A different kind of Romeria

Nago where we stayed in The Continental Hotel is at the northern most tip of Lake Garda. This end of the lake is dramatic with the Alps as a stunning backdrop. It’s not as well connected to Italy’s transport network as the southern lake towns, but it was June when Italy swelters under an eternal blue dome we weren´t planning to travel far. We spent time by the pool, and a nice touch was being able to bundle our towels into a complimentary beach bag.

Another nice touch was the man in the poolside kiosk regularly came around with slices of watermelon to cool us down. We were offered free lunch on our last day and although we should have been out of our room by 11.00, they let us stay until 6.00pm as we had a late transfer to the airport. The hotel and staff seemed seamlessly to just get everything right!

As a tourist resort, there isn’t much in Nago but it suited us. We wandered into the small historic centre and arrived at the plaza with its drinking fountain and the church of San Vigilio, which dates back to 1194. Once through its arches there are other buildings dating back to the 1400s. An old man sits there every day mending shoes and looks as old as the buildings that surround him. Following the road will take you to the ruins of Castel Penede and some Austrian fortifications (the only real nod to tourism, as it is now a restaurant). On both sides of the narrow cobbled streets, flowers cascade from pots and balconies.

We were fortunate that on Saturday night there was a demonstration by the bomberos in the plaza.

The crowds were out, music was playing and by Sunday the party was in full swing, majorettes paraded, bands played, there was mountains of free food and booze and while it was nothing remotely like a Canarian romerio. We danced to YMCA and La Bamba not very Italian either but it was fun to see how the locals lived and just as their Canarian counter-parts they made us foreigners feel very welcome.

From our hotel, the walk down to the lake at Torbole is by an old Roman road and takes about 25 minutes but seeing how exhausted the youngsters were after walking back we decided to wait for the free hotel shuttle bus for our return. The houses in Torbole are built around the harbour like an amphitheatre. The small town is very picturesque, flanked on one side by Casa Stefanelli with its arcades and on the other the customs house. It is pleasant to stroll among the winding streets with their tall buildings, or relax in waterfront squares around the harbour and indulge in that classic activity of sitting and watching the world go by. And before we realised we were halfway through our holiday…..

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