Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Adventures in Italy
On October 11th, we packed the car, the kids, and the dog for four days in Menaggio Italy. We left around noon. The drive itself was absolutely beautiful. One difference that I noticed between driving in Switzerland and driving in Italy is that Italian roads are narrow, people drive fast, and motorcycles zip in and out of traffic. You must be on your best game ready to be alert for pedestrians, winding narrow roads, and motorcycles that may be in your way. I must say Nick did a terrific job manuevering his way through this chaotic obstacle course. Geno, however, had trouble with all the twists and turns. He ended up puking all over himself. We stopped on the side of the road to clean him up the best we could with baby wipes, changed his clothes, and were back on the road in no time. I guess he has been plagued with motion sickness.
Once there, we needed to get to the Holiday Travel agency to pick up our keys. Another difference in Italy compared to Switzerland is parking. In Italy it is very difficult to find spaces to park. After driving around incessantly to find one, Nick decided to park on the sidewalk next to the travel agency. He figured he would be quickly in and out. Meanwhile, Geno, Coretta, Charlie and I waited in the car. All of a sudden a huge tour bus came up. The guy started yelling in Italian and gesturing at me to move my car. I quickly open the door to get into the driver seat and as I am swinging the door open, I hit a women and her stroller and while this is happening Charlie is running free in the street. Once I grabbed Charlie out of the street I moved the car and yelled a few explicatives back at him. An older Italian man standing by viewing this as a spectator was laughing. I think in order to be true to my Italian roots, I need to go off my Zoloft, and let my temper be free. Nick finally came out and told me that the British women helping him had stated that the Italians can be a little impatient.
Once we received the keys we were on our way to find our condo...finally. As we are driving, we realize that we didn't have the directions. You see, many things in Italy do not have addresses, just vague directions to turn here, follow the road here, etc. After our family yelling match, we finally found it. We opened up the private gate to our property and drove up the steep mountainous landscape. We then parked the car and opened the door to be pleasantly surprised that the view was just as breathtaking as the pictures. Once we unpacked, we settled in for the night taking a few hikes and doing some grocery shopping saving our energy for the next day. Coretta decided to go swimming in the pool. We realized that the pool is not heated and can be very cold at night. She decided to swim in the morning the next day after the sun warmed it. A nice British resident stated that they usually close the pool October 1st, but the weather has been exceptionally hot this year so they kept it open. Coretta finally did get to swim for a brief period the next day.
The next day Coretta and I decided to drive into the town of Menaggio and do some sight seeing. We saw beautiful views of montains and landscaping all around the lake walk. We tried to find a place to eat lunch, but could not seem to find anything. Coretta finally pointed to a small deli-sized place that served pizza. We decided to pick up a few slices and bring them back to Nick and Geno as well. Once Geno had his nap, we decided to drive into the town of Como (mind you the first night of sleeping was light). Once there we walked around through the narrow cobblestoned streets. An African man approached me and asked where we were from and handed the kids these blown glass African elephants which Nick paid 7 euros for. He then led us to the lake where there was several shops, the Volt Museum, a playground, and other crafts for sale. Coretta and Geno enjoyed playing at the park and sliding down the slide.
Because of the narrow and windy streets, Nick wanted to leave before dark. We decided to eat at the McDonalds ( I know what you are thinking--how American of us) because Geno would need to eat before we drove back, and we knew he would be served fast. The kids received this light sabers as toys and had a blast with them. We then drove back where Nick had to fight with aggressive drivers and more motorcycles weaving in and out of the lanes, but we made it back just in time to take in the beautiful sunset and drink a bottle of wine on the terrace.
The next day, we decided to take the boat ride that leaves from Menaggio and takes you to Bellaggio, Varenna, and Tremezzo. Geno thought the boat ride was neat and had to walk up and down. Coretta went up top and took some pictures of the landscape. Our first stop was Bellaggio. To me, this was by far my favorite city. They had many unique shops, paintings, antiques, and of course silk. This particular area is known for their quality silk. I ended up buying three scarves and Coretta bought a cross necklace and two postcards for her collection. The cobblestone streets were beautiful and there were many open aired cafes and ristorantes around. Nick and Geno decided to share some gelato while the girls shopped for a while.
We then jumped back onto the boat and made our way to Varenna. In this town, it is very old Italy. They have very steep cobblestoned streets and old churches, castles, and amazing architecture. We walked around the lake to the villa monastery. We also saw to villas that were named Geno and Coretta. How cool is that. Once we made our way back, we thought we would try to get a bite to eat. It was 4 o'clock and they weren't serving food, so we decided to go back to Menaggio and eat there.
Once back from the boat ride into Menaggio we could not find any restaurants open which we found weird considering how much Italians love their food and wine. We then got back to our condo to find out from this same British women I mentioned before, that Italians do not start serving food until 7 pm once they have put the kids down. No wonder nothing was ever open.
All in all, this was a great trip filled with many sleepless nights because of Geno, but well worth it.