A few weeks ago Chris and I were lucky enough to join my parents on part of their Italian adventure. We flew into Milan late Wednesday, or rather very early on Thursday, and made a quick beeline for the hotel. We had a sleepy but excitable hello followed by a much-needed sleep. The goal was to set off for the road trip by midday, so we made a swift stop at the Duomo followed by some serious power shopping by Mum and I. Being in a long distance relationship with your family means you get really great at making the most out of the time you do have. We’re practically professionals at this point. We had a delicious lunch at this amazing deli my parents had found a few days ago before hauling ourselves to the car rental shop. Before you could say ‘arrivederci’, we were on the road. With my Dad at the wheel and Chris as navigator I promptly fell asleep in the back, awakening just outside of our destination.
We were staying on Lake Garda in a small town called Torri del Benaco, surrounded by mountains and confronted with unobstructed views of the water throughout. Mum, as always, had meticulously researched everything and we arrived to the most stunning airbnb with a view that seemed as though it had been painted on. We speedily settled in, as before you could say ‘espresso’ we were back on the road again, hunting down a small church in a tiny village where my sister and her choir happened to be performing as a part of their European tour. Coincidence or well planned family vacation? Who can tell. The town we were in was very empty so we grabbed a quick dinner at the only place we could find before heading to the church to wait outside for the concert. And wait we did. We ran into another chorister who had come to Italy on a later flight and the chaperone that had picked him up, but still there was no sign of the rest of them. Then we realized we were in the wrong town. So the 6 of us piled into the car with a grown man in the trunk, as you do, and drove the 15 minutes to what felt like a church in the middle of nowhere. Thankfully we made it just in time and quietly snuck in to catch the show. They were great, as always, and seemed to be a big hit with the crowd. We had a quick but joyful reunion with my sister before driving ourselves back to our perfect apartment. Not before we missed a turn and we ended up driving over some mountains. In the dark. On what felt like a bike path. It was an adventure. And also the moment I added precipitous roads onto my list of things I’m afraid of.
The next day we took a ferry over the lake to Salò where we had a yet another delicious lunch overlooking the water. Chris and I had booked a boat tour of the lake and it was here where we set off. The tour was brilliant and definitely something I would recommend. The captain was a fantastic guide and the boat journey was beautiful. The views of the lake were dazzling and I couldn’t help but feel like James Bond was going to pop out of one of the other boats on the lake. We filled the rest of our day with what had quickly become a custom for us in Italy; as much gelato as we could handle and many a chat over many a glass of wine.
We had amazing weather the whole time we were there and Saturday was no exception. Without hesitation we grabbed our towels, and factor 50 sunscreen as we’re all super white, and drove to the beach. Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy and the only reminder that it’s not the sea is the constant presence of ducks and swans floating along the shore. We braved the stone beach, which is not fun when you didn’t bring water shoes, and my dad lovingly filmed a very expletive filled video of me attempting to come out of the water and over the rocks onto my towel. We joined the ducks and splashed around before having yet another wonderful meal next to the water. That evening Chris and my Dad shared a bottle of wine, limoncello and danced the night away to the sounds of a band playing below our apartment, while Mum and I planned for breakfast the next day as we knew they would need a lie in.
On Sunday Mum and I headed to breakfast, taking every chance possible to walk along the lake and enjoy the view. We wandered under the bougainvilleas, watching dogs nipping in and out of the open church doors. When we came back the men folk were surprisingly chipper and we all decided to make the hour journey over to fair Verona (where we lay our scene). We saw Juliet’s balcony, the only packed and touristy part of our trip, before wandering around the city, avoiding as many main streets as possible. It was great to see a bit of Verona although we were all thrilled to get back to our part of the lake and all its magnificent vistas. For our last dinner we dined on bits and pieces we’d picked up from all over the town before heading out for a moonlight gelato and one last walk through the beautiful streets.
The next morning my parents drove us to Verona train station where we said our goodbyes and see you soons, before taking the train back to Milan to catch our flight. The goodbye was as horrible as ever, but definitely softened by the warmth that I think we all felt after such a perfect few days away. So with hearts full and stomachs even more so we bit Italy goodbye for now.