Our journey continued this week as we ventured across the Alps into Italy.
I’m sitting in the shade of a tree, providing some protection from the blazing mid-afternoon sun. Headphones in, I’m listening to Fink’s “Sort of Revolution” extremely loud and enjoying an ice-cold beer. I lean my head back, and close my eyes against the sun as it dapples through the leaves above me. In the distance are the mountains that circle Lake Garda. Sparse clouds are suspended, seemingly motionless over the azure blue waters. Fuelled by the warmth of the sun, the melodic beat of the music and the haze from the alcohol I feel an almost zen-like sense of well-being. “This is perfect” I thought.
In contrast to week one, when we’d travelled through five countries, we decided to slow the pace a little. After an epic drive our first stop was the Northern lake town of Torbole, the windsurfers paradise, and Camping Al Porto. It felt Newquay-esq where board-shorts seemed to be the must-have fashion item of the season. The campsite was rather busier than those we’d been used to, but we managed to fit our van and awning on a shaded pitch thirty-seconds walk from the lake.
On the occasion of our first night in Italy, we did what we have the last two trips here: Find the most touristy looking restaurant and order the biggest pizza they have and a glass of the local beer. In this case it was Forst, brewed “just up the road” we were told.
The next day we had ideas of taking windsurfing lesson but the wind didn’t seem to want to blow. It was probably too hot, so like us it decided to spend the day sunbathing and exploring the town. We also finally got the BBQ to work despite the crappy “just light the bag” charcoal, thanks to some German firelighters that almost took my face off.
It was at this point we cheated a little by spending a few nights in a hotel south of the lake in Desenzano del Garda. “You know” said Katie “I’m loving being able to get out of the shower and being able to keep my feet dry.” I knew what she meant. I’m not proud to admit it but we really did wallow in the luxurious of it all.
Peeling ourselves away from the hotel pool we ventured down the road to Sirmione. Navigating the spit of land that forms a sort of natural pier into the centre of the southern bank of the lake — we parked and ventured over the bridge into down-town Sirmione. Here we indulged our inner tourist once again by eating gelato and watching the sunset.
Having made a large dent in our holiday funds we checked out of the hotel and moved north around the lake to Lazise. Here we encountered the full glory of the Italian campsite. When you’re a good few kilometers from the centre on the main road you start to notice the signs. At first a just few, then more with increasing ferocity until they line the bank of the lake one after the other. You’re not, as we discovered, just expected to pick one and check-in. We spent an interesting couple of hours driving from site to site inspecting toilet blocks, pools, children’s entertainment and on-site bars before we finally gave in and just picked one.
Here we stayed and for four glorious days enjoyed the private beach and exploring the beautiful town. We swam, snorkeled and sunbathed. Ate gelato, pizza and even brought a fridge-magnet. No messing about, this was a proper holiday.
Alas, it was time to move on. Switzerland and our final week beaconed. We have a week left and just over two-thousand kilometers back to the Euro-tunnel at Calais.
To be continued…