After landing in Milan, we rented a car and headed straight for Lake Garda (with a slight detour getting directions right!). We stayed inside the walls at Sirmione at the Hotel Grifone, directly on the lake, and across from the castle.
The castle was surrounded by a mote.
We had dinner at the Piazza, castle side, followed by our first of many gelatos. We then meandered around the town through the ancient streets, it had just turned dusk. It was Friday night, and there was beautiful choir music coming from a small 15th century church. Amy peeked in to see if there was a wedding or such, and was invited in to hear the chorale concert. As we moved quietly into the Gothic-arched church, the acoustics were fabulous. We were moved by the exquisite sound coming from this small group of parishioners, and the understated simplicity of the chapel. I noticed Jessie was brought to tears with the emotions created by the scene, a true Italian experience!
We slept hard with our window open to the lake, and the gentle waves lulling us to sleep. We awoke at first light, and watched the sun come up.
We went down to breakfast that came with our room. Unbelievable spread!
With full bellies, we started our ascent through the town up to the Roman Ruins, past olive trees and 4-foot high Rosemary hedges.
It was still early, just before 9 am., and we were some of the first to enter the ruins.
By the time we were ready to leave, the crowds were arriving. We loaded up and said goodbye to beautiful Sirmione!
We headed south toward Tuscany, stopped for lunch at Modena – famous for their balsamic vinegar. We didn’t have any luck booking an agritourismo (working farm with rooms to stay, many offering home-cooked meals from whatever is fresh) through the tourist office, so the girls chased down a wifi connection, and booked one online near Calcara.
Good job, girls!
We arrived close to 5 pm., made reservations for dinner at the farm for 7:30, which is when most restaurants open for dinner, and headed back to the small hamlet that had a tavern/gelato cafe. We were conspicuously the only women there accept for one. We ordered house wine at 3 euros each, and relaxed and unwound on the patio out front. We were not seated long, when the tattooed lady cook, possibly owner, placed a huge plate of bruschetta topped with chunked tuna, green olives, and pearl onions in front of us. We tried to explain we didn’t order it, but she waved us off. The waitress also brought us bowls of olives, nuts, and some other goodies as well. It was Saturday night, and all we could figure is it came with happy hour, or a weekend special. We tried the tuna bruschetta, not wanting to be rude, and were very pleasantly surprised at the wonderful mix of flavors. We ate it all! We got another round of house wine, and the cook brought out a different bruschetta! What a treat!
We returned to the agritourismo, Borgo del Taglio in Crespellano. We had a wonderful gourmet meal in their cozy and beautiful dining area, and the service was impeccable!
We left Sunday morning and headed for Greve in Chianti.
We were lucky as we hit the once-a-month market day in town center!
We went to the tourist information office, and booked rooms in the Antique Pasta Factory. Such an interesting building with nice deck areas, and a pool.
Across the way was a wine tasting store.
Nona watches market day from above.
We walked up to a higher viewing point near our Pasta factory.
Love the laundry hanging from up high windows.
Happy hour with local chianti on the deck.
Up at first light to see the sun come out. Very different in the quiet morning compared to market day!
Tea waiting for the sun.
Carol and I head for the cafe for hot drinks, and maybe a croissant. Amy and Jessie go take hot showers as the dawn was a little chilly…….
It seems many of the locals stand, drink their espresso like shots, and eat their pastries. Carol and I watched from the comfort of a table in the back.
The light is caressing the town now.
We peek in the bread bakery…..busy with production!
The neighbors have hung their laundry and we can see it from our room.
Doesn’t Carol look spiffy with her new “pocket” scarf?
We hit the local butcher, and got some goodies for breakfast on the deck.
We decide to trek up to a nearby castle, and do lunch.
Greve starts to diminish as we climb steadily up hill.
We pass vineyards and olive groves.
We made it! Montefioralle is where Amerigo Vespucci’s family is from.
Ahhhh, lunch at Taverna del Guerrino, spectacular views! We got here just in front of the lunch rush.
We stroll around the rest of the sights inside the castle walls.
We decide to take the “scenic route” back, completing a circle.
West side of the castle.
We pass a wine tasting in a nearby vineyard.
Olive grove in foreground.
Luckily, we met Bridget and George from northern England. They had much better maps than we did, thank goodness. They were on a walking holiday, and did 14-22 kilometers a day!
Our total trip, according to Amy’s app that marked her steps, was about 6.5 miles. I’m thinking 4 miles up hill, and 2.5 down!
Tuesday morning at the cafe. We decide to shop the town today.
We met this artist in a very interesting gallery. His name was Khosrow Salehi. We all bought prints, and Carol bought a painting. Like we need more art…….but his was special.
We walked across the river, and paid homage to the statue depicting Gallo, the symbol of Chianti.
We are leaving beautiful Greve, and will be heading south deep into Tuscany next. Part 2 coming up next, as time allows, so stay tuned!