Summer Fun in Lago di Garda
It had been one hell of a year so far... life seemed constantly a-knockin'... and Summer hadn't answered our calls... so, when it was time to pack up and head down to Italy for some sun and relaxation, nothing could stop us... not even the other thousands of Europeans hitting the Autobahn!
Our destination? Lago di Garda, the largest lake in Italy, and not our first visit to this sometimes bustling, sometimes sleepy region.
A little birdie told us of a wonderful, travelling market that happens every Thursday in the town of Toscolano-Moderno. On other days, this market (that showcases local meats, fresh fish, vegetables, honey, and much more) continues onto other towns along the coast. Seriously, we could do a week's worth of food shopping (everything was insanely big!)... and everything tasted so good!
|Salami, Salumi, and other Savories|
|Look at the sizes of the cheese!|
|Can't beat freshly picked fruits and veggies!|
|Must support the bees!!|
So, after we stuffed ourselves for a few days with really good food, it was time to get a move on. Auntie Phia and I had an "older girls' excursion" to the town of Brescia. I only knew of Brescia as a town I passed along the highway to Milano. But, apparently, I should have known more about this town in the Lombardy Region of Northern Italy.
Situated at the foot of the Alps and between Lake Garda and Lake Iseo, Brescia is the fourth largest city in Italy. And, I called it a town!? Founded over 3,200 years ago, Brescia was, and still is, an important regional center since pre-Roman times. There's some serious history to be discovered here... and, I'll probably need a decade of my life to explore it all! History is everywhere!
|Brescia Duomo Vecchio|
One of the most important examples of the Romanesque round church in Italy is the Brescia Duomo Vecchio.
|Interior - Brescia Duomo Vecchio|
Brescia also contains one of the best-preserved Roman public buildings in Northern Italy. The Capitolium of Brixia was erected in 73 AD and today is presented by fragmentary ruins, along with an ampitheater and a museum.
|Capitolium of Brixia|
I could not get over the grand scale of these ruins. What is seen in the photo as white is the original marble, the bricks are the modern day preservation methods. A lot of it was lost... but even from what remains and the additional bricks, it's still quite remarkable... how did they move all of this marble?!
Another thing that was quite interesting about Brescia - it felt like we had the inner city all to ourselves. Gone were the throngs of tourists (they were probably all in Venice or Milan or further south) and, since it was August, the locals seemed to be off on their summer vacations, too! We had the best of both worlds - able to visit landmarks and linger as long as we wanted and there were no lines to anything! Even these two pigeons found a quiet spot to just waste the day away!
Next stop, we hit the Santa Maria Giulia Museum Complex (City Museum).
If you ever plan to visit this museum with its 14,000 square meters displaying the history of Brescia's history, art, and spirituality from pre-historic times to present day, there are two things I definitely suggest - the Winged Victory statue and the Domus dell'Ortaglia.
|Very well preserved Roman living quarters|
After all of this cultural stimulation, it was time for a day excursion of food and relaxation! Auntie Phia took us to an idyllic peninsula jutting out into Lake Garda - Parco Baia Delle Sirene. Although we didn't make it this time, note to self, we must come back here for a day of fun and sun for the girls!
Instead, we continued on towards the tip of the peninsula to the Locanda San Vigilio where I had a great Vitelle Tonnato. And while this dish isn't the most visually exciting, if you are a true tunafish sandwich lover like I am, then this dish is incredible!
Our last excursion of the vacation was to Sirmione, another peninsula/island jutting into Lake Garda. The first traces of human presence has been dated to 6th-5th Century BC. Wow. Today, the town is a bit overly crowded with tourists - plan your trip around the high season if you can. It feels like a mini version of The Magic Kingdom. People begin parking for miles outside of the entrance and make their way on foot.
But, really, once you get inside and make it to the top of the Scaliger Castle - the view is quite nice!
Back to our quiet, sleepy towns of Gargnano and Villa, we were quite happy to kick off our shoes and wind down the day with some gelato and some fun with the duckies before preparing for our return to our real lives. Thanks to Auntie Phia for sharing her Summer vacation with us and for the memories!
|Farewell, Summer 2016!|