Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Monte Isola, part 2, & Verona

Okay, the last section of my Italian vacation. The next day my friend and I decided after breakfast to wander around the island for a couple of hours before heading to Silviano for lunch at his friend's house.

We continued on from Sensole to Peschiera Maraglio and onward to the small village of Carzano, where we had a Spritz at the local watering hole.

(Who’s a perfect 10? :P )

From there we went up a short trail through Carzano to another village (Novale) with a view over the lake.

At this point we realized we only had about 30 minutes to get to Siviano for lunch so we started a pretty brisk walk across the island.

When we got the village we met Francesco on the road chatting with a friend. We then went to his place where his sister had put on a real spread of food.

After being joined by other family members we started with bread, plates of sliced meats, and some deviled eggs (that I really liked), along with red and white wine from the family vineyard. Then Francesco's sister brought out a big tray of homemade lasagna!

Now were talking. Real Italian home cooking!

It was great. I had myself two helpings of lasagna and was pretty stuffed afterwards but left a bit of space for dessert. Bad thing was, no one had informed me how many courses we were having for lunch. There was still more food to come.

Yep, I had just finished the second course -- of seven!

Here's what we wound up eating:

• Sliced meat and bread (and deviled eggs)
• homemade lasagna
• a local lake fish (can't remember the name, possibly trout)
• veal & potatoes
• a variety of local cheeses
• a selection of fruit
• cake with a meringue coating (with a dessert wine)

Followed with some high quality tequila. (Yes I know tequila isn't Italian but when we were talking the night before the conversation turned to high quality spirits and Francesco mentioned he had a great tequila we should try at lunch).

The lunch was fantastic, and took over three hours. Good thing too because if I tried to eat seven courses quickly I would've exploded.

So after thanking everybody we were back off to the hotel to get our luggage and catch the ferry to the train station to go to Verona. Unfortunately by the time we got there the next train wasn't for over an hour. A nice thing at the Sulzano train station was that there were taps nearby that had water from a local spring (including sparkling water!). So I occupied my time watching various locals come along with empty bottles to fill with spring water.

so we waited . . .

and then we ran into Francesco again! He was returning to his apartment in Milan and it was nice that he could join us on part of the train journey.

I slept most of the train journey. By this point I wasn't feeling all that well. It wasn't from overeating, looking back I think it was dehydration. A lot of brisk walking combined with the fact that pretty much everything I drank that day was alcoholic (spritz, wine, tequila) had done a number on me. Good thing I had an opportunity to rest during the train journey. By the time we got to Verona I was feeling better but still not a hundred percent.

Because of the late lunch and long train wait in Sulzano we did not get to Verona until after 7pm. It was a bit unfortunate because I was catching a train at 6:45am the next day but since the sun wasn't setting until after 9 it still left us with some time to see the sights.

Verona is another city that managed to keep much of its old architecture so the old city is really cool. It's even an UNESCO world heritage site. Check out the pictures:

There is also an old Roman Coliseum, the Verona Arena, that is used now for performances of operas and plays. Anyone I spoke to and any website I looked at about Verona recommended seeing an event there. Unfortunately the events were not starting until the week after we were there. Maybe one day I will get a chance to see it.

We continued to wander around and by nightfall found the Castelvecchio Bridge

The evening ended appropriately with pizza and drinks at an outdoor pizzeria in the old city.

This was my first trip to Italy and I must say I was blown away by the places I've seen. Seriously, these places were like out of old Hollywood movies of Italy. You don't actually think Italy will be like that but in some places it really is: Bergamo, Monte Isola, Verona, all of them outstanding. I was impressed enough that I've already booked my next trip – Rome. It won't be for a couple of months but I'm looking forward to it.

Kudos to my friend Knut for suggesting the trip and making many of the arrangements, and to Francesco for all of his hospitality.

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