Friday, June 29th
Our hotel, Villa Adriana, was fine – nothing fancy but close to the beach and had free parking, but I certainly was not sad about leaving it for our next destination – Lake Garda. The drive back down the mountain wasn’t nearly as terrifying as the drive up and the tolls were significantly less than before – further evidence that I need to dispute the charge.
We spent a lot of time looking for a place to stay on Lake Garda that was nice, on the water, easy to drive to, close to a train station, had parking and easy access to restaurants/entertainment. We finally settled on Le Ali del Frassino. Our GPS took us down some small back roads filled with vineyards and stopped on the back side of what looked like houses – no where near the mountains, no lake in sight and no town to speak of around. My stomach started fluttering, and I quickly flipped through my information looking for a different address. This was a highly rated resort hotel requiring full payment prior to arrival for a weekend stay. All the addresses were the same. We kept driving along this little road and suddenly the lake appeared to our left and then the resort came into view. This place is very nice and beautiful for sure. It’s still not in the mountains like all of the other images of Lake Garda I’ve seen, but perhaps its on a different section of the lake?
We checked into our room and make our way to the pool for some lunch and swimming. This is the view from our room.
And here is a pano of the entire view
We rested and then got ready for dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, Ardea Purpurea. The view at sunset is absurd and the food is equally impressive. We started with salmon tartar and green apples with a lemon cream sauce and some raw veggies. Then I ordered pumpkin ravioli, Lincoln had salt-crusted fillet, Tipton had pizza with brie and parma ham and Bryan had seafood pasta. We finished it off with mille feuille (layers of flaky pastry with cream and custard and berries) with berries and the kids had strawberries with cream. It was amazing.
We finished eating our feast on the lake about 10:30p and headed back to our room to call it a day. Feeling full of both delicious morsels and gratitude. We head to Venice tomorrow and meet up with the Welshes.
Saturday, June 30th
Grabbed a quick bite and headed to the train station via hotel shuttle to catch our 9:45a train to Venice. The train station is in Peschiera del Garda – about 2mi from our hotel. The day is already hot and it’s not even 10am. Not a great sign. I had a frustrating experience booking our tickets online – I selected 4 seats together and when the site issued our tickets, they were all different seats – with Lincoln and Tipton in different cars. I waited in line to speak to the ticket agent, only to have her tell me to ask someone on the train to switch because the train was fully booked and there was nothing she could do about it. Great.
So, we board the train. Bryan takes Lincoln’s seat in the first car, Tipton takes her seat in the next car, and I take Lincoln with me to the next car where there were 2 seats across from each other. As we are passing through the various cars to reach ours, the temperature is pleasantly cool. As we reach our car the temperature is oppressively claustrophobic. The train ride is 1.5hrs – not too long, but the temp will certainly effect my mood. I make it about 20min before I go stand in the cooler corridor. Then I grab Lincoln and head to Bryan’s car. Surely we can find a place to sit or stand that will be better than the 7th level of hell we are currently enduring. We find something and all is better.
We arrive in Venice and make our way to the water bus stand. The sun is blazing, and we all feel like we’re back in Texas except there are a bazillion people with large bags trying to navigate the rough terrain. We just have a day pack! Tickets in hand, we head to the line to get on the bus. It’s long. We wait through 4 full water buses (about 45min) in the scorching heat before we finally got on one. We were like cattle herded into slaughter stalls. So crowded and so hot.
We get off at Rialto bridge and walk the rest of the way to meet up with the Welshes for lunch. Their next door neighbor’s sister lives in Venice and owns a restaurant with her Italian husband. Al Covo. Fantastic service, wonderful food and great company! Their attention to detail with leather embossed napkin rings and menus, hand-blown glasses, decor, quality ingredient selection and food presentation were all top notch. Diane, originally from Lubbock, met Cesar in Austin in 1981. They married in Austin and moved to Venice. They opened Al Covo in 1987. Their 26yr old son works in the kitchen with her husband and Diane makes the desserts. They couldn’t be nicer, and it really was an oasis.
Refueled, we made our way around Venice. We hit San Marco Square, Doge’s Palace, Bridge of Sighs, Rialto Bridge, lots of window shopping along all of the various off-shoot street, some actual shopping and finally a gondola ride before catching our train back.
I wish we could have stayed for dinner, but the last train for our destination left at 8:15p, so we said goodbye to the Welsh clan, again, until Milan and the flight home. Despite the heat, it really was a fantastic day. We made it back, after having to sprint across the platform for our Verona transfer, just in time to grab some dinner before the kitchen closed.
Sunday, July 1st!
We spent the entire day laying by the pool, reading, eating, drinking, watching the Spain & Russian world cup match – what an upset that Russia defeated Spain – and then packing up for our departure tomorrow. One last dinner in the fantastic restaurant and last views over the lake. Great and much needed R&R for the whole family!