Italian Tour, Sept 2003
This was a hastily planned tour, after some other plans fell through and we realised that the end of the summer was approaching. In the few days of planning, we decided that the Italian trip was to include a visit to Perugia, an ancient hill town in Umbria that Norma had enjoyed decades ago and some time on the coast of Tuscany. In less than 3 days, Norma searched the Internet and came up with an interesting place to stay near Perugia and a printout from a place further south in the hills of Umbria, near Campello del Clitunno. To break the journey, we decided to stay 2 nights at an old favourite hotel in Garda.
So, off we went in the car with reservations for the first five nights and hopes that, since it was already mid-September, we would be able to reserve as we went. Which turned out to be the case: in fact many tourist places were already completely deserted. Italy is a big place - our little route is shown in red on the map to the right: the places we stayed are shown as fat red dots. For the start: Garda above the "V" of Venice, Perugia left of Assissi, Campello del Clitunno below Assissi. So Saturday, 20 Sept 2003, we packed leisurely and made the 6 hour drive down to Garda at the South end of Gardasee. It was a warm day with very clear views of the mountains all the way. We made the usual stop for panini (Italian toasted sandwiches) at Nogarendo Ovest, and arrived at "La Giotto" at 7:30 pm. The Giotto seemed almost closed for the winter! We tried a new (for us) restaurant "Al Beati", on the hillside not far from Giotto - too late to enjoy the view, the price of which appeared to be included in the bill - or was this just our first taste of Italian prices? € 58 for a simple, but good meal. (It was possible to pay &euro 400 for a bottle of wine here!)
Sunday, we repeated a walk on the slopes above Garda - one that Harald had led for the GEA in 2000. We found the start at Magugnano di Brenzone with difficulty, then climbed up through olive groves to Campa and returned down a steep path. By the lake, we stumbled on an excellent and reasonable little restaurant - Osteria "La Roche". On the way back to Garda, we stopped on way for Norma to enjoy a swim from the beach in Castelletto.
Leaving Garda, we toured the hill towns of Umbria, crossed over to Capalbio (120 km north of Rome), and revisited the Cinque Terra.
From Cinque Terra, we raced to get back to the Giotto in Garda - all Autostrada driving as we wizzed past La Spezia, Parma, Mantua, Verona - and arriving in Garda just in time to get a nice meal at "Le Rasole".
We still seemed to be following conferences around - the owner of La Giotto was happy to be (unexpectedly) almost full with people attending a conference in Verona.
After a good breakfast, we drove to the Hypermarche at Affi - we loaded up on good fruit and veg, pasta sauces, Italian wine, olive oil, soups and.. and. For a new record, we spent 180 Euros on good stuff that would last many months.
Then a weary drive in the rain - back over the Brenner, up the Inn valley and so to Munich.
Sections of the 2003 Italian tour: Umbria Capalbio Cinque Terra