Bathing in Italian lakes

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A summer weather, a scenery looking like a watercolour, a mesmerising water with a blue-saphir colour… you get it, I didn’t resist to dive in the Lake Como!

After a stroll on the “Lungolabo”, we stopped in the shadow of a pine tree of the Parco Teresio Olivelli in the Tremezzo village.

I put my bathing suit and I went strait to the stairs whose the steps touch the water. Step by step, I went down delicately and touched the bottom of the lake. The water was transparent. Usually, I enjoy swimming the crawl. But this time, I enjoyed watching the beauty of the landscape by swimming slowly the breastroke. Around me, the panorama was beautiful. The mountains seemed diving with me in the water. In the middle of the water, I also enjoyed watching all the villas around.

In spite of the romanticism of this place, I was not alone. Around me, young Italians were also swimming. Probably, a new romantic story will start after one of this afternoon between friends, inspired of the first kiss between Anakin and the princess Amidala in the Balbianello villa, just in front of the park. This story will be added to the numerous stories written by the artists making the Lake Como, one of the most romantic natural theatres.

A swan arrived reminding me the reality. It was time to go out of the water. I went up the stairs to enjoy a shower.

Canzo – 7 days – 402 metres above sea level

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We arrived in advance in the little city of Canzo. We waited to meet the owner of the rent flat. During this spare time, we bought some groceries. When we left the supermarket, a big storm arrived and we heard the sirens of the city. We found a shelter under a lean-to next to the store. We met the owner there who gave us the keys of the rent flat. 

The rain stopped at the end of the afternoon. We took our sidecars and left the city to meet Alice and Bernard, Emilie’s parents at the airport of Milano-Malpensa. Due to the bad weather, their flight had a 45-min delay. But never mind, it was such a pleasure to see them (even if this meeting meant we were closer to the end of the trip) ! Once back to Canzo at around 11pm, we finished our day with some food to share and Moretti beers. 

After a good lie-on, we sat in the 7-seat car rent at the airport. We went towards the Como Lake and its treasures, between the Alps mountains, surrounded by colorful houses and beautiful villas. The wide blue-saphir colour lake was mesmerizing by its beauty. This beautiful natural place attracted dukes ans kings who built beautiful monuments. 

We strolled in the streets of the little village of Bellagio, located between the three arms of the lake. With some luck, we found a free space to park next to the historical center and we started to visit the Pescallo area and its little beach. The sun was reflecting in the water with an intense blue and shined on the little waves of the lake, shaped by the wind. 

In the ancient borough of fishermen, we saw the first ship Riva, this mythical wooden ship, revealing the Italian luxury. 

We continued our walk in the pedestrian streets of this touristic city. Colorful houses, stairs made of stones, many narrow paved streets: Bellagio was like a scenery of a movie. We arrived in front of the Basilica San Giacomo before to reach the top of Spartivento. On the Piazza Mazzini, the ferries were going back and forth from a side to the opposite one, a buzzing life on this ancient market square.

After finding the ingredients for making sandwiches in a delicatessen , we enjoyed them along the lake. We continued strolling in the streets of San Giovanni. On the little square of this port, Italian guys were playing cards. At 4pm, the bells of the church were ringing in the little streets. Bicycles were hung on the front of a house, each one with its style: the bicycle of the fireman, the florist or the carpenter. 

At the end of the afternoon, we went to the Rezzago village. During the day, curious about a sign made of cardboard and looking like an old advert, we decided to go to this village to take part in the local beer festival. We parked at the entry of the village and walked in the streets up to the church. It seemed very quiet and there was no hint about the biggest event of the year for this village. Finally, a man walking his dog showed us the location of this festival. At the entry, there was an old Fiat 500 nicely refurbished. Once inside, there was another inhabitant who gave us advice. With a beer of 1 litre per couple served with fries, we sat under the main marquee. We had a nice time at this local event, without any tourists. In the background, the local celebrity was playing classic Italian music. 

The following day, we woke up earlier to go to the West of the lake. At 10am, we left the house to go towards the hills and reach the lake next to the city of Como. We went along the riverside. The traffic was heavy during this Summer period. We were patient. 

We reached finally the village of Lenno, the place of departure of our walk. After a few manoeuvres in the little streets, we managed to find a space to park. We started to walk along a steam in the streets. We reached the main square overlooking the bay. On the water, the oars were going back and forth in front of the seawall. We continued up to the village of Tremezzo, went up to the heights, used the “GreenWay” to reach the park of Teresio Olivelli, where we had a picnic in the shadow of a big pine. On the way, we noticed many beautiful villas with garages for boats and the stairs going down to the lake. In Tremezzo, the “Grand Hotel” and the great “Villa Carlotta” were beautiful to take in photos. Back to Lenno, we enjoyed a homemade ice cream to celebrate the end of the walk. 

Milano was on the schedule of the following day. We walked up early to take the train of 9:30am at the train station of Asso-Canzo to reach the one of Milano North Cadorna in one hour and half. 

We started by crossing the medieval castle of Sforza from the name of this family who reigned on the city during the Middle-Age, after the Visconti family who built it. In spite of the outside architecture being massive and austere due to its defensive role, it was very sophisticated inside. The courtyards were decorated with little columns and walls with beautiful patterns. 

Then we went to the heart of Milano and loved the colourful buildings, the wrought-iron balconies and the vintage tramways. We arrived at the Scala square, the famous opera surprising us by its discrete architecture in spite of the reputation of this place, compared to the ones in Paris and London. 

Then, we went towards the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the true place of the Milanese fashion life. This shopping mall is made of two arcades with beautiful glass roof and the most famous fashion shops. The ground was covered of colourful mosaic with in its center a roaring bull, helping the extravagant wishes coming true. 

For lunch, we discovered the panzerotti, a local speciality similar to small calzone, before to discover the wide square where there is the majestic White Cathedral with a beautiful fine architecturale.

We finished our walk in the city in the area of Naviglio Grande and its beautiful canals with nice bridges made of stones. In one of the bars along the river, we shared an “aperitivo”, the true Milanese tradition. 

It was with a full belly that we headed to the train station to take the 9:08pm train going to Canzo.

Because the Come lake did not finish to deliver all its secrets, the next day we went to the East bank of the lake. After the town of Lecco, a numerous tunnels were hiding the view. But once passed Mandello, we took the Via Roma following the riverside. We parked at the Fiumelatte village with its narrow streets and the beautiful houses on the water.

We started the visit of Varenna by its main square, the Piazza San Giorgio before to stroll in the little streets along the lake, up to the pier. Again, we loved the colourful villas with the peaceful and romantic atmosphere, in spite of the touristic season. A storm was coming, so we went back to the car under the first drops.

The evening was special as we celebrated Emilie’s birthday in one of the restaurants of the city.

Bergamo was the destination of the next day. The specificity of this city is to be separated in two parts: the modern city, the Città Bassa, located at the bottom of the medieval part, the Città Alta surrounded by a fortified wall. Perched on a rock, the citadel open its doors after many stairs in the narrow and steep streets. In the heart of the fortress, the Piazza Vecchia was surrounded by impressive palaces including the Palazzo Nuovo, which is today the library and the ancient building of Palazzo della Regione. Under the arcades of this building, there was an ancient solar calendar. We enjoyed pizzas there that we bought for our lunch. On the right side, the Torre Civica, also named “Campanone”, had the biggest bell of Lombardy which was ringing each evening to let know the inhabitants the closure of the fortress gates.

Behind The Piazza Vecchia, the beautiful front of the Colleoni chapel was amazing before we entered in the basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, full of ornementations and old tapestries. Our walk in the small paved streets brought us though different markets (shoes, fish, hay, etc) and then to the Roca fortress. This was just before the comeback of the rain that we went down to the historical center for returning to the car.

Our last day in Canzo, was dedicated to the side-car services, before to take the road to France. We checked out and brought back Alice and Bernard to the Milano airport. Once we were sure they crossed the border without any issue, we took our sidecars for driving to the South, we bypassed Novare and reached the nice Asti area. Near Pianchiosso, at the end of a small track along the river, we went between the trees to reach a clearing. There, we setup the tent for the last night before entering in France.


OUR FAVOURITE PLACES 
Where for a break?

La Fabbrica del Gelato
Piazza 11 Febbraio , Lenno

An adresse with delicious homemade ice-creams to enjoy with a view over the Lenno bay and the Como lake.

Where to eat? 

Panzerotteria “Il Priscio”
Via Santa Tecla, 5, Milan

When you spend a day walking in the Milano streets, the discovery of the Panzerotti, is the solution. Il Prisco is the good place for it. With this only speciality on their menu, no need to hesitate. Just up the road from the cathedral, this address has only advantages.

Verona – 7 days – 59 metres above the sea level

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We arrived in Italy by the col of Brenner. In spite of crossing the Italian border, there was still an Austrian influence. We were still accompanied by the Vito, with all the family. We did a stop at Vipiteno, the most norther city of the country. We walked in the Via Citta Nuova, along massive buildings with a Renaissance style. At its extremity, we crossed under the Torre delle Dodici and its bell of 46-metre height. Since 1472, this tower was the link between the ancient and new city. On the main square, we found a shelter under the parasols of a café to order our first espresso ristretto.

We left the city and started to look for a wild camping place. As the forecasts were pretty bad, we asked to the local farmers for a shelter in one of their warehouses. But many of them refused. On the hills, behind the village of Mules, we finally had a positive reply after negotiations. We camped in a garage under construction, just under the sports field.

As usual, we celebrated the day with an evening drink. This time, we enjoyed a French southern drink: the Henri Bardouin Pastis to bring the sunshine after this wet day! For dining, we shared a “survival” box offered by Katadyn before our departure. Just a few kilometres further, this box would have done all the trip in the trunk of one of the sidecars. For the ones who are not sure about the taste of it, we were surprised! Well, we didn’t get all the flavours of a « Beef risotto with a Balkan sauce” without reading the label, but this meal was comforting after the tough day we had.

When we woke up, each one of the team went down to the river for a quick shower in the clear water from the mountain.

Once cleaned, we went down towards South and the city of Bolazno by going along the river of Isarco. Julien’s nephew, Zack, was with me, in the sidecar.

Back down from the valley, we looked for a campsite next to the Caldaro lake. But none of them were available with our tight budget and our needs of a wide area for 3 vehicles and 8 people. We decided to change our strategy and went back to the mountains. We arrived at the “Passo dela Mendola” where we enjoyed a viewpoint over the valley before to continue up to the Romeno village.

We spent the afternoon there on a play area. A nice break during our trip with games of Quixx, Yamms and a good skateboarding sessions by going down the hills with the kids.

The following day, we headed to the “Lago di Garda”. On the way, we stopped at the Azienda Agricola Fontanel in the Fiave village, before the lake. The young cheesemaker stopped his ricotta recipe for showing us its treasures. We fell in love with the fresh tomme cheese and the blue cheese.

While we went down towards the Riva del Garda, we enjoyed the view over the lake reaching the horizon between the mountains.

Once along the lake, we kept going towards East and stopped for a swim on a tree-field beach nearby the Porto village. The water was clear and refreshing. On the ground, there were small pebbles playing with our balance. Quickly we didn’t touch the ground anymore as there was a 300-metre depth in some places. After a few lengths, the abyss was mesmerising.  

We went up to the village of Bardolina and opted for a wield field near the monastery of Enero San Giorgio, to pitch up the tents.

We woke up early in the morning on the following day and folded up quickly the tents to reach Verona. A quick start of the day to avoid the traffic of the city. No worries during this trip. We parked next to the football stadium of Hellas Verona and started our visit of the city by foot. People say that when you visit it, it is like doing a time travel. And this started by crossing the Palio gate and the park of the ancient fortifications drawing the entrance of the historical city. Verona keeps the heritage of its various glorious pasts. The Roman vestiges stands alongside with the Renaissance buildings in a quite interesting alchemy, which does not troubles to the inhabitants. Our walk was going through the central square called Piazza Bra where stands, in the middle, the majestic Roman amphitheater.

In the course of a street, we entered in a small courtyard where stands Juliette’s balcony. The one where Romeo would have done its famous tirade. Then, we passed the Piazza dell Erbe which lays at the bottom of the Lamberti tower.

The walk continued by the place where was the herbs market, now replaced by some souvenir shops. On the right of this ancient economical heart is the Piazza dei Signori ; genuine political center of the Renaissance city, surrounded by the courthouses  : “del Podesta” and the Loggia di Fra Giocondo.

By narrow streets, we reached the Adige river bank. There, we took the breakfast made of focaccia, croissants and coffee. After crossing the Ponte Pietra, we conclued the trip by passing the Duomo of the Di Santa Matricolare cathedral after crossing the Castelvecchio and a break on the bridge of Scaligero.

Back on the stadium car park, it was our last picnic all together. The Vito and the family headed to France.

For us, the new direction was Brescia and we looked for a wild camping spot in front of the mountains, on the heights of the city.

After the village of Serla, we took a dead-end road. From the terraces, the elderly people were watching. We reached a nice picnic area, next to a barn with donkeys and horses. At 9pm, while finishing our dinner, there was a music on the back of the barn, from the house. Was-it a music for helping the animals to sleep ? There were three religious songs before to stop. At the time of going to our tents for the night, a car arrived and lighted up the camp with its front beams leaving only the noise of cows and bells.

On the next day, we went to the area of Brescia and more specifically the city of Flero where there is the Givi company. During the preparation of our trip, this company was one of the first ones to support us by offering the opportunity to become brand ambassadors on the roads of the world. We spent the day with Simona and Antonia working in the company and offering us a visit of the manufacture plus the R&D department.

Then, we went along the Iseo lake that we saw between the tunnels we crossed. Finally, we stopped for the evening along the lake of Endine. It was not easy to find a spot sheltered from the neighborhood. We asked a team of German scouts to join them but after a first positive request, they refused by being afraid from the reprisals by the city hall welcoming them. Finally, we pitched up the tents on a fishing area. At 9pm, the bar at the opposite side of the lake, played a loud music to celebrate a birthday and let off a nice fireworks by 11pm.

At 5am, a storm stopped the peacefulness of the night. We folded up the wet tents at 7am between two showers. We headed to Canzo, a small city next to the “Lago di Como”. We will stop there for a few days for Emilie’s birthday.


OUR FAVOURITE PLACE
Where to stop for a break? 

 

The cheese factory “Azienda Agricola Fontanel”
Via 3 Novembre, 111, Fiave

A charming small farm lost in the mountains of Trentin. A warm welcoming and delicious chesses. No excuse for not stopping!