Sunday, October 24, 2010


I have postponed blogging about the last part of our trip to Italy because.....
-I hate Italy and never want to think about it again
-we didn't do anything interesting
-the food and wine were horrible and not even worth mentioning
-if I blog about it then I don't get to think about it any more and then it will be over.

You probably guessed it...I just don't want it to be over. That lingering Italian "gioia di vita" will be gone once I put this chapter into the blog sphere. I won't stop every day at five and think about an outdoor cafe, a glass of Italian wine and a little snack of olives or chips and have to rest my weary feet until it is time to walk around and find someplace to eat dinner. I will have to swallow the harsh reality that I'm not in Italy and there is no outdoor cafe and my feet are only tired if it was my running day and the only dinner I will be eating is the one I cook. Reality is a harsh pill to swallow when you come home from a wonderful trip.

So here it is...the final chapter of Italy.

For the most part our entire trip was absolutely perfect except for that one day.....
Have you ever had one of those days when you had an idea of how it would all go and you set off in hot pursuit of that day and hit road block after road block? We had a day similar to that. I know...hard to believe but it happened, much to Rick's dismay.

Plan- drive around Lake Garda from the west side, heading north and then as we head south on the east side of the lake we will taste some fantastic valpolicella wines and then we only have a short distance to drive back to our hotel after tasting delicious wines. It all looked good on paper, do all the driving before we do all the drinking, right? After all, we are responsible adults.

We started driving, after the night of much wine, grappa and limoncello and I had the pleasure of riding in the backseat. I am prone to car sickness on winding hilly roads in the best of conditions, and believe me, these were not the best of conditions. Off we go! The scenery was lovely in spite of the dreary skies.

We drove and drove and drove. The road curved and twisted and climbed. TJ did a great job keeping us between the lines with his white knuckle steering. There were many tunnels and scenic vistas to enjoy. TJ saw very few of them. This is what he saw....

After many near misses with oncoming trucks in one lane tunnels we made it to the northern tip of Lake Garda, safely. Ahhhh, lunch time!!! And not a moment too soon if you ask me!

After lunch it was time for a little wine tasting. First thing, look for the tourist information center and get a map of the wineries in the area. Great idea! We found the information center.... it closed at 1pm, we arrived at 2:30! Oops! We decided to go it on our own, there are signs posted, just follow the signs. Easier said than done. We tried to use the GPS to find wineries but either we can't follow directions or the GPS does not know wineries. We found wineries that were open but did not offer tastings, we found wineries that were closed, but we found no wineries that were both open and offered tastings. We were very tired and getting thirsty and it was getting close to 5 and it was time to find an outdoor cafe and have a glass of wine, so we headed back to our hotel, unfulfilled.

The next day we had it all figured out...we found this

The day proved to be much more successful! We found wineries that were both open and offered tastings. A good time was had by all!

We found ancient olive trees.

We found a wine museum.

It was harvest time!

Patty and I scoped out the town on our bikes that afternoon and found a perfect place for our final dinner together.

I loved biking in Europe....

Seafood platter, Italian style!

We had to have one final gelato to seal the evening. Hey, we rode our bikes....I am sure we burned off those calories!

TJ and I spent our final day in Italy with each Milan....and a few other people.

The duomo in Milan and thousands of people.

After our relatively peaceful and crowd free, Italian vacation, we were met with millions of people in Milan. This was not the high point of our trip. It only hit me me midway through the day that it was Saturday and must be the day EVERYONE goes to Milan. We did manage to navigate our way to the hotel and the rental car return at the train station with the expert direction from the GPS! We ditched the car and hopped on the metro and saw the city. Not an easy task. Did I mention that everyone else in Italy went to Milan that day too? We managed to see The Last Supper , the duomo and the shopping streets. I have no idea who buys the stuff in those stores...I saw many exclusive shops with no customers in them, only sales people with pursed lips staring blankly out at the common folk, however there were many people walking around conspicuously carrying bags bearing the names of some of those shops. I did a lot of window shopping, along with a few other people.

Louis Vuitton and Prada....and

directly across the walkway.....McDonald's! Finally, something I can afford.

We managed a lovely dinner with the expert direction of the concierge at a nice hotel. Milan was huge and crowded but after reading some of the travel books upon my return home(I guess it might have helped to read those books before the trip!), I find that my initial impressions are commonly felt. Don't waste too much of your time here....move on!

And as they say....the rest is history. We wiped the dust of Milan off our feet as we boarded the plane, but the rest of Italy will remain in our memories until we meet again....Ciao!

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