Day 15 :: Venice to Montinelle (La Filanda)

The fish market at Rialto isn’t open until Tuesday, so we had to head over and catch a few looks at some obscure fish. Not a bad way to start the day, and we checked out flounder, octopus, scallops, and plenty of other obscure fish. The tuna were noteworthy in their girth.

From there, packing ensued and we hiked over to the Ferrovia (train station), boarded a train for Verona, and got out of Venice. In deciding to leave early, we certainly needed somewhere to go. That somewhere was an extra night at La Filanda, our home as of this evening. La Filanda is an agriturismo (working farm of sorts) on Lake Garda. Lake Garda is a less frequented northern lake than the famous Como, but you’ll hear more about that in coming days.

Our train dropped us in Verona and we made our way over to the Hertz office at about 12:30. And the stupid office was closed. Seriously, the midday siesta thing is a little odd regardless, but in a service/travel industry? Lame.

We had planned to head into Verona regardless, and so we used the buses instead of the cars and took a quick trip in. Verona is coverable in about 90 minutes, and we did just that, stopping for a shot of gelato as well. I liked the smaller size of the town, the Roman Arena, and my gelato by the river. I was struck by the old square. Its winged lion, acknowledging the victor Venice, was fine. But I was overwhelmed by the immense pile of junk being sold in the square again. When people complain of America’s commercialism, they need to come look at the defiling of these old squares by the sellers of crap for tourists. Jenn and I literally could not FIND the famous, 2000 year old fountain in the middle of the square because it was obscured by the “market”. God knows I should have bought the mask in Venice (where they are famous), but at least I can get it in Verona! Or probably Milan, or maybe even in Atlanta when we land.

So, Verona was fine, we bused back to the train station and loaded into the car. (Note: Renting a car seat in Italy for three days costs substantially more than buying a comparable car seat in the states. What is one to do with that fact?) We were off to the unknown… the world that was not suggested by Rick Steves, the western coast of Lake Garda.

As Jenn and I were driving along, we considered the possibilities. We could already see the massive mountains beyond the lake. They were stunning, and boded well. And then it occurred to me… were we about to head into Gatlinburg East? Why don’t American’s visit this beautiful land positioned well between Venice and Milan? Were we making a huge mistake? Was their website misleading?

As we pulled of the Autostrade at Desenzano, our fears grew. The ferris wheel was clearly visible. The mass of humanity in place. Gatlinburg it was. Jenn kept saying, “Keep driving. We could make it to Lake Como tonight. It’s only 3 more hours.” We managed to plow through the first hit of commercialism without turning around. We moved on and grew closer to La Flianda (according to the GPS). We were within 2 miles of home, and it was looking SOMEWHAT better, but we were still unsure. And then we saw it. The sign, in bold black and yellow:

<---- SEXY SHOP... Eros e Eros Uh oh. Not good at all. This cannot bode well. My fears changed from trailer parks (which we did see) to nudist camps. This was not a good sign.

The long and short of it, though, is that we were wrong to be concerned. La Filanda is pretty neat, actually. It is sort of a walled fortress of its own, including a pool, an olive orchard, and about 20 family focused apartments. Less than five minutes out the back door is a little town, complete with somewhere for dinner and a little forno (bakery, not porno). The girls got in a quick swim before the pool closed (the other guests are almost all German, complete with speedos at the pool).

Lake Garda appears to have fantastic potential. Whether we take a ferry to Sirmione or a hike to some castle ruins, we’re going to have a good time. We may even just vacation by the pool for a piece of the day. All of the options are good ones. I am thrilled to be free of the piles of people in the bizarre theme park that is Venice. I’m thrilled to see some grass. I’m really excited about exploring a part of the world that is beautiful in any language… So, I’m excited, and tired. (I am now aware that 2 weeks is the point at which I feel like I’ve been away from home for a long time.)

More tomorrow, from Montinelle.

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