Goal of the day – drive completely around Lake Garda … ~70 miles … sounds like a ‘piece-of-cake’ but factor in the roads … VERY narrow … a challenge greater or equal to “Tail-of-the-Dragon” in N. Carolina (Mel’s Biker Buds understand … 318 turns in 11 miles) … ‘get the picture?’ … FUN!
Every village having it’s own ‘character’ and endless, breathless scenic spots. We could bore anyone to tears with all the pictures we captured today. So, we want to focus on what is considered the prettiest spot on Lake Garda … Punta San Vigilio. The walk from the road is a ‘tree tunnel’ of huge cypress (approximately 90′ tall … see photo giving specs of one that was blown over Aug. 1995) … then walk the cobblestone, walled entrance to find a restaurant of tables atop the seawall that provides private docking. We had to have a cappuccino and soak in the grandeur.
Another stop of mention, Riva del Garda … northern tip of the Lake … backdrop of jagged cliffs and beaches … due to the wind currents has become a mecca for wind surfers and sailing schools … definitely a resort town.
From Riva del Garda to Tignale the road climbs to 2,000′ providing more spectacular views of the Lake. The travel guide warns the road can test even the most experienced drivers … BELIEVE THAT WARNING! … but what fun !!!
We highly recommend a visit to Lake Garda … not eager to leave.
Sorrento is a great home base to explore the Amalfi Coast. From you can explore both Amalfi and Ravello or even Positano, as well as the island of Capri. Transportation is available by either the local SITA Bus or by ferry.
The local SITA Bus runs from in front of the local train station two times per hour, head to Positano, and continue to Amalfi. From there you can connect to other cities. Tickets are euro 1,40 to 2,50 per leg, or you can get a day pass for the Amalfi Coast for euro 6 per 24 hour period.
In Amalfi the cathedral, with its distinctive stripes, was built in the 10th century, although the facade has been rebuilt as recently as the 19th century. Rest on the front steps, or pay the entrance fee to explore the interior. The charming winding streets are full of shops of all kinds, and around every corner something new to discover.
Another SITA bus takes you up the winding hillside to the sleepy town of Ravello. Here you are rewarded with sweeping views of the sea. Nearby, for a few euros explore the Villa Rufolo, and the surrounding gardens. Outdoor cafes’ invite you to sit a while and soak up the ambiance.
Getting There: Daytona to Atlanta to Paris To Florience to the Piazza della Signoria in only 19 hours, completely on schedule. Greeted by a sunny day with a high of 78.
Lodging – Relais Uffizi, right on the main square. In Renaissance times, where citizens pioneered the radical notion of self-rule! Getting to our room was a challenge: 4 bags, 50 lbs. each plus backpacks and no direct elevator to our floor. Traverse two flights of stairs, 17 steps each! Mel not happy, wants a USA chain hotel.
Off immediately to tour, and soon became aware of the World Bicyclists Championship is underway with Florence being a major point in the races (each day for a week)
The event has many tourists in town. So, we decided to stay close and visit some of the interest points on our square (plaza)
First the Palazzo Vecchio, a fortified palace once the home of Florence’s ruling Medici family, then served as Town Hall and where David (statue) stood until 1873. Today is the office of the City Mayor.
Next, walked to the Ponte Vecchio Bridge, formerly where butcher shops stood end-to-end (scraps tossed into the River Arno) then along came the Medicis and replaced the butchers with jewelry shops. This is the only bridge in Florence to survive destruction in WWII.
Savored our first Italian meal-a pizza for lunch on the main square. With our batteries recharged and off to tour the Uffizi (oo-Feed-zee) Museum, said to have the world’s greatest collection of Italian paintings. Sorry, none of the exhibits allow photography.
Restaurants open for dinner at 7 PM, we walked around shopping for a nice place, found a sidewalk “Spaghettiria” MMmmmm … then soon after seating met a cool Chinese couple at the next table (close) … on their honeymoon … she was a China-Air flight attendant (spoke good English) … don’t know much about him (no speak English, but he did understand) … they are from a rural area ~1 1/2 hours from Hong Kong … what a delight to chat with them … we all laughed a lot.
The wine & carbs plus travel got to us and we turned-in following dinner.
Arrived Sirmione (Lake Garda) midday … a paradise indeed !!! … the lake is ‘pear shaped’ … 30 miles N/S, 10 miles E/W, crystal clear water … Sirmionne is on a tiny peninsula at the lake’s south end … Auroa Hotel is very contemporary, beautiful place.
Afternoon walk Hotel to Castello Scaligero … about 20 min. … Castle built early 1400’s … originally a Roman resort, now an upscale tourist location … the sidewalk to the castle lined with roses and giant oak trees … you must cross a tiny drawbridge to pass through the Castle to the area of sidewalk cafes, jewelry shops, whatnots (China exports) & gelato stands.
Had another pasta lunch … decided to ‘take-in’ the beauty of the Lake & surroundings … sat on a bench with another couple watching the Lake … Karen soon heard them speaking English (the first we heard today) … she struck up a conversation … it’s Bob & Bobby from Marin County (north of San Francisco) … this is a very special trip for Bobby since she just “beat” lung cancer! … they’re world travelers but have been on hold for quite some time as she fought her cancer … they just finished 10 days in Rome and will go on to Venice next … they were a lovely couple to engage in an afternoon chat … they have a revised and long “Bucket List” of travel plans.
As we walked the beautiful street back to our hotel, we felt good and so very lucky to be here enjoying this day. We decided to have dinner at our hotel on the outdoor patio overlooking the Lake, and just take it easy for the evening.