Monday, May 9, 2011

Italy: Spring 2011: Day 13: Monday, May 9: Sulzano

The sky is gray this morning and the outlook looks very unpromising.  This will be the first day since Prato where we didn’t see the sun in the morning.  So it is probably good that we plan to do our laundry in Iseo.  It is an easy operation….we are the only ones in the place and have no problems with the directions.  Before returning to Sulzano, we take a quick ride around the center of Iseo and find it quite attractive…another long promenade along the lake with numerous places to eat and drink.  

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We plan to return tonight for dinner.

Since it is still cloudy, we decide to make it a work day and drive over to Lake Garda to check out my client’s other hotel this summer, the Villa Giulia in Gargnano.   I want to avoid the main highway but the route is not clear and the GPS is not in synch with us so we do a bit of wandering before we end up on the right road.  We had planned to stop for a sandwich enroute but all the appealing places were either on the wrong side of the road or we drove past before noticing them.  The approach to Garda is quite dramatic….the road climbs high into the very green hills and then descends to the lake—quite different from the commercial and industrial scenery we saw near the city of Brescia.

We have lunch–sandwiches–at a bar on the waterfront of the town Salo’….the bar is located on the very well kept promenade with great views of Lake Garda–a pleasant place to eat, look at the lake and enjoy the sun, which has reappeared during our drive.  

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Gargnano is further up the west side of the lake and is a place we have never visited.  The Villa Giulia is a very elegant, refined hotel with beautifully manicured grounds right on the lake.  The swimming pool is gorgeous and there are rose bushes and other flowers in profusion.  One of the staff invites us to look around and I get to see one of the rooms, although my client’s room is occupied so it can’t be shown.  But I am happy to have had a chance to see the property first hand…..
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We take the fast road back to Sulzano and rest up a little before getting back in the car for the short ride to Iseo.  Before dinner, we walk around the main piazza and along the water.  Dinner is at the Ristorante San Martino, recommended to us by another guest at our hotel.  We are quite surprised to find that a good number of our fellow diners are Americans…..we didn’t think that there were that many American tourists staying on the lake.  Dinner is fine…the place is a bit quirky.  Most of the Italians are eating pizza and most of the foreigners are having more substantial meals.  I have a large portion of lardo on good toasted bread followed by a dish called rettangoli with clams and tomatoes.  The rettangoli were ravioli with a minced fish filling….a dish that I had never seen before, but which I enjoyed.  Diana’s grilled branzino was a bit overpowered by the taste of the grill.  We have a very local white wine from the Franciacorta region.  We end up talking to the Americans seated next to us who are in Italy for the start of the Mille Miglia in nearby Brescia…which used to be a very important car race in Italy but after a number of fatal crashes, was discontinued.  It has been revived as a long distance parade for pre-1957 cars.
We have a gelato on the way back to the car….tomorrow we leave the lake and will stop in Bergamo for a few hours.
 NOTE:  I intend to write to the publishers of the Rough Guides who, I feel, have given Lake Iseo short shrift in their reports about the lake and its towns.  I don’t have the exact passage from the book in front of me but their description talks about heavy industry and apartment blocks and there not being much point “in hanging around there”.  We found nothing could be further from the truth….the towns are very inviting and the lake is peaceful and beautiful.  There is some industry around Lovere but it doesn’t make the town unappealing and we never saw the apartment blocks that they mention.

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