me was Sirmione. It is on a narrow, peninsula, and cars are forbidden, so wandering through the dappled shady streets was enjoyable. Of course, this being Italy, there are churches, varying in age and size and also castles… the medieval Scaliger Castle complete with moat and swans, sits in the centre of town, and the views from every direction are superb.
By mid-afternoon, it was sweltering so we took a speedboat around the island to cool down. I expected it to be expensive but at just €10 each for half an hour, it was well worthwhile. From the boat, we managed to see the villa where Maria Callas lived, obviously one of her better choices in life.
Strolling around the hours slipped away and we headed back to base exhausted having thoroughly enjoyed our long day.