Sunday, January 12, 2020

An Italian Road Trip: Part 1

The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda
Hurrah! I've been so excited to sit down and write my posts from Italy and - finally - here they are. Italy's one of my favourite countries in the world; prior to our roadtrip I'd been to Rome, Cinque TerrePositano and Praiano (you can click on each place to read the blog post if you fancy!) and completely fell in love with the history, the food, the cobbled side streets, the food, the views, the countryside, the beaches, the food... all of it. Its long been a dream of mine to go on an Italian road-trip so last January myself and Roberto (Rob, but let's call him Roberto for the sake of this post) sat down in a cafe in Finnieston and started planning. There are so many places we had on our original list that we didn't get to visit in the end (Sorrento, Pompeii, Tropea, Calabria, Sicily, Sardinia, Lampedusa, Portofino, Venice, Lake Como, Puglia, Procida, the list goes on), so my advice would be to start big - list every single place you'd love to make a stop at - and work backwards from there to see what's possible in the time that you have. And then you'll have a ready made list of places leftover for your next roadtrip (ever the optimist). The way we did our roadtrip definitely wasn't perfect but hopefully it'll provide some inspiration for those of you hoping to do something similar, or hoping to visit a certain part of Italy, in the future. We were away for 20 days - or just under three weeks - total, so I've broken it down into a few different posts, with today's covering Lake Garda and Verona, which spanned days 1-4. 

The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda
We took a short flight from Manchester to Verona, landed around 7pm and from there it's roughly an hour and a half's drive to Malcesine, Lake Garda. Now, I will say that Lake Garda is so, so much bigger than I'd anticipated so, after much deliberation, we decided on Malcesine. There are lots of little towns that are supposed to be equally as beautiful but sadly, with only two days to play with, we had to narrow it down to one place. On the plus side, that's a solid reason to re-visit right there. By the time we arrived at Hotel Val Di Sogno it was dark and we were very sleepy so we had some dinner and went to bed. The next morning we woke up and opened the curtains and with a 'HOLY MOLY!' took in the view that we'd missed the night before. The hotel sits right on the lake and you're greeted with the most beautiful view imaginable every time you look up, so we spent the morning sitting reading our books, having a wee tea and taking it all in. Lake Garda's so incredibly tranquil that within a few hours you feel a real peacefulness wash over you, the kind that normally takes a good few days - if it arrives at all - to appear on holiday. Its got a similar vibe to a very wholesome 60s American summer camp (please know I'm basing this comparison entirely on Dirty Dancing but I believe it to be true) with families and couples alike frolicking - that's right, there's frolicking in abundance - jumping in the lake, playing games, doing watersports... wholesome really is the word for Garda. So after a slow first morning we popped our trainers on - sensible shoes is one thing I'd recommend for Lake Garda, we ended up doing roughly 20k steps per day (and only 5k of those were me going back to snap 'just one more photo' - and walked round to Castello Scaligero, soaking up all the wholesomeness along the way, which is worth it alone for the beautiful views across Malcesine. It can be hired as a wedding venue and, excitingly, we got to see a wedding take place whilst we were there so that, along with the view, was almost more than my old heart could take. We spent about an hour and a half here - at the castle in general, not watching the wedding like weirdos - before heading for a gelato at Dolce Vita (very, very good) for a leisurely stroll around the town and, finally, parked ourselves at Gigi's for the night. We'd heard great things about their gluten free pizza and it did not disappoint! They brought over bread for Rob and rice crackers for me and we sat at a table on their wee outdoor terrace overlooking the lake whilst we ate these (pre-pizza) and occasionally muttered general sentiments about the good life. Definitely one to add to your 'where to eat' list for Garda! I fully believed I was already at peak happiness until we saw a REAL LIFE LAKESIDE PROPOSAL walking home. Believe me, romance levels are off the charts in Garda.

The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda Lake Garda Black and White photo The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The next morning started with a wee post-breakfast cycle round the lake before doing a couple of hours of paddle-boarding (nothing has ever made my lack of upper body strength so apparent). Water-sports of any kind should definitely be on your Garda list if not already, it's a good way to see the lake from a different perspective and paddle-boarding lets you do it at a very leisurely pace, occasionally having a lie down to sunbathe when your weak, weak arms get too tired. We had many a grand plan for the rest of our day (boat trip to Limone, the Monte Baldo cable car) when - dun dun dun - poor Rob got hit with food poisoning. So one of us ended up spending the day on the balcony, reading and having a slightly guilt-ridden but, nonetheless, jolly old time and the other one spent the day having a... less jolly time. Alas, the next morning brought about the end of our time in Malcesine so I don't have anything more in the way of recommendations, but I will say that it's somewhere I was desperate to re-visit almost as soon as we'd arrived. It's one of the most picturesque places I've been; I remember Alice Catherine saying that she kept expecting the back-drop to roll up at the end of the night like a film set and I honestly couldn't have put it better myself, it's so striking that you'll find yourself going 'that can't be real!' more often than you reach for a sip of Aperol Spritz. It truly is the perfect place to relax, to unwind and to escape the business of day to day life.

The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Verona Guide Vecchia Verona Hotel The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda Guide to Verona> The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda The Little Magpie Italy Roadtrip Verona and Lake Garda Thankfully Rob was feeling roughly a quarter human by lunchtime the next day so we packed our bags and headed for Verona! I know a few people who've been to Verona and they all said the same thing - 'you're gonna LOVE IT'. And I really, really did. It's much, much quieter than some of the other cities, like Rome or Naples, and very picturesque to walk around. We stayed at Vecchia Verona, which was roughly £70 for the night, and boy oh boy would I recommend it. It's really well located and the room was my European dream come true. It had a beautiful big four poster bed with princess net (that's what my family used to call them when I was younger so princess nets they will remain) and a balcony - exactly the kind of perfect balcony you'd imagine a little side street in Italy to have -which you can enjoy the continental breakfast that comes included with your booking on in the morning; think fresh croissants and bread delivered to the door, jam, ham and cheese, yoghurt... it's all very lovely. We were only in Verona for one night so ditched our bags and headed out for a wander. We started with gelato, it would be rude not to, and a walk across the bridge, where we were lucky enough to catch a man playing a beautiful big grand piano, and then on towards the funicular. It's only 1e and you get a great view of the city both on the journey up and from the viewpoint at the top. From there we walked down all the cobbled steps - just watch those daily steps tally up - and headed towards The Balcony. Not just any balcony, JULIET'S BALCONY. We'd watched Letters to Juliet the night before (Rob was too ill to complain) and I foolishly thought it'd be the same in real life; very quiet with long, elaborate love letters tucked in every crevice. As it turns out, there's crowds upon crowds squeezed in like sardines and, although there are love letters, they're less long heartfelt declarations and more post-its with 'Dianne 4 Adam' written on them. I'm not saying don't go, I'm just saying... keep your expectations low. We made a bad dinner decision - 4 months on and I'm still seething about it - so sadly no food recommendations from this day. But I do have an event recommendation for you! That evening we went to see Carmen at the amphitheatre after a few people recommended it over on Instagram and it was incredible! It felt like a real once-in-a-lifetime experience (and not only because it was still 38 degrees at 9pm and I was discovering that toes can, in fact, sweat). It's on again this year from June 13th until September 5th and if you'd like to find out a bit more information, or buy tickets, you can do so here. And I'm afraid that's all I have for you from Verona as the next morning we left bright and early to head for the train to Florence! But more on that in the next post.

Amy

3 comments:

Annija said...

Hello! Incredible photos, what camera do you use? :)

Adriana said...

Hi Darling! So glad you loved my country! You've been in beautiful places but you really missed south of Italy like my region! Next time come to Puglia babe! I've got lots of beautiful advices for you!

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