Land of sunshine and wine, I discovered last weekend that Italy seem to have it sorted.
On the bank holiday weekend last week (hold on.. is every weekened in Bavaria a bank holiday weekend?) we packed our rubber rings and our suncream into our Skoda Superb (yes.. we were the coolest kids on the Autobahn) and embarked on the road trip from Munich to Lake Garda in Northern Italy.
There were a few obstacles to this trip by road, namley having the ‘avoid Autobahns’ setting turned on on the Sat Nav, not realising, and adding a good few extra hours onto the 30 degree heat journey in a black car. However, due to this pesky setting we did end up taking a mountain side tour of Austria (this invloved lots of ‘heart-in-throat’ and ‘hanging-on-for-dear-life’ moments on my part caused by some rational vertigo and a lack of crash barriers). During this scary mountain goat drive we were forced to take an hour break in a mountain side town to let the Pfingst parade (pentecost) go past. It was a strange experience and I personally thought that we had landed ourselves on an episode of Derren Brown and that we would never get out alive. However, we did and there’s nothing like a roadtrip that can bring you closer to friends – 5 people squished into a car and 5 hours of conversation.
Situated between Milan and Venice, Lake Garda itself is spectacularly beautiful. With a dramatic mountainous backdrop and clear blue water, you can see why it was a favourite destination of the famous German poet Goethe. The sheer size of the lake is breathtaking – it is 160km around and at 17km wide you really feel like you’re in the ocean (hence why I refused to jump off of our hire boat as I couldn’t shake my inherrent irrational fear of sharks).
The hire boat in itself is a story. We, despite having no experience whatsoever, decided we would like to get further out into the lake and hire a boat. It went a little bit like this:
Boat hire man: Ok girls! This is your boat.
Emma: Emm. Ok.. Do you need our details or anything?
Boat hire man: Emm ok .. first name?
Boat hire man: Ok great Anna! This is how you go forward, this is how you go back, please bring the boat back with a full tank of petrol, the petrol station is over there *waves vaguely out to one side of the lake*. Off you go!
As you may be able to tell already, this did not go as smoothly as planned. After attempting to get out of the harbour and doing some crazy out of control donuts which involved a lot of screaming and getting beeped at by a huge passenger ferry, we managed to sort-of learn how to work the thing. Filling up the fuel was a ridiculous task, it turns out that reversing into a lake side fuel station apparently isn’t that easy!
The trip involved lots of red wine and lots of good bread. We found the Italians to be wonderfully friendly even although our Italian was more a mixture of French and Spanish with a hint of Robert di Niro. On our last night we enjoyed some cocktails by the lakeside and the owner of the bar kept pouring Peach Schnapps into our cocktails and exclaiming ‘Salute!” while we tried to sip our now- confused Mojitos without grimacing. Not the cultural highlight of the trip but a highlight nonetheless.
I think it is impossible to visit Italy and not fall in love with the culture and the mentality. The Italian people are the most chilled and relaxed people I have ever come across. Choosing between pasta or pizza at a restaraunt was the most stressful thing I endured all weekend.
Plus, Antipasto is a way of life. Italy, I’ll be back!