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Thursday, 25 September 2014

Italian lakes - Hurray for Mormons! and other delights

A visit to the island of Monte Isola on Lake Iseo.

We had some good beach school in the morning, with Poppy learning about Georgian fashion as part of an extended fashion timeline project plan. Then we set off to catch the boat from the town just down the way, Tavernolo. It's always such fun catching boats! And this was no different. We sped quickly across the beautiful lake and enjoyed really not having a clue where we were going to land. Met some nice young American lads on the boat, who turned out to be mormons living in Bergamo! "Spreading the word of the Latter Day Saints" as it were. I nearly said that I had watched the Book of Mormon so I understood where they were coming from, but I didn't.

We got off at the Pescaeira stop on the island because we had heard that was where we caught a bus from to go up to the church. Well, we got off and overheard that the mormons were also planning to catch the bus so we followed them. Hooray for mormons! - we made it on to the bus, but it only went halfway. Boo for mormons.

To be fair, they had advertised that fact to us, but even so.

So we got off halfway and found that it was swelteringly hot and we had to climb to the top - about 600 feet. My it was hot! Everyone made it OK, but I'd be lying if I said it was fun. So finally we were there, and no one had to complain about being desperately tired/hungry/thirsty etc etc because we stopped for a picnic lunch just before the church. Then at last we reached the church and anticipated the delightful 360 degree views of the lake we had been promised. Two problems - the haze, and the trees. We didn't even try to go in the church, because nobody was interested. It almost makes you wonder why we had gone to such efforts to get here, huh? But this had been nothing compared with going back down again.

There was clearly marked on our map a path which would lead all the way down to Pescaeira (spelling?), but it really was nowhere to be seen. There were no more buses which would take us down, unless we waited an hour. The boat left in 40 mins, at 4.20, so we had said goodbye to that one, and planned to catch the 6.07pm. So instead of walking down a nice mountain path we set of down the road in the boiling boiling heat reflected and magnified by the tarmac and in vain still tried to find a path. We found one! It lasted for about 50 metres, then we were back on the road - argghh!

We carried on down with not only Poppy complaining about the boiling heat, but now Rosie started up, she had far more vim and vehemence in her complaints though - her hip hurt. First one, then the other. They really hurt so very much that she could hardly put another foot forwards, she said. It hurt so much it was arghh, and then very quickly it became waaaaahhhhhh. The walking waah, perfectly charming. I was holding her hand, while walking down, and making soothing noises, and we were all despairing of ever making it back down with any degree of sanity intact when suddenly behind me I saw the bright orange of.. a bus!! "A bus!" I cried, "A bus! Joe, Poppy, quick! Run! Say to the driver, Pescaira?' (spelling?!) They ran, we ran, it was the same driver!! and yes! He was going to Pesceira!! Thank the blinking lord!

We arrived back in Pescaira, in about 8 minutes, well in time to catch the 4.20! And have an ice cream first. Phew. From the jaws of disaster and all that.

Happily on the 4.20, we discovered that it stopped on the other side of the lake, and then back at several different stops on Monte Isola before finally heading back to Tavernola. At the last stop on Monte Isola the mormons got back on again! They had clearly had some cunning route down from the church and then over the island to the other side via the path thing, which we had not thought of. No ice cream shop there, though, so in many ways we were the victors - oh yes. When we pulled into Tavernola though, when they got off the boat a bus started to arrive, and they started utterly pegging it to catch the bus. Go mormons go! But the bus wasn't stopping, and it wasn't stopping! Where would it stop? Far down along the prom. Go mormons! They went, and they caught it. Hooray. Two human dramas happily resolved in one day. Presumably god's influence, or possibly Joseph Whatshisname's.

Back to Tavernola, and the only bother was that it was really too late in the day to go swimming. It had become a little cloudy, and not quite so clement. And it had been so boiling on the island!

Back to the house for diary and learning time, and then dinner for kids and Bea, but not for us, because.. major excitment... we were going to Restaurant Panoramica for dinner a deux - yey! Almost three weeks into the journey and this is the first moment we have had for just the two of us. The restaurant was one recommended to us by Cristina and only a few minutes drive away, we passed it every day on our route to the lake.

I wanted to walk there so I didn't need to worry about drinking. So we set off walking arm in arm down the road, dressed up in our best clothes, which are not very best, and he and I wearing trainers and sandals respectively, as these are our best shoes. We arrived, after a surprisingly long walk - you would have thought if we hadn't known already that today would certainly have taught us how far distances can seem when you walk them, compared to when you drive them. Well, we finally got there - perhaps 20 minutes - along the road, and I commented that it would be dark by the time we came back. D said that if we didn't get a move on it would be dark by the time we got there. It was a large open restaurant, designed to be open to the elements, but of course it wasn't tonight - there had been a little rain before we had set off. But that was nothing to the rain we had when the main course arrived..

The food was completely delicious - I had courgette flowers stuffed with minced crab for starters, mmm, and catch of the day for main course. And it was about then that arrived that the storm came - and wow! what a storm! It began to rain, and then it began to absolutely and utterly tip it down. Then came the odd flash of lightning and the occasional clap of thunder. And then came massive lightning streaks turning the whole sky a luminous lilac again and again, accompanied by the incredible constant rat a tat tat of very loud rain on very thin roof, and sudden extravagant immense drums of thunder. It was all very exciting and great fun. Of course there was the small matter of getting home to consider..

Let it be remembered that I had noticed it was also a hotel, and I suggested to D that we should stay for the night, I even went to the extent of mentioning to the owner/waitress that we had come on foot and so we wondered if perhaps they had a room and we should stay for the night. But she came back, very kindly, with the rejoinder that they would of course take us back to Fonteno when we were ready to go. Damn!

So, we enjoyed deserts and desert wine in delightful peace and harmony. Reflecting how time has flown since our adventure began.
Back to the house with a frightening lift in the brother's car - and everyone here says that I drive like an Italian? I think not! And found everyone happy and well, of course. Read a bunch of Anne of Green Gables to Poppy - such a delight to have rediscovered it, and to get the chance to do an assortment of Canadian accents! And so to bed.

Fonteno, the view from the house of Lake Iseo. Wow!

What fun to have a hammock in the garden

The view of the lake from Riva di Solto

The swans love it here too

Happy Poppy

Happy Rosie

Happy Joe

Happy me

Happy Danny

And then my Mum arrived

And she was happy too

It's always such fun taking a boat across a lake!

The Italian lakes are sooooo beautiful

Here's the island, our target

Walking our way up to the monastery on the top of Monte Isola

We've made it to the top! The relief is palpable.

Walking down through the archway

Beautiful views from the boat - look at this amazing Pirate Castle Island

The scene from the car park in Fonteno - a car park with a view indeed!

More fun messing about with boats, even if they are ferries

Poppy doing a presentation to us on her chosen subject of Georgian fashion while we waited for the ferry. Beach school in action!

Beautiful Riva di Solto - we love you! Fabulous swimming with swans and ducks, and nobody else

Yes it's lovely being on a boat

Especially when the view is so lovely

And someone even took a photo of me to celebrate (it was Joe, he's a good boy)

Amazing trompe l'oeil in the tiny town of Pisogne which had the ferry stop, and a train station too! A throbbing metropolis no less.

Gorgous views

Kids. Amazing how well they get on with there are no other friends around!

See what I mean?

The pretty central squre in sleepy Fonteno

Yes we had a wonderful time at the Italian lakes. I didn't see George Clooney, but Joe was there, which is almost as good

I sure found plenty to smile about

Happy days


  1. Hiya folks - I think I've managed to sign in as me this time. Hooray! Wonderful photos and a lovely commentary. Well done! I'd like to add that I think you had a very reliable baby-sitter when you went out for the evening (moi) and if you were satisfied with the service, I promise that, on my next visit, you can have another evening out! You'll feel quite spoilt. Btw, the mormon guru rejoiced in the name of Joseph Smith. Also on the 1000 ft high island, at the side of the church, the lovely monks had fashioned an exquisite little vegetable garden, hadn't they. As we speak, Europe has retained the Ryder cup and I'm making a cauldron full of green tomato chutney. A bientoit mes amis and love to all xxxxx :-)

  2. Hooray for Mormons! I can vouch for that having taken half a bus load of them round Europe once! I've finally managed to have a comment put on here without it being erased a second after pressing enter. Hope you're all well. Please keep up the blog! It's great. Would love to know how you get from place to place and how you found the accommodation/ where you're staying in each place. So we can go there too one day. Can you do a map of your route at all? xx

  3. Ooh have only just now (November!) seem these comments. Thanks guys! xx