Italian Lakes: 6 Castles, keys & villas

July 29, 2011

DSC_4519.jpg I had to chaise people out of bed this morning as we had planned to get the 0950 ferry to Lazise, then ferry hop to Garda and Sirmioni getting back in the early evening. I went ahead to get the ferry tickets which turned out to be a mistake. Firstly I should have stayed there to get them out of the apartment, as it was I had to persuade the ferry not to leave while they after a lot of shouting were persuaded to move from a nonchalant stroll to a run. Secondly, I would then have brought the key. That night around 2000 when I asked who had the key, the response was that as they had not seen it, they had assumed I had taken it. After we had phoned up the owner and got readmitted an hour later the keys were front and centre on the table. The delay was partly because the owner drove in with the wrong keys, so someone else had to be phoned. It worked out well as he and I talked about opera, the unification of Italy and the terrible casualties that the Italians suffered agains the Austro-Hungarians in WWI. Most western european history neglects this geography. Either way it will cost me a bottle of wine by way of thank you but the day ended up well.

Back to the day itself. Lazise is one of those picture postcard places. Good friends of ours were engaged there, and then married in Mantova some years later – I was a witness and went out with the children which is when we first saw Lake Garda. The harbour is perfect, the church a delight and the castle a regret – it would be wonderful to get inside it, or at least be able to enter the grounds. An hour and a half later we hopped on the ferry to Garda which to be honest was a bit of a disappointment. The front is pretty but it is very modern with not a lot to see. Better by car so that one can get up to the monastery and other local attractions. The absence of beach resulted in an agreement to leave early so we crossed the lake to Sirmioni. We walked out to a Lido before the roman villa at the end to give people a chance to swim then toured the villa itself which is spectacular in size and the location and view must have been amazing when it was first built in the 1st century.

On the way back hunger pangs set in, so while I paused briefly to pay homage to the house of Maria Callas, we headed into the centre of pizza and more of that ice cream with vinegar before completing the day with a tour of the castle. I now had the camera under control so reshot all those scenes I had messed up on out brief scouting expatiation a few days before. After that it was the fast ferry home and the start of the saga of the key! Tomorrow to wine yards, the ferry to Limone and then RIva for the waterfall and one of the best restaurants in the region.

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