Gardaland Sea Life is a proper aquarium hosting all types of fish and aquatic creatures. For us it was not as entertaining as we thought it might be. It didn’t take us very long to get through the building, and we still felt that it took a little too long. We were getting bored in the end. But the surrounding area quite made up for it. The building seen from the outside was rather stunning.
First time I was in Bibione was in 1990. It was our first time in Italy and I was only five. I remember loads from the time there. “Italia ’90” – the FIFA world cup (football, yes) was going on at the time. Italians took football crazy to a whole new level. I’ll never forget.
I remember some of the people we met. Some of them we still keep in touch with and visit every time we’re in Italy. Some were my brothers’ summer flirts, and probably people they never want to be reminded of ever again. The ice-cream, the swimming pool, the food, the heat, the beach, the sea. It was fantastic.
One other thing that clearly stands out is the funfair. I went back some time, probably in the mid nineties, and this year I returned again. And it had not changed a bit! This time I was standing in the shadow of my Son. It was fantastic! He’s younger than I was when I was there for the first time, so he didn’t care as much for the same rides that I simply loved, at age five. I was a little too handicapped to be able to try anything much, but I had my camera with me and stood cheering on the side. I also walked around and had a look, breathing in the same smells from years gone by and noticed details from a world preserved for decades.
On the eastern hillside of Lake Garda is a small family-run hotel called Due Leoni. The hotel is one big house, looking more like a large privately owned house than a hotel from the outside, but divided into smaller flats that are rented out. We stayed here for three nights, in a perfect, small two-bedroom flat.
The property is framed by neatly trimmed bushed and wrought iron fences. Inside the garden is well taken care of with flowers blooming, green grass and a pool that was just the perfect size and temperature. Furthest from the entrance gate, and on one side of the pool is a small field of olive trees. Across the road and beyond the small parking lot the olive trees continued.
We slept in in the morning. The sun rose late behind the mountains behind the hotel, but soon covered the area in splendid sunshine. Our flat was built so that no sun shone directly into it until late in the afternoon, making the living room/kitchen an invigorating hide-out from the fierce Mediterranean sun. As soon as we were up in the morning, one or two of us walked the few minutes down to the small supermarket to buy fresh bread. Cheese and ham was also cut and weighed while we watched. We ate the breakfast outside while watching the splendid view of the lake and waiting for the sun to reach our table. Soon as the food was gone we walked the few metres over to the pool where we spent hours every day. Sunbathing, swimming, fooling around in the pool and water-gun fights in-between the olive trees kept all three of us busy well into the siesta hours. At siesta the pool was closed and we returned to our flat. Another small and simple meal awaited before we either took a walk down to the lake or collapsed and fell asleep on the sofa or a cool bed, before the rest of the day was spent in and around the pool. In the evening we ate at the local restaurants, freshly caught fish from the lake, or a simple and delicious Italian pizza.
The stay in Brenzone was pure heaven. Husband and I loved it, and Son had the time of his life. He enjoyed the stay in Brenzone far more than the stay in Gardaland resort. We had time for each other, time to enjoy life and time to live. These days we reminisce while eating green salads with italian prosciutto sprinkled with olive oil made from the olives from the garden of Due Leoni.
(I absolutely recommend this hotel – check it out here)
After a few days near Gardaland we travelled further north along the Garda lake up to Brenzone. Brenzone consists of many small villages and we stayed in Magugnano. A very picturesque village with tall mountains running steeply down towards the lake. I was in heaven. Clear mountain air, a crispy greenish-blue lake, fresh locally grown fruit everywhere, and the temperature was just perfect.
We stayed at a hotel called Due Leoni (I’ll come back to that in a later post) where the olive trees grew everywhere around us. We had five minutes to walk down to a small supermarket, where we bought breakfast every day. Giant hams lay on display in a cooler, and were sliced while we watched. Every day started with freshly baked rolls (perfect, but they could have substituted some of the white flour for some whole grain…) and a variety of Italian delicacies; prosciuttio di parma, prosciutto cotto, salame.
In the middle of the village was a small market. I believe this was only open once a week, but we were lucky enough to stumble upon it while out walking. I bought kilos of apricots and nectarines grown in and around the village. They were recently harvested and a kilo worth of fruit often included a small twig or two, and at least a few leaves from the trees; exactly the way I like it! There were all types of vegetables and fruits sold, and these made me dream of spending a month in the area, having time and the utilities to cook every meal from scratch using the best of produce.
The village was vibrant and full of life, as were the surrounding hills. It was a little magical walking in the streets looking at everything around us, knowing that the same streets had been roamed for centuries. Evidence of the long history of the village was found in shape of a small church adjacent to the market square. Murals inside it were about 800 years old, and apparently the church had been built on top of an older church. Every small village in Brenzone had a similar story to tell, all stretching back many centuries, making the area so much more than a gorgeous, adventurous tourist magnet.
The two hotels mentioned in this post were Annia Park Hotel near the Marco Polo airport in Venice. The other was Gardaland resort, connected to Gardaland, which is (if I’m not mistaken) the largest amusement park in Italy.
Annia Park Hotel is absolutely recommendable. It is a bit pricy, but if you arrive in the middle of the night, like we did, and want a comfortable room, guaranteed air condition, and a good breakfast, then this is a good place to stay. It’s very close to the airport with free shuttle going back and forth, but is situated otherwise a bit in the middle of nowhere. I would never stay for a length of time, but for one night it was absolutely perfect!
Gardaland resort had a very cool pirate-themed room, but except for that we didn’t really like it all that much. The hotel has an outside pool (where we all had to wear swimming caps), which is fun for kids and adults alike, but the entertainment planned for kids was much too late in the evening for small “jet-lagged” Norwegians who normally put the kid to bed around 7; the show didn’t start until 9pm. The food was also very good, both the breakfast and the dinner buffet were absolutely recommendable, but as pricy as the rest of the hotel. If planning to go to Gardaland I would next time stay somewhere else.
Imagine being three. The most exciting thing in life is pirates and swords. Several times a day you sing sea-shanties and talk about pirates. Your parentes have been talking quite a lot about Italy. They say something about going on holiday there. It’s supposed to be warm and there are pools in which you can swim, and you can also swim in the ocean. It all sounds a bit odd, you’re not sure if you like it being warm, and swimming in the sea or in a big pool sounds a little scary. It’s been two years since last time you were by the Mediterranean, and although you remember some things about visiting family in Spain, most of it is at best a blur.
Italy is supposedly quite far away. You can only get there by plane, or by driving for days. We are flying this time. You have flown before, but that too is quite some time ago. It feels like it’s the first time. Before the first flight mom and dad are quite nervous. They’re not sure how you will react. Your calm nature surely have them amazed. You’re a little excited when the planes takes off, but by the time the plane reaches travel height, you are so calm and quiet it seems like flying is something you do every day. You’re a perfect little gentleman for the entire flight, and also for the second flight, and the third. During the second flight nobody understands what you’re saying, so you pick up a few foreign words. “Danke” and “tschüss” makes the flight attendants smile. During the third flight they speak another foreign language, you quickly pick up “grazie” and “ciao” and end up getting extra service and the double amount of snacks from the flight attendants.
It’s midnight by the time we get to the hotel. Since the south of Germany you’ve only seen large airports and dark skies. You wake up in a strange room. It’s cool and quiet and rather dark, but as soon as the door opens you’re blinded by the bright light. Outside terra cotta red, dry earth dominate the picture before you. It’s warm and a t-shirt and shorts are perfect. Downstairs someone has made breakfast for us. Much of the food is quite similar to that at home, but yet slightly different. A couple of women hustle back and forth out of the kitchen, both smiling, touching your hair and talking to you every time they pass. You smile back, say “grazie” and smile. The attention is fun, but there’s very little else to see and do at the hotel. Mom and dad find a car, not at all like the one at home. You prefer the one at home. The car seat is too small and you can’t see anything out the window. You quickly fall asleep.
The next thing you know you’re outside a big, lemon coloured building. After a bit of waiting while dad talks to some people a man carries all out luggage onto a golf cart. He talks to you, but you don’t understand anything. You smile and say “ciao”, that always make them friendly. Sitting between mom and dad the man drives to a different part of the big building. Carries all the suitcases into a lift, pushes a button and leaves us there with a quick wave with the hand, a smile and a friendly “ciao”. The lift moves and takes us to a floor higher up. Dad unlocks a door using a card and opens the door for you. You don’t expect much and walk in with calmness and quiet curiosity. Mom and dad wait by the door, looking at you, waiting for a reaction. You stop in the middle of the room. Your gaze travels from one corner to the next, until you have taken in every detail of the room. “Oi!” you say, suddenly and turn around to look at us. “It’s a ship”, you gasp, “we’re living in a ship!”. “There are pirates in Italy too!”
We have returned home to where we all fluently speak the language after having spent two weeks in Italy. Husband’s been here once before, I’ve been there about 15 times, while Son has his heart set on returning for a second time. We return home with a suitcase full of memories, a slight tan, and an improved Italian vocabulary.
We spent a week by the Garda Lake (Lago di Garda) and then a week in Bibione; a small town some kilometres from Venice. The first week we spent alone, just the three of us. The second we were joined by my entire family. My father just turned 60 and invited all children and grandchildren to spend a week in Italy.
We have had tons of fun, eaten well, and spent the most part of every day outside in the sun. Perfect temperatures of between 25 and 30 degrees have truly set the mood. More to be told in the days to come. Enjoy the summer!
I’ve been quiet for a while. My body decided to improve my immune system by downloading and installing an immunity to this year’s flu. Unfortunately, what the body did not consider was the length and difficulty of the installation process and the fact that in order to install this immunity the body needed to suffer a proper virus attack first. Consequently I have been out for more than a week, first with the flu and now with sinusitis.
I like to push myself when feeling weak, but this time my body has spoken clearly: I have not been able to do anything! So it’s been a progess of panicking for the first few days about everything I should have done and now failed to do, to accepting the virus and succumbing to its effect, and then to relax and give my immune system time to work. Now I expect to be back on my feet in a few days’ time.
The best cure now seems to think a bit ahead. I have many things I look forward to, but what especially works wonder against headaches and stuffed noses is the summer holiday. My father is turning 60 and has invited his four kids, and our partners and kids, to celebrate him in ITALY! Our extended family will spend a week together near Venice, at a hotel by the beach in each our flat. Perfect! Husband, Son, and I have decided to go to Italy a week before the rest to travel around a bit. I haven’t been to Italy now for four years, last time was our honeymoon, but this will be my tenth time (or thereabout) in the area.
Our fortnight in the sun will be perfect! One week by the beach and the Adriatic sea, a few days in Gardaland (a large amusement park), and a few days in a lazy, Italian, small town called Benzone. I can’t wait!
(The photo was stolen from maps.google and is from Brenzone)
Stan at Sentence First just posted a list of interesting links. One of them brought me to an article on Venetian. I was immediately fascinated by the subject, maybe it’s because of my interest in Scots, which also opens for a debate on whether it is a language or a dialect.
I have, as mentioned earlier, spent many summers in Italy. These have been spent in the area around Venice, and I have also visited the city itself multiple times. I also have friends from the area, and language has been discussed on more than one occasion. However, I have never once heard anyone mention Venetian. Neither by name, nor has anyone mentioned a dialect different to the one I have heard.
The story of a variety (always the safe word to use) that has developed independently from Italian for so many years, and still hold such a strong position as the article claims, is an astonishing story. I have noted the name of the book written by a scholar at the University of St Andrews (which the article is based on) and will try to find time for it sometime. For now I’ll just share the story with you, and hope that I might get some information for free (maybe you’ve already read the book? I f you have any knowledge of Venetian at all, please, do share!)