A visit from home

As Amanda would say in her excitement….woo hoo our daughter Cara is visiting from Australia. We left our Moho Pinot in Edinburgh and flew down to Milan to meet her at Milan Airport after she had a torturous 38 hour trip (my fault) I couldn’t get a flight with a decent connection from Australia/Singapore direct into Malpensa Milan. Bless her she arrived at 6.30am smiling brightly and a few tears of happiness followed. It’s been 8 months since we have been with either Christopher and Cara, and is the biggest penalty we our paying for our self indulgent adventure. So having Cara with us for almost 3 weeks is something we’ve been excited about for some time and we wish Christopher could have joined us for this little holiday………next time Kee!!!

I’d rented a MID SIZED 5 door V.W golf for the 5 days, as we had planned a fairly full itineary and wanted something decent to get around in. WRONG, when they handed me the keys to a SIMILAR car and we walked all the way to where it was parked, we discovered it was a Lancia something or other. They should have just told me the truth at the desk, that I was now the proud owner of a bloody Noddy car……….I am a little vertically challenged at 5ft 8 and even I struggled. Add 2 big bags (no not Amanda and Cara) …luggage and you get the picture. Hills, of which there are a few in this neck of the woods and it’s first gear all the way. No speeding tickets for me on this leg. So we all held our breath to see what I’d booked for accomodation. Bloody ripper, it was exactly what it said it was on the tin….a beautiful little apartment in the beautiful village of Gardone Sopra,  above the shores of Gardone Riveria ,Lake Garda. Beautiful view from our terrace…over looking the church.I think they’d both have shot me had it not been what I’d said, so happy days. The first afternoon was spent catching up, having dinner and drinks and an early night, ready for some touristy stuff….in Noddy!

Next door to our apartment was a Museum set in many acres of sloping terraced gardens Il Vittoriale, home to the now departed Gabrielle D”Annunzio, a very dandy and highly eccentric Italian poet and womaniser who loved to spend squillions of $$$$$$$$$$$$$ , is that a word….of course it is (Amanda used it in scrabble and got away with it so it must be). He obviously was just very self indulgent and although the curators went out of there way to portray him as a mad womaniser….I have serious doubts about his sexuality based on his dress sense and some of his photo’s. Many examples of his clothes were on display and one that had us laughing was a nightgown with a little hole with gold stitching around it for his old boy to poke through. We all thought it looked a wee bit small ! and his shoes looked about size 4 in the old money. Anyway he’d been a bit of a war hero apparently and a bit of a political activist so old mate Mussolini gave him a wide berth and let him get on with it. He had taken the brow off an Italian warship and had it built into the side of the hill and then built a huge concrete stern around it….seriously wealthy chap. The pictures below can’t really capture the scope of his little home. A very nice few hours and FREE because we were guests at the apartment next door.

The surrounding village was perfect, with lovely restaurants and a beautiful little church built a few hundred years ago and probably gentrified with the help of old mate Gabrielle. A lovely serene building with beautiful fresco roof and for a change some lovely music playing in the background. I’m not a religious person (14 years in Belfast cured that) but I always light a candle and say a little message to keep Amanda healthy…just in case someone hears me πŸ˜‰After very busy and long 12 hour days, we really loved returning here in the evening……..oh and the vino was excellent and very well priced.

As the days progressed I realised just how bad my budget planning had been……I forgot the Cara factor haha. No more dinners out 3 or 4 times a week for 2 B.C….that’s short for Before Cara…it was back to proper holiday agenda, Lunch and Dinner out every day haha plus the hotels/cars etc etc. To be fair Cara has been supplying the odd dinner and almost ALL the coffee stops. It was just the first few days shock before I got back into the swing of it again haha……..motorhoming does have its advantages!

Exploring around the lake was a full day driving…lucky I had bloody Noddy the toy car! We took the photo at the start of this post in Riva del Garda and as you can see in the picture it is a cracking spot, which got the desired ooohs and aaaghs from Cara. We drove clockwise around the lake and parked in a very squeezy carpark in Limone. The place was absolutely heaving with wall to wall smokers….oooops I mean tourists. What is it with these mugs? the pictures on the fag packet aren’t graphic enough for you? Cara is an Oncology Nurse in Oz and between her whinging about the emotional and financial costs incurred by these dopes and their habit and me just plain hating it, we had a great old whinge lol.  OK rant over, get on with it.

There are a lot of ferries bouncing back and forward from Limone across the lake, hence the volume of smokers in the town….bugger did it again. I must say, swimming in the clear fresh waters compared to the sea is so refreshing, although the absence of salt doesn’t aid my floating ability. I swim much better than Cara or Amanda yet whilst they happily float on their backs, my legs end up quickly where they should be….below me!

From lovely Limone, we drove around to Malcesine for a cracking lunch of fresh lake fish and a crisp white wine…I only had a glass so I could control and unleash Noddy’s full unbridled power on the way back πŸ˜‰ NOT ! The girls had the rest.

Our intent was to go up the mountain in a cable car to enjoy the view from the top of the mountain across Lake Garda, which my brother had recommended but the queue was too much and then after an hours slow snaking wait to be packed sardine like into a car left me a bit cold so after queueing for 15 minutes, we ditched the idea and went for ice cream instead.

The drive through tunnels and hugging the coastline is definately worth doing, it really is very picturesque and of course the delight of Italian drivers whose driving skills deserve a very special mention….Scarily crap…that’s probably enough on the matter.

Next day it was back into Noddy the wonder mobile and a hairy 2 hour drive in top gear with the pedal pushing through the floor to a top speed of 130k’s an hour, unless there was a hill and then down to 3rd and 100k’s to the watery City of Venice. We drove right into the very centre of the City, past the ever visible presence of heavily armed soldiers and police….bloody terrorists do cause some serious problems nowadays no matter where you go. We sauntered very slowly through St Marks Square amidst hordes of other tourists. It was impossible to capture any decent pics as the throngs of people just made it too difficult. Cara was truly amazed at this City perched precariously its watery landscape. We ventured off the beaten path (which is virtually impossible here). Amanda and I visited here about 20 years ago for a few nights and we don’t remember it being this hectic. Maybe since George got wed here it has just got more popular haha. I don’t know what the water quality is like but it certainly looks clean. Of course Cara got her little shopping fix along the way and it certainly is much less expensive than home.

Another great night back in our Apartment before another very full day in the beautiful City of Verona. Again we found a great car park in the centre of the City, just around the corner from the 2000 year old Colosseum, seemingly the second most preserved in Italy behind Rome. The rest of the City has just spider webbed outwards and across the river. We visited all the top 8 places advised, although we did give Romeo and Juliets fictional balcony a miss……so sad lol! One of the other little top attractions noted for tourists was a 30 minute blast around the City in a choo choo train. Holy God, Amanda made me do it in Portugal once and it was soooo boring I fell asleep and vowed never to be coerced into doing it again….but the lovely Amanda and Cara just couldn’t resist the temptation…….I just went to the public toilet…more fun and at only 70 cents it was cheaper.  To be honest we have visited so many old things…and I don’t mean this sarcastically, I have started to forget what or where they all where except most were beautiful and historically noteworthy but I’m getting on and forgetful. Luckily Amanda keeps a journal.  

So our visit to Italy has been fabulous and having our Daughter Cara with us has made it that little more special…..and expensive ! Sorry we have to rush now as we have a flight to catch.

Love to all xx

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