Flashback: Italy 2001- Part II

Wed. Nov. 3-01:

Genoa

Back to La Spezia– on to Genoa to the port to see the fabulous “sculpture” (giant crane) by Rice. –done for ’92 Columbus Expo.

View of the ancient port of Genoa, in foreground the “Bigo”, panoramic lift designed in 1992 by architect Renzo Piano and structural engineer Peter Rice.

Coffee/lunch nearby– then on to Asti. Found Hotel Alerama 4 star– good — fourth floor with balcony (more of a business hotel but nice & with garage below). Got my hair done! They were good! Walked around the piazza– some wonderful stores. Coffee in a lovely old “bar” (and the back again later after dinner for drinks on their outside patio). Dinner at, “L’Angelo del Beato” about a block from hotel– shared antipasto of 4 elements, and I had a beef stew, Mike had chicken “cockles”.

Cell phone finally came alive! Mike couldn’t get thru to Kate/Tom but was able to call Bronwyn and asked her to email them our hotel email address. His cellphone system said international lines in Belgium not working so that’s why we couldn’t contact Kate.

Thurs. Nov 4-01:

Breakfast at hotel.

Tried Kate’s phone number again at 9:00 a.m. –it rang three times but no answer.

Today our concierge reserved an 11 o’clock appointment for us at a winery–Bersano in Alba–foggy, bit rain but we finally got there. I toured the outside museum with Mike and then to car to read. Into Alba old town for lunch at “Calissina” in a plaza, simple meal inside– the coffee outside. Back to Asti & walked to cathedral & around.

“Francese” restaurant (pizza/Italian) we ended up having dinner. Good. Back to hotel & total frustration trying to reach Kate.

Friday Nov. 5-01:

We left Asti at 10:00 a.m to go to Torino– a beautiful city. Saw a Nervi building (a mineral fair was going on).

Stresa on Lake Maggiore

On to Stresa and the Hotel La Palma in/on Lake Maggiore & it is lovely! Views overlooking the lake and islands (pool closed). Into Milan to pick up Kate & Tom at 8:10 p.m.—and we successfully did!!!! Back to hotel for bar—food, sandwiches, and drinks while Jules slept on the couch beside us. Wonderful time! (Kate gave me coffee and Belgium chocolate!)

Sat. Nov. 6-01:

Met down in dining area for breakfast at 8:45 a.m. Bit overcast but off to the village nonethless– we walk around, coffee on plaza, reservations for dinner. First we ate lunch at a cafe on a side street (bean soup, etc. Tom had boar—excellent)– back to cafe on the lake for coffee. I went to my room, laundry, read, bathed, etc. Dinner at 7:30 on the plaza “Fiorentina”. It was ok. Back to bar at hotel– Jules sleeping.

Sunday Nov. 7-01:

Awaken to rain! No sun (not this morning anyway). Off to 11 o’clock church after breakfast. Continuous and fairly heavy rain all day until around 5:00 p.m. So, in car and off to Verbana (@ 20 miles north of here).

Found a good Italian restaurant, on the water and crowded, had lunch. Back and into lounge for a couple of hours. Mike and I went for a walk. Met at 7 for dinner–up village square, behind church–“Papagallo” and it was excellent (didn’t look so good from outside). Back to La Palma lounge for farewell party–Tom, Jules & Kate off at 4 a.m. Taxi to airport. Tom and Jules leave at 7 for Antwerp and Kate on plane for London (for day’s work) & return to Antwerp about 6:30 that evening. Hugs and good bye kisses~! (We took 2 pictures).

Mon. Nov. 8-01:

Final breakfast at Hotel La Palma (next to Astoria & Grand Regina & Bristol Grand–and Stresa on gorgeous Lake Maggiore again!)

Of to ??? next.

Bergamo

Hill town—Bergamo– parked illegally near top & walked up and on Piazza Vecchio– had coffee and looked at tower/church. Lunch later at a pizza/restaurant and then on to Sirmione on Lake Garda but it was wild with tourists and you had to park and walk across a bridge for the hotels on the tip.

Keep looking– ended up in Bardolino on Lake Garda at the Hotel du Lac & Bellevue– lovely front suite with big balcony overlooking lake, best room we’ve had! Walked to (on a lovely lake side pathway) the village for dinner.

Many restaurants– many well populated with many walkers on the way– we went to a quieter one on several streets away & luckily sat under huge umbrellas because it poured for most of dinner. Charming young waiter and a pregnant waitress! Back to social drinking at the bar.

Tues. Nov. 9-01:

Verona Arena

Decided during a lovely breakfast to stay another night but will have to be moved to the front, to a separate building with a balcony and lake view. Then onto Verona (Verona Roman arena)–Beautiful city–straight to the Roman arena of the 1st century, one of the most well preserved. We stood at the top overlooking the city. Into old town– coffee by herb market and Juliet’s balcony, church and then to the river. Lunch at/on side street (pasta pesto.) also saw elaborate burial sites of a wealthy family. Back to Bardolino & Hotel du Lac & Bellevue. Room up in separate building not as nice as original. Frustration trying to get ahold of a hotel in Alitalia.

Verona Arena

Wed. Nov. 10-01:

Breakfast downstairs at the Hotel Bellevue & off to change ticket to Saturday at travel agent’s (thank God—finally.) and to reserve room for Friday night in Milan.

Then off to see an old church remodeled in the 12c. Drove to Adige Valley (towards Brenner Pass and Austria)–gorgeous mountains. Lunch in Mezzocorona (sort of formal–old woman didn’t want me to go out to terrace). Rotari champagne nearby–very unsual shape– wooden eves of building like vines. Mike toured and tasted. More mountins & castles.

Bolzano

Bolzano (Bozen) for the night at the sub-annex (at least a couple hundred years) Hotel Luna Mondschein (Hotel Luna Mondschein). Walked to the river at 6/6:30 p.m. Saw “Dolomites” and river. Back thru central old town–to church and caught 2nd half of mass. To “Tyrol” Restaurant (disappointing meal) and on to coffee with piano player on the plaza.

Thurs. Nov. 11-01:

Room chilly but not many walkers underneath until 8:00 a.m. Went to a luscious breakfast in the dining room.

Left Bolzano (after short walk at 10:15 a.m. for the Mendale Pass (hiking mt.)–bit windy but excellent mountain views. Coffee at the top by lookout. Next, on to the Tonale Pass–a real ski area –almost closed– had to backtrack to find lunch.

On to Sondrio (after coffee stop at “The Spirtiual Inn” Cafe of the Divine Comedy/Dante! We found the Alberga Della Posta Inn on Garibaldi Square & got a room with a balcony (with flags!) overlooking the square. Walked to one of 2 rivers and had a drink watching the sunset down by the station next to Nervi Street (he died in Rome in 1979 but was born here in 1892).

Dinner at Alberga della Posta–after an antipasti of foie gras that was excellent–lamb for me (surprise)–Inferno wine, excellent– finished with coffee in the bar.

Friday Nov. 12-01:

Breakfast and on to Milano– tunnels almost all the way around Lake Como. Emergency stop beside Como (bathroom) coffee “Bellano”– a lovely small town on the lake.

On to pre-reserved “Hotel Restaurant Cervo” Via di Pinedo, Somona Lombarda Malpensa (www.hotelcervo.com). Checked in–lunch a couple blocks down at, “La Quercia” with excellent wine, “Sassella ’97”.

Then to the airport to change tickets for Seattle to San Fransisco– success.

Dinner at Hotel Cervo– Oakland couple (like us) at next table– enjoyable conversation and similar experience with travels in Italy.

Sat. Nov. 13-01:

Breakfast & return car to Terminal II & then on to Terminal I for return flight home to US.

About carolinebotwin

Caroline Botwin and her husband Mike are retired educators who have always had a yen for travelling: he with a PH.D and teaching Architectural Engineering plus California wine education, and she having taught high school English, speech and drama. Both wanted to learn first hand about other cultures. While Mike predominately studied buildings and structures and met with winemakers, Caroline hunted for ancient sites and peoples. And kept journals of all their travels. Kevin Klimczak, extraordinaire, is the website designer and editor of the blogs.
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