Italy, Mountains and lakes: 2004

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Our journey from Morges in Switzerland went through stunning g mountain scenery, totally Heidi stuff to the Hotel Castle for our overnight stay which was perfectly located half way to Lake Como. The journey over the Nuffinen Pass was exhilarating and we really felt like being on top of the world. we found the road fantastic as we wound our way back down the other side of the alps to Lugarno before linking up with lake Como.



Arriving in Varenna after a short stop in Lecco we parked the car in a garage and walked up to our Hotel only yo find that our booking was for a month later !!! silly idiot i was but we found another joint but decided to try for more and lucked a great room in the Hotel Royal Victoria right on the Lake with stunning views and a very comfy bed. we explored the town and had a great meal before a very deserved sleep.


 Exploring locally at first we went to the beautiful Villa Monesteri which was just a 5 minute walk from the hotel and wow what a stunning palazzo and gardens which is right on the waterfront with such a stunning panorama


 We explored the town and ate at some lovely restaurants on the waterfront as well as climbing up the local hill to the old Castello with the most amazing views of the lake.


 We found some lovely quite spots to while away the hours at Aperitivo time.


 The ferry service around lake Como is fantastic and we visited Mennagio and Bellagio where we lunched at the metropole Hotel on the lakefront and spent some time exploring before heading back to Varuna and a fabulous dinner and evening in the balmy weather.


 What an amazing setting that Varenna enjoys and the lack of crowds at night so so lovely to enjoy especially on the waterfront


 Our last at in Lake Como and it was a bit wet so we caught the ferry to Villa Carlotta which was lovely with stunning gardens and amazing baroque interiors with a bit of Rocco here and there but very much with the classic open air Italian Villa style of the 17th century. We dined at the Villa Capressi which was lovely and it really was a great way to say farewell to one of our new favourite places on the planet.


 our view from the room was one of the best we have ever had and the balcony was a readers delight spot.



On our way to Verona we stopped in at Sirmione for lunch and wow it was so much busier in summer than when we were here in April 5 years ago. Arrived in Verona and checked into our hotel before taking a walk into town to the main Piazza next to the Roman Arena where we has dinner before heading back to sleep after a big day.


 We took in the Torre in town as well as a tour of the Arena then went to the Castello on the river as well as the major churches and finished the day with a nice Apperitif in a lovely small Piazza near the Castello while watching the Passageta.



The main Piazza and the Torre are linked by the main shopping street and there is something for everyone. the view from the Torre gives a great view of the town and shows how little has changed for centuries. john took a walk further up the hill to the Roman Theatre, another Castello and the church of st Pietro where the city views were stunning.


 we secured tickets for the Opera in the arena the next night and dined at the famous restaurant Tre which has been operating for over 500 years apparently and the food and atmosphere was fantastic. Even though madame Butterfly would not be our choice it was still world class production and an amazing spectacle and experience, that was until it started to rain towards the end and that was that for us.



we slept in and had to move fast to get out of the hotel and we were off onto the motorway before hitting traffic jams!! But once clear it was a lovely drive up the valley to the Dolomite mountains. the winding road to the Val Gardena was very picturesque and arriving in Ortisei we were struck by how amazingly clean everything was. It must be the fact that this was an Austrian town called St Ulrich until after the WW1 and its populations still has the Austrian efficiency about it.


 We took in the town after settling into the Hotel Adler health retreat and had a rest in the lovely room before enjoying a fabulous 5 course meal at the hotel which was booked as half board so it was going to be food overload for a few days. We took the cable car up to the first raised valley and wow what a sight was opened up before us. This was more than we expected and the green fields and snow capped rocky peaks were spectacular. We just were in awe and stayed up in the valley for most of the day taking it all in.


 there were some great walks around the resort and the town that took us to some lovely spots to just enjoy the quietude of this beautiful location.


 It was time to head off again and we headed higher up into the Dolomites towards Canazeli and the mountain passes out to the east of the Dolomites. The scenery was stunning and the cool air of the mountains was so refreshing



After a bit of getting lost around the Veneto plains region we finally found our destination and the stunning 17th century Villa Cipriani in Asolo. The town is simply beautiful with its Castello on the top of the hill and its winding yet small streets clinging to the hillside. The old volcanic plug that is the hill of Asolo makes it very very unique in the region and therefore the views over the plains and mountains in the distance make it all the more endearing.


 The town square has a lovely lion fountain and is surrounded by great restaurants and charming civil building and Villas.



 The Hotel is pretty swanky and the dining area opening out onto the garden is the place to be seen and we had such a lovely meal there our first night whilst watching the bold and the beautiful strut their stuff around us.


The Villa on then hill intrigued us and we discovered that it was just a facade as the main villa Contarini-Collegio was actually behind the hill and was connected by a tunnel through the hillside. Such a whimsical way to surprise and trick.




 Our room was in the garden and was such a lovely setting plus the room was delightful with an amazing wrought iron bed head. we had our breakfast in the garden just outside the room and the setting was a sheer delight.


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