The Beautiful Island

The Beautiful Island

Friday May 27, 2016
Lake Maggiore, Italy

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
Why not join us on our newest tour in September – Bordeaux and Dordogne?

Goodbye Lake Garda – it’s been a pleasure! We’re on our way west to another of northern Italy’s string of beautiful lakes, Lake Maggiore, where we’ll spend our remaining days. From there it’ll be an easy less-than-an-hour drive to Milan’s airport when we have to leave.
We searched long and hard for a lake-view spot and oh did we find it! Clinging to a steep hill over the village of Baveno, Fausta’s holiday apartment gives us what we’re looking for…05271601 bavenoand the view’s so enticing we don’t want to stop and unpack!  But those suitcases can wait – we’ve arrived as early as possible since it looks like today will be the only rain-free day to enjoy the lake.
Next stop, Stresa, from where we ferry to Isola Bella, the beautiful island. 05271601 easy to get to milan drive to stresa ferry to isola bellaWe stayed in Stresa a few years ago, but didn’t get to the island and today’s our chance! It’s the perfect time of year to enjoy the gardens, terracing down the islet.05271601 enter palace on one side of island gardens spread to otherThe entrance to the gardens is through the palace at the far end…05271601 entrybut it’s the Italianate garden that’s the draw, covering nearly half of the island. 05271601 lush gardens most popular tourist draw in areaThe stretch of tacky souvenir stands from the garden exit to the ferry stop detracts from the beauty of the island – look up and enjoy the architecture to avoid them! 05271601 look up to avoid disconcerting abundance of tacky souvenir standsAnd be sure to wind through the narrow cobbled lanes of the old village – 05271601 tiny island wander arounda riot of color and creativity! 05271602 adorableFrom the terrace of the palace take in the view of Isola Pescatori, with a larger town and a couple of hotels. 05271602 beyond is another islandFerrying back to Stresa, we admire the pull-up-and-eat restaurant, 05271602 boat up for lunchwhich was doing a brisk business as we strolled by, and wave farewell to Isola Bella,05271602 farewell bella indeed! 05271602 isola bella indeedRemembering the flower-lined lakeside path of Stresa from our previous stay, we enjoy it once again,05271602 stresa stroll reference previous visit blogthen return to our own bella spot for an evening apero.05271602 time for aperoThe view is as intriguing as our delicious dinner…as the lights twinkle on across the lake. 05271603 lights twinkle on intriquing funicularKirk wants to head up that funicular on the right tomorrow!
Still watching as the night darkens…05271604 enjoy the showenjoy the show!


Discovering Desenzano

Discovering Desenzano

Wednesday May 25, 2016
Desenzano, Lake Garda, Italy

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
Why not join us on our newest tour in September – Bordeaux and Dordogne?

After the stressful night and day of travel, all we want to do is relax and explore this charming town we’ve ended up in…05251602 coffee and explorewe’ll drive along the lake to see more tomorrow. We had noticed a cute coffee shop as we walked around last night, and stop by for breakfast this morning. Our two pastries and cappuccinos, relished in a cozy nook, come to a mere 5 euros – we can’t make breakfast at home for that! One of the pleasures of being in a less-discovered town!
Caffeinated, we set out to see the sights, climbing up to the castle to gaze at the lake sparkling beyond.05251602 from castleTempted by the display in Ruffino’s window on the main square, we stock up for the next few days…05251602 supplies from giovanni ruffinohome-made pastas, cheeses, salumi, a vivid bottle of orange Aperol for apertif-time, and for dessert some limoncello and a flat crunchy Sbrisolona, the almond shortbread cake we sampled a few years ago in Mantova, a few miles south of us.
Spreading the map out on the table, we plan our upcoming explorations, take a nap, then nibble some olives and nuts with our Aperol Spritzes on the garden terrace.05251603 apero in the gardenOur lazy day finishes with a lake side stroll – 05251603 lake strollthis is the perfect place to begin our Italy Lake District Ramble!

Lovely Lake Garda

Lovely Lake Garda

Tuesday May 24, 2016
Desenzano, Lake Garda, Italy

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
Why not join us on our newest tour in September – Bordeaux and Dordogne?

Arriving in Desenzano, crawling up a narrow cobbled street barely wide enough for the car til we find our apartment, we settle in and take a deep breath, so relieved to be here after what was the worst 24 hours of travel we’ve ever experienced. Our flight from Marseilles to Venice was repeatedly delayed, then cancelled (no emails or notice, we were able to find out only by searching Google flights and asking other exhausted passengers who had been waiting for hours when we arrived at the airport around midnight) and the Monday night departure turned into a Tuesday afternoon departure. After minimal communication (there were NO staff of the airline at the airport, only a company charged with caring for their passengers – each time they attempted to contact someone in the company in Spain it took forever) the airline put us up in an airport hotel  – we got to bed around 2 am.  We certainly can NOT recommend Volotea Airlines!
Picking up a car after finally landing in Venice, we made it to Desenzano, on Lake Garda, in the late afternoon Tuesday. Our spacious apartment is right in the historic center, with everything we need within walking distance. Eagerly we begin figuring out where we are, finding the main piazza, 05241601 Desenzanocrowned with a church and lined with enticing boutiques, then the picturesque port, waterside eateries doing a brisk business.05241601 portOur time-honored trick of finding a restaurant a block off of the main drag works perfectly once again – Osteria Di Vino is a little treasure!05241601 resto one block offFragrant with truffles, 05241601 truffled tartaremy tartare is perfectly accompanied with a local red.
Falling into bed after that excellent dinner, we’re so thankful to be here!


Au Revoir France,  Hello Italy!

Au Revoir France, Hello Italy!

Sunday, May 19, 2013 
Inland from Venice

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  Join us on a summer tour on the Amalfi Coast, in Provence, or in Amsterdam/Belgium

As we fly from Marseilles to Venice, we’re talking over the week in France – what fun it was to share such gorgeous places, delicious meals, interesting people and unforgettable experiences with Steve!
And now we have another tour week to anticipate, with a few days in between, during which we have a list of things to do to get ready.

Today we’ll do a dry run of the drives from our Padova hotel for two daytrips – one in the morning, and one in the afternoon, before heading for Venice tomorrow.
When we pull into the walled village of Monselice, we’re delighted to find it decked with floral displays – it’s an annual festival of flowers!  From shops and stately homes,

to the stairway of the tourist office,

to simple bridges over canals, the whole place is a fragrant garden.

The “ghost of Monselice castle” welcomes us and asks where we’re from and why we’re here. We want to know why HE is here!

Teams comprised of young and old carefully place petals and flowers along the streets,

forming a carpet down the center of the cobble- stones.

Next stop, Este, where we find a good café that will be able to serve an early (7:00 is VERY early in Italy) dinner for us before the Auryn Quartet concerts next week. We relax with a Spritz on the main square, then do a quick run through east of here along the Brenta Canal, figuring out the quirks of the route from one villa to another for next Saturday’s daytrip.

Check out this dinner – a common choice on Venetian menus, squid (in its own ink) with polenta. It tasted much better than it looks!

Dreamy Lake Iseo

Dreamy Lake Iseo

Friday, May 25, 2012
Lake Iseo, Italy

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
Join us on a summer tour on the Amalfi Coast, in Provence, or
our featured (and expanded!) 2012 Amsterdam/Belgium tour!

Shall we fly home today, Friday, or shall we spend the long Memorial Day weekend on an Italian lake? Not a very hard decision, is it?! When we were planning our trip we decided to add on a relaxing few lakeside days before returning home – easy to do with the many lowcost European airlines that are ok for a short hop. A quick flight on Wizzair from Prague to Bergamo (actually the same flight we took a couple of years ago when one of our clients wanted to add a bit of Italy to her Prague trip), and we pick up a car and drive to Lake Iseo.
Our original thought was beautiful Lake Orta, which we love, but all of the hotels were booked with wedding parties for the weekend, so we began looking for another little lake, preferably with an island view… yes, we’re picky!
Even with all of the photos and reviews available online, you never can know exactly what you’re getting until you arrive, and oh were we thrilled with where we “landed”  – Hotel Rivalago in Sulzano.

This is one place where it is absolutely worth it to book a lakeview room – the vistas are spectacular from dawn til dark.
We can’t wait to get out and absorb the beauty, and in minutes we’re relaxing by the lake.

And shortly afterward sipping our favorite Italian aperitif, citrussy Aperol Spritz.

Tomorrow we’ll ferry across and explore that colorful village on Monte Isola, today we’ll just chill right here…