We arrived in Malpensa Airport early Wednesday morning on day 1 of Italia 2013 and after an early check-in to the Sheraton at the Airport we had a little rest and a freshen up and thought a trip into Milan by train would be a good idea. Well it was if the trains were running but a good old Milano strike was on and so it was a bus through all the crazy Traffic instead.
We headed for the Duomo Piazza and The Galleria Vitoria Emmanuel for some lunch and explored the stunning arcades before a visit to the Duomo. It has been 9 years nice we were here last so it was good to see it all clean and fresh from a good scrub. The marble was shimmering in the sunlight.
We started to fade and made our way back to the bus stop via a few back streets and stumbled across some Roman ruins and a beautiful 14th Century Monastery with stunning frescos and amazing ceilings.
We booked in for a massage at the hotel which was fantastic and we are sure it helped us sleep well and adjust a bit quicker to the time/jet lag.
Day Two and it was off to pick up the Ford Focus CX and onto the crazy, busy, speedy, truck filled Autostrade to Bergamo, a simply stunning hilltop town sticking out of the Plains of Lombardy. One of the most picturesque towns you will ever see with the old upper town, Cita Alta, full of medieval gems from its Venetian dominance over many centuries and buildings dating back to the 10th century still intact.
We enjoyed lunch at a lovely cafe under an old trader’s market Loggia structure and strolled the streets taking it all in.
The Basilica Santa Marjorie and The Duomo stand side by side in the main square beside a 10th century Chapel, 12th century baptistry and Palazzo with market place below, unlike anything we have seen before.
After an eventful getting lost experience trying to exit the town to attempt a back roads journey to Lago D’Iseo we headed back to the A4 and then the Lake.The apartment we booked in Sale Marasimo was a mega disappointment, not on the Lake as we thought but across the road with traffic noise insane all day and night making the lovely sunny Terrazza impossible to use. We lasted one night and got some refund and moved into the Beautiful town of Iseo and a lovely new apartment in an old building in the old medieval section of town called Borgolago Suites.
We were able to check in at 11.00am so as it was early we got some breakfast and wandered the regular Friday markets which take over the streets in every direction, all the stalls are self contained in trucks of all sizes with huge builtin retractable awnings allowing for all weather use. We have seen these before but never like this in their hundreds.
After settling in we went a wandering again and picked up some fresh supplies from the food markets just as they were packing up. Everything is so close to where we are staying with walking promenades all along the waterfront and places to eat everywhere you look.
We are able to park the car for free in an unrestricted parking lot just 500m from the apartment which is very handy and we have a supermarket just around the corner.
The evening light around the lake is stunning and with preparations all around us for the triathlon tomorrow we grabbed a nice lounge setting and enjoyed our aperitifs as we watched the passing parade and took in the atmosphere of the lake at night.
After a good workout in a park on the Lake front this morning it’s off on a Ferry ride around the Lake. We decide to go to Monte Isola, the big island in the middle of the lake and the only signficant island in any of the Italian lakes with i’ts peak reaching 600m.
The weather is perfecto and we hop off the Ferry at Peschiera Maraglio, the islands main fishing village before taking the ferry over to the north side of the lake to get lunch at a Trattoria in Tavernola.
We head back to Iseo just in time to catch the Triathlon in full swing with over 1,200 entrants its a pretty full on 1.5km swim and then a 42km bike ride before a 10km run. We watch the bikes take off in organised chaos and after a short siesta we wander back out and riders are returning ready for the run, my god how insanely fit are these people.
Ann decided on a quiet afternoon so I headed back by ferry to Monte Isola to walk up to La Rocca the castle half way up the Monte, it’s hot and there’s not much shade but I’m up there before I know it and the vista is spectacular.
We enjoyed a lovely dinner at Trattoria Al Castello, whuch had been recommended to us, and it was just as good as promised and the gardens are just beautiful. Luckily we arrived there just before a fierce hailstorm and we got to watch it all unfold under cover. After dinner the rain stopped and we had a nice passeggiata around the town to take in the busy post race vibe.
Another beautiful day so we decided on a nice walk before breakfast along the lake front and ended up at the camping grounds near the edge of town before heading back for John to have his obligatory swim in the lake, it was refreshing and clean and no wonder they hold the triathlon here.
After a late breakfast we decided to find our way into the FranciaCorta wine region countryside just south of Iseo to visit the Castello de Bornato and Castello Passirano and meander along the back roads. But after getting lost a few times we found our rhythm and our destinations and were rewarded with a few gems and a few bottles of wine. We dropped into the L’Albereta Luxury Hotel and spa and enjoyed a tour and some lunch on a lovely Terrazza and booked in or a day spa session the next day. We found our way back without drama and decided to go for the light dinner again and enjoyed our appetitivo and Dolce at a cafe along the waterfront promenade to watch the sunset.
the Castello Bornato was more of a Palazzo than a Castello but it has a real life Contessa Orlando living there, so Fabio had to do a pose.
Our Day at L’Albereta started with a 9am brisk walk around the lanes and vineyards of the Estate and through to the local village Erbusco, along the way we stumbled upon this amazing Jim Morrison fetish Citroen parked in the vineyard lane. The walk was supposed to be 45mins but as we were the only walkers the guide took the long route and an hour and a half later. It was great walking aorund the vineyards, Villas and back lanes of places we would never normally see, it really gave another insight into Italian Life.
We arrived back to have a swim in the Hydro pool before our treatments began.The water was so refreshing and the many water jets around the pool were a perfect way to massage the muscels on the back and legs.
Water jets, mud wraps, healthy lunch and massage later we were done to a tee and it was back to Iseo passing a few significant Villas along the way and then out for dinner at a Japanese restaurant.
We went on a short tour of Iseo the next morning on our last day and picked up some good history visiting some very important Churches and The Castello .
and then it was off to Sarnico at the base of the Lake to check out the town and have some very average lunch before we decided to try our luck at circling the Lake. Well that was an experience, picturesque but hairy, winding along the cliff base on the shore in and out of tight tunnels and virtual one lane roads all the way of the very Regal looking town of Lovere at the other end of the Lake.
Our final night was another quiet one with a late stroll and nightcap down at the Lakeside to watch the passing parade.