Romance seems to come effortlessly to Italy. I never really understood why. But there is something about the generous, sweeping hand gestures and conversations – that so often sound like arguments, but which are more often than not just full of Italian passion – that makes me feel lighter and more at ease.
Sitting by Lake Garda, sipping on my beloved cappuccino on an exceptional summers morning, one of my favourite Ludovico Einaudi’s songs started running through my mind. Moments of silence were quenched by the gentle crashing sound of small waves hitting the narrow pebbled beach, and the occasional ‘BAbadabada BADADADAda’ conversations of couples walking by or cyclists shouting at each other in conversation, as they cruised along the busy lake road. I fell deeply in love with Italy for the first time many years ago. And yet every time I revisit, Italy manages to ‘woo’ me again.
My first impression of a town in the northern part of Lake Garda a few years back was disappointing. This year, we stopped for a few nights halfway up the east coast, en route to the Dolomites. The little apartment we stayed in was a very lucky airbnb find and I can only but recommend this delightful little stretch of the lake. The only thing that separated our apartment from the lake was the road. Each morning – pre-breakfast – our sleepy heads were awakened by a dip in the clear waters of this huge expanse.
There is a walking / cycling track that runs long most of the lake and is a wonderful excuse to amble along this stretch of lake. You can sip on a velvety cappuccino for €1.80 and dine on €8 pizzas by the lake, with views you would usually pay big €€ for.
We drove 10 minutes up the coast one day to town of Malcesine. First impressions are a busy and touristic town (from here you can take the cable car up to Monte Baldo). But beyond the hustle and bustle of the main road lies narrow and twisty cobbled streets, leading down to the edge of the lake, intertwined with small cafes and pizzerias. A well-dressed man stands by the edge of the water, his fingers alive and dancing on the strings of his darkly tanned violin. Olive trees fill literally every void. Brightly coloured flowers overload the balconies of every. single. house. Sensational!
The hills above the lake are home to many ‘agriturismo’s’ – usually family run farms, producing their own (though not limited to) wine, olive oil, grappa and honey. The couple who ran our airbnb, also play a large part in helping their family’s agriturismo, and they invited us for a glass of home-produced wine. Did you say wine? We are on our way! A short 40 minute drive up in the hills above Lake Garda, and we arrived at this family friendly, beautifully located agriturismo. We were served with a platter of cheese and nibbles, and some of the best rose I have ever tasted.
‘We’ll take a box of 6 thanks!’
‘That’ll be €20’.
Oh, Italy. You’ve done it again.