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Tuesday, 10 February 2015

We are still here......if you want to find us visit Love Lake Garda

Hi, You may be wondering why I haven't been posting on this blog for such a long time??? It's not because I no longer love Lake Garda or spend any time's because I decided to start up a new blog/website called Love Lake Garda. It's not just a blog but a website which is full of useful info about Lake Garda. So if you're planning on visiting Lake Garda then you really should visit Love Lake Garda.....see you there!!!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Sunset Lago di Garda

I was feeling a little low on Sunday as my sister and brother and their families had been out for the preceding ten days, they had all gone home by Saturday evening and things seemed very quiet.
Then I received a phone call from our friends Livio and Tania, inviting us out on his boat for the afternoon, it was a beautiful sunny day and very hot, so a boat trip was just the tonic to lift my mood.
I’ve already been out a few times with him this year for a spot of sardine fishing, although each time our trips were cut short by a sudden change in the weather. The sardines in the lake are superb, same texture as salt water sardines but a milder flavour. I will tell you more about sardine fishing in a separate post. Sardine season is over so Sunday we would be fishing Coregone.
Coregone is a fish that slightly resembles Seabass both in appearance and texture. But again it is a lighter, milder flavour,  absolutely delicious…..I quite often eat them in restaurants.
We met Livio and Tania and then drove to Sirmione, where Livio’s boat is moored. 

“Sirmione is a one of the most popular towns on the lake with the tourists. It stands on a peninsula with a minimum broadness of 120 mt which stretches out for about 4 km in Lake Garda from the southern shore.

In ancient times Sirmione - “Sirmio” for the Romans – used to be a "road station" at the basis of the peninsula and a renowned place for holidays and thermal bath for nobles.

Sirmione still holds all the ancient ruins of the famous villa which is said to belong to the famous Veronese poet Caio Valerio Catullo who lived in Sirmione during the first century B.C., especially the part which stands on the peninsula was also inhabited in late ages (Byzantines and Longobards built fortifications), it received municipal orders in the XII century, and from the XIII century it was ruled by the Della Scala family of Verona.

Since 1405, Sirmione, as well as the other Lake towns of the area of Brescia, became part of the Republic of Venice.

Sirmione is nowadays an important touristic-climatic and thermal bath centre: the first information on the underwater Boiola source (69 °C), collected in 1889, date back to 1546; the first establishment dates back to 1898.

In the recent years there has been an significant development due to thermal cures.”
Livios boat is moored right under the bridge at the entrance to the town, in a very pretty little port. It always feels a bit special setting off from such an enchanting location.
Once out on the water Livio set up his sonar fish finder, he knew where we needed to be, but to stand the best chance of catching Coregone you need to find the right depth of water. One we arrived at the spot, the girls relaxed on the front of the boat, while Livio gave me a lesson in coregone fishing….which is fairly difficult. We spent about three hours fishing, taking breaks to cool down by diving into the lake and drink a beer. We caught three nice sized fish, but many more got away.
As the sun started to dip in the sky we packed away the fishing gear and set off to the town of Garda for refreshments. In the 14 years I have been coming here I have never visited Garda town before, I wish I had, like all the other towns on the lake it is very pretty, but with its own character.
It has quite a long promenade with lots of bars and restaurants, which were filled with holiday makers taking their aperitivo or eating an early dinner. The atmosphere was such that I felt like I was on holiday…a ‘holiday moment’.
It was still very hot, so we decided to venture into the back streets in search of a bar to drink a beer. We found a very quaint little place, complete with aircon. In most bars when you order a drink the bring you a little plate of crisp, olives and maybe a one or two other little snacks. This was one of the places where they lay it all out on the bar and invite you to help yourself….which is a bit dangerous, because I don’t think they expect you are going to eat your first meal of the day there at 6.30pm.
The salami in particular was very good, the beer they poured us was to die for. I could have quite easily sat and drank three or four, but it was getting a bit late and we had to get back to Sirmione before it got too dark.
The trip back was out of this world as the sunset was spectacular (check out my video on my Facebook page). The effect of the beer only added to the experience and I had a massive grin across my face and a feeling of content. 

We moored up in Sirmione and rounded the day off with a pizza in Livio’s friend’s restaurant ‘Erica’. The pizzas here are fantastic as is the fish and indeed the rest of the menu.
Perfect end to a perfect day.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Cuel - A new place to meditate

The old rustico where I like to meditate is owned by a family who use it most Sundays during the summer, and they probably will into hunting season. Now that it’s August and Italy closes down for holiday they spend more time there during weekdays. Anyway, the consequence is that I have had to find alternative places to meditate.

On our mountain there are a number of clearings in the woods, where the hunters set up pill boxes and bird traps. I stumbled across one of these just ten minutes further on from my rustico. If you forget what it actually is, a place to trap and kill animals, it is a very peaceful and pretty place. I have sat and meditated here a few times, but even though I am not squeamish and probably have eaten some of its trappings in my local trattoria, I eventually decided that meditation in a place set up to kill didn’t tally and so I went in search of another spot.

I’d been told that there was a clearing high up, called Cuel, where some of the trees where very old, one in particular was said to be 500 years old. Apparently there had been many more trees this old but they had been chopped down during the war to build cabins for partisans. I went in search of the 500 year old tree, sure that it would give me the perfect energy for my meditation, which after 18months of practising I am still struggling to master.

It wasn’t difficult to find the clearing, it was only another ten minute walk from the hunters spot. When I arrived at the clearing the first thing that I noticed was the spectacular view across to the pre-alpi, interrupted only by the puffy white clouds that floated past, some of which I was looking down on.

Then I noticed the wild apple and pear trees,

then another old rustico and standing beside it was the beautiful old tree.

The trunk was about 2.5m, maybe 3m in diameter and the lower branches at least 1m.

The bark low down was thick and craggy like the skin of a really old person who had lived their whole life in the sun, but up above I could see that new healthy branches had sprouted and the tree looked as if it would easily live another five hundred years.

I walked around the tree looking for somewhere comfortable to sit and meditate, and I wasn’t surprised when I discovered low at the base of the trunk a bench like formation inviting me to sit.

 So I sat, closed my eyes and meditated. To be honest, I still couldn’t master it and I haven’t been able to since, maybe I never will, but I have had glimpses of where I think it will take me. These glimpses and also the calm and peacefulness I find sitting under the old tree or outside the old rustico set me up for the day and make me more prepared for any difficult situation that may arise. Mind you I sometimes wish I could stay up there all day, but knowing I can go there the next day I can walk back down with a smile on my face and spring in my step.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Pescare sulla montagna- Fishing on the mountain

Ciao reggazzi, I've been off line for a bit, first storm of the season blew out our internet connection. I hope that doesn't become the norm as living in the mountains we have quite a few storms, in fact, there's one brewing now so let’s see if I get to finish this post.

What I was going to tell you about before I was cut off was my trout fishing trip up in the mountains. My friend Enzo took me and his friend Pipo, to a little lake, Lago Vaia, he had found, about an hour and half’s drive to Maniva in the mountain.

Of course being a couple of keen fishermen they had all the kit on, camouflaged from head to toe, but I did think they would get a bit hot as it was 28 degrees when they picked me up. They did laugh at me though; I was wearing flip flops, shorts and a t shirt. I did bring some walking boots with me as knowing Enzo, there would be a bit of a hike somewhere along the line.

Then after we had been driving for an hour, I realised why they were had laughed, the temperature had dropped to 7 degrees and there were ten foot walls of snow either side of the road.

We eventually arrived at the lake, after a couple of miles of 'off roading' in Enzo's Hummer. When I climbed out in my beachwear, to be introduced to the lake owner and a few other fishermen I was greeted with some very confused looks. "sono inglese" I said, and then an understanding crept across their faces "of course, English", luckily for me Enzo had some spare combat wear in the back of the Hummer.

We were invited into a wooden cabin and fed bread, homemade salami, a mountain cheese called Bagoss, which is very expensive down in the town, the chunk sitting on the table must have been worth a 100 euros. After breakfast and coffee and red wine and banter, which I didn't have a chance of understanding as it was all in 'dialetto', we went down to lake to fish.

It was very tranquil place with a fantastic backdrop; it didn't matter to me that I fished until 3 without catching a thing. Enzo caught with his first caste and then caught many more.

Pipo didn't hook as many as Enzo, but he did catch the biggest of the day, a giant.

We ate a late lunch, more Bagoss, salami and bread, washed down with vino rosso, then it was back to the lake to fish, the aura of the location enhanced and somewhat blurred at the edges by the digestivo, a homemade cross between grappa and limoncello.

We fished for another couple of hours and I managed to catch two in quick succession just minutes before Enzo called time.

I was given a much bigger share of the catch than I had caught, but I ate the trout, either grilled, baked or 'sotto olio' for five days on the was ‘fantastico’, an amazing day out, can't wait for the next trip.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Mount Pizzocolo-I made it

After last weeks unsuccessful attempt to reach the top of the mountain that offers a 360degree lake view, plus stunning views across to the Apennines and the Alps, I was determined to find a path to the top.

I don't know whether it because I'm a bit of an amateur and don't understand how to follow the guide books, or I'm just stupid, or that the guide books are written for people who already know the way, but I seem to struggle to follow them. Anyway, on Friday, in 27 degree heat, with my little bag containing, bottle of water, mini picnic, camera, and two phones, I set off to find sentieri 11, which would take me to the top of Pizzocolo via the Malga Valley.

I drove to where the guidebook guided me and was pleasantly surprised to find a signpost, which did in fact point to Mount Pizzocolo, via Malga Valle, on route 11. I parked up and set off. The first part of the walk was along a concreted road, which then became a dirt track, with concreted over some of the steeper parts. I had been walking for about 30mins and was beginning to wonder whether I would be following this concreted dirt track all the way to the top. Then I came to another place to where it was possible to park the car and thought maybe I had parked in the wrong place and this was where the walk began.

I followed the red and white marker, although it no longer had names or numbers, so I just hoped I was following the correct route and was again pleasantly surprised. The route took me up a fairly steep track, through some very pretty woodland, lots of flowers and rock formations, it was a bit like a set out of Lord of the Rings, it changed all the time, sometimes dense, sometimes open, sometimes rocks, sometimes just trees. I walked for about an hour then finally came out of the woods and arrived at an old building. I could see the top of the mountain, but I couldn't see the path anymore, so I assumed you just had to climb the last bit.

It wasn't really a climb, but then it wasn't a walk, I sort of had to pull myself up on some rocks in places, in places it was easy enough not to use my hands. I must admit I was a bit worried about getting back down. I was just getting a bit concerned that I was going to maybe give up and go back down, when I came over a rock and was on a footpath. I thought this a bit strange, I was worried, but secretly hoping that I had made an error and there had been a path I could have taken, although I knew there were other routes up and this path just could have been from somewhere totally different. As I clambered on to the footpath I was right next to a hut, with a bench outside at which sat four Italians. I asked in my Italian, which included hand signals for the words I didn't know, like climbing, if the path led back down to the building. "si, si sentieri 11".

I had cocked up but was very relieved that I wouldn't have to climb back down. The Italians laughed when I told them I had climbed the last bit and indicated where I'd come up. "Sbagliato" they said, sort of laughing, which meens "you went wrong". They asked if I was Austrian, "No, sono inglese" I replied, indicating my vest, shorts and trainers, with my little handbag. They were all dressed appropriately in their mountain hiking clothes, boots and ruck sacks, they laughed, and agreed "of course, inglese". They made a few remarks about Barcelona beating Manchester, I agreed and said that I hoped so too, then carried on to the very, very top.

It was a shame that it wasn't a very clear day, so the views weren't what they could have been, but they were still amazing. I sat and ate my little picnic, Salami, cheese, salad and bread, at least my eating habits are italian. I meditated for a while, breathed in the fresh mountain air, took in the wonder (and lots of photos), then after about 40 mins I set off back down. The italians were still sat at the table and the reassured me that the path would take me where I wanted to go, which it did, so I enjoyed the walk down, satisfied at my achievement......I can't wait to do it again on a clear day.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Walk Up Mount Pizzocolo

"Due to its position in the Lake Garda hinterland, Mount Pizzocolo is an excellent observation point for viewing the entire lake. The 360 degree panorama encompasses not only the lake, but also the Alps (as far as Mount Rosa) and the Apennines" Brescian Trails, Hikiing in the Privince of Brescia.

After reading this I was very keen to make this my next walk, to drag Mari-lyn on. One of the starting positions was also very close to Hotel Colomber, which is my favourite place for eating Spiedo.

Spiedo being a Brescian dish where different meats, including various cuts of rabbit, pork, chicken and little birds, are skewered with slices of potato and sage leaves in between the meats, salted and drizzled with butter, as they cook slowly on the revolving spit. It is usually served with polenta and a jug of the juices, from the meats, butter and sage......squisito.

It's perfect for Sunday lunch and as I say, the Hotel Colomber is my favourite place to eat it. It's position in the village of St Michele, which is in the mountains above Gardone, is tranquil and very beautiful. There is a hangliding and parascending school next door, so you can let your lunch go down, relaxing in the grass and watching the brightly coloured shutes and wings, glide gently down from the top of the mountain and land in the field next door.

Anyway, back to the walk, I knew that after a few hours of hard walking, I would be able to refresh myself with an ice cold birra Moretti, from the hotel bar.

After walking for only ten minutes, I must admit I was almost ready to give up. The path we followed was up a very steep gully, in quite a dense woods. The leaves and twig were calf deep, which made climbing even more difficult, to make matters worse the empty chesnut shells were pricking me through my trainers, poor Mari-lyn had chosen walking sandals, so it was a bit like torture for her. Still we perservered and after about 30 mins we'd gone too far to go back, we just hoped the terrain would change soon. Then we came to a fork and didn't know which way to go.

I left Mari-lyn at the fork and set off to explore one direction, which of course turned out to be the wrong way, so we took the other path. Then after a few minutes I discovered I'd lost my sunglasses, which I loved so I had to go back and look. It was going to be like looking for a needle in a haystack they wre a browny greeny colour, just like the leaves. Mari-lyn waited at the fork while I checked back. It was worse going down than it had been going up. I ended going all the way back to the car, no luck, then I had to make my way back up the difficult path. Mari-lyn had gotten bored waiting and I met her half way back up. Luckily for me she did get bored, as she found my sunglasses, but she'd had enough of the torture and wasn't prepared to go back up, she went back to the hotel while I set off back up.

As luck would have it the terrain changed just a hundred yards from where I'd discovered I'd lost my sunglasses, which was nice, but a shame as if we'd gotten to there together I'm sure Mari-lyn would have continued. I'd promised her that I would only be a couple of hours and so wasn't sure I would get to the top, and even if I did, I wouldn't have much time to enjoy the views and rest after the climb.

It was steep, but through some nice woodland paths, lots of mountain flowers and strange sounding birds above my head. If I wasn't going to reach the top I wanted to at least reach somewhere that I could either see the top, or see some views. As it happened, when I did reach some openings in the trees, the views weren't too good as it was one of those days when the mist hangs quite heavy over the lake. I reached a point where I could finally see the top, I'd gone about fifteen minutes over the time I gave myself so thought I'd better turn back. It was a shame as I think I was only forty minutes from the top, if only I hadn't dropped my sunnys. I ran virtually all the way back down, scratching my shins and twisting my ankles, but I arrived back exactly on time, and the two beers cold beers were very welcome.

There are a few other routes up to the top of mount pizzocolo, so next time I will try one of those.