Sunday, July 31, 2016

Castellaro Lagusello - Week 5

The most time consuming and difficult job in planning an 8 week get away was booking accommodations.  We had a strict budget, and you know...there's 6 of us.  I spent hour upon hour scrolling through VRBO, first figuring out exactly what regions would make most sense.  And then trying to match up a rental unit to those areas.  

When I tried to book somewhere in the Lake Garda region it was tricky.  I finally found this place that said it was an apartment that was located in an ancient medieval castle. 
That seemed cool so I booked.  

Well, who knew we'd be staying in the middle of such history!?  
It doesn't look that exciting from inside...

 But it turns out that I rented our apartment from Italian nobility who OWN the massive villa that makes up most of the castle and includes their own private church plus the rental unit and another unit where the property manager lives.  There is also a private courtyard and lake along with the villa.  

As soon as we arrived and started unpacking into our unit it seemed a bit odd how many tourist were walking past us shooting photos of the building we were entering.  We were so privileged to stay in such an old and history filled place.  We were able to have a tour of the villa, the lake and the courtyard because we were renting there.
The property manager was lovely - she only spoke Italian but Dino managed.  She and her family have been caring for this property for 4 generations.  And we we toured the villa we saw a family tree that dated the Italian noleman's family back to 1197.

The small village was charming and lots of fun to stroll through.  

We even found a tiny library,

And a beautiful church.

And now I have a sudden urge for window boxes.

One day we walked the bike trail around the lake.

There were lots of sweet small towns close by including Borghetto which I was dying to see.
It is so gorgeous.

We also got to go to an amazing antique market.  They only have it the 4th Sunday of each month and we happened to be there then!!!  And the town was only a few minutes away.  Woot woot.

We had two beach day trips to Lake Garda.  We followed a stranger's advice on Google to this lovely shingle beach in Sirmione.

And another Google tip took us to this rockier beach at San Vigilio.

It was amazing to see Venice although the crowds and heat could nearly ruin it for you.  When we arrived we were in a line up to park like you see at Disney...just so so many people here during the summer.  However, we enjoyed it anyway.

One night we had a wine tasting at a vineyard.  It was really delicious food and we had a great time.  Here's the thing about travelling with Dino...he is, as many of you know, quite chatty and friendly and also very inquisitive.  Well, these traits are a huge advantage when you travel...we have seen so many things that the regular tours don't bother with.  People respond to him and want to show him more and tell him extra.  It's quite fantastic!!
(Unless you're trying to sleep on a plane)

One perplexing Italian tradition is their schedule.

I'm sorry but HOW am I supposed to grocery shop with these hours???  I don't know if we work too much in North America or if the Italians don't work enough or what the scoop is but I need to have groceries available all afternoon and evening.  
Cause my siestas occur in the morning....

It is bittersweet to end our 6 weeks in Italy in the Cinque Terre...I am thrilled to see it, but so sad to be leaving soon.  
Stay tuned!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Week 4 - Vaiano

We left Rome Saturday the 16th in a rented van

and headed north to a small town just up the valley from Florence.
Such a blissful place!

We've had a lovely week here.  Most of our days have been spent reading and playing cards.  Taking walks...which has provided some great work outs due to the hills.

 Of course there are always some jobs to do as well.

One day we drove north through the mountains to Modena to see the Ferrari museum.

  The boys are both very interested in cars.  
Jake nearly jumped out of the van when this thing passed us on the highway.  

Dino found his namesake car - the Dino - created in 1972 in fact.  Obviously he has to own one.  He has begun his penny jar and should have the hundred thousand collected in no time.

We experienced our first break down of the trip.  8 weeks of travel together - it had to happen
 sometime.  And guess what?  It happened to me.  The drive through the mountains was very pretty...teeny towns miraculously suspended to the sides of the mountains.  Narrow roads with hairpin turns.  A few very large trucks popping around the bend toward us.  A bit too much loud music in the van and me passengering rather than driving caused a very big cry once we arrived on level ground.  A very big cry and a lot of deep breathing.  And a different route on our way back.

To calm my nerves we had an IKEA visit.  

Nothing like some houseware gazing and comfort food to calm your nerves.

We spent a day in Florence which was a very quick trip by train.
Such a pretty city!

We wanted to purchase some house numbers as a souvenir from Italy.  I love the ceramic tiles that dot the cities numbering off each address.

Our hosts told us where to look and we found this sweet old family run store.  Our tile will arrive in Canada about the same time we do!

Vaiano is a small town with few tourists.  Not many people speak English.  We had a great adventure one night in a restaurant where the menu had no translations and the waitress spoke no English.  She wasn't joking when she showed us how big Jake's calzone would be.

I had "grilled fish" which turned out to be shrimp, calamari and branzino.
 Everything was eccellente!!

Tomorrow we will drive further north to a very small village just under Lake Garda.  We will miss our beautiful spot here on the Tuscan hills.  

It has been a wonderful week.