Travels in Italy - Part 4 - From Lake to Mountains

3rd March, 2022

Opening our green shutters that morning was a joy: the sun streamed from a blue sky, illuminating a cobbled courtyard surrounded on three sides by tall, colourful buildings, with a glimpse of the lake and tall, narrow Cyprus trees over the terracotta tiled rooves. How quintessentially Italian is all that?

After a quick breakfast and a chat with the owner of the hotel who had taken it over a few years back from an elderly couple and modernised it, we couldn’t wait to get outside and have a wander around the still quiet streets and along the lakeshore. The vistas that met us were magical as the water stretched hazily before us, narrowing towards the northern tip of Lake Garda.

After a delightful stroll by the clear, aquamarine water, lapping gently at the rocks and little rough sand beaches, with just ourselves and the ducks for company, we headed back towards the crenallated castle and into the narrow, cobbled streets of the old town. Most things were shut and we had the place to ourselves - not what most tourists want, but just perfect for us. It is in solitude that you can truly notice the details and absorb the atmosphere of these ‘lost in time’ Italian villages. 

When we reached the top of the old town, life resumed with open shops, bars and the chatter of the locals. Inevitably we were drawn back to the bar by our hotel which we had enjoyed the night before and treated ourselves to a coffee and an aperitivo in the bright spring sunshine. Many of the same people were back there again, a ritual of sharing drink, food and conversation with friends. The essence of Italian life. 

From here we wandered back down to the little harbour, to the restaurant which we had spotted last night by the waters’s edge. It was bursting with life but we spied a little table for two by the edge of the harbour which had our name on it. My aim had been to eat spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with clams) by the water, as we had done so many times before when we lived in Italy, and my wish was delightfully granted as we ate our delicious platefuls and sipped local wine to the lilting sound of lapping water and tolling church bells. A classic vista stretched before us of boats and colourful harbour side buildings set to a backdrop of stern mountains beyond, softened by the watery haze arising from this magnificent lake warmed by the early March sunshine.

Replete, in so many ways, we reluctantly returned to our hotel to collect our luggage and loaded it into the car to head towards the hills. Just an hour and a half, and a beautiful drive later, we arrived in the town of Cavalese in the midst of the southern Italian Alps. After checking into the historic Hotel La Stua, we explored the streets and bought our ski pass ready for the next day before returning to the hotel to shower, change and enjoy another glorious Italian meal in their ancient, wood-pannelled dining room. An early night beckoned, with a full day of skiing to look forward to in the morning…


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