Moving day…Holiday Day 6

Not a terribly successful day in some ways…

We decided to have a look around Miasino, the village just above the B&B, before we went and to visit the botanical garden there. After wandering around for a while, trying to find the botanical garden, we eventually discovered it was closed until the afternoon.

As we were heading for Turin, we thought it best not to wait, and set off for the big city. It only took a couple of hours to get there, so having sussed out where (we thought) the next B&B was, we headed into the suburb of Turin called Moncaliari above which the AirB&B was situated.

We found a nice little restaurant for lunch: I had home made pasta with a simple tomato sauce, and Mr FD had a meat-and-cheese platter. We arranged to meet the owner of the place at 15h, so we drove up to where we thought it was, and waited in the car. After a while a suspicious woman came out and asked what we were doing. With a mixture of French, Italian and English we worked out we were in the wrong place, despite the sat nav telling us we were in the right place. After a bit of faffing, we found the farm, and Nicola, our host. We put our stuff in the room and decided to go to Asti, the centre of sparkling wine making…

The trip wasn’t successful. Mr FD was tired and hot, and didn’t feel like looking round the city so was grumpy. After about 30 minutes we admitted defeat, called in at a supermarket to buy some wine and went back to Moncalieri. Dinner was in a sweet little restaurant with a tiny terrace, where I started with caremalised cheese

Not a good photo, but the cheese was delish!

Then we both had a sort of leek flan with a creamy sauce

and then a very enjoyable dessert, which I can’t remember, and forgot to take a photo of!

Then up the long and winding road to the farm. The family were having a birthday party, so it was a bit noisy, but we didn’t mind; it was an exceptional circumstance, so we wished Papa Buon compleanno which pleased him, and went to bed with ear plugs in!

 

Advertisements

Speed King!…Holiday Day 5

Thursday 6th Sept

Mr FD wanted to do another ride, over the mountains between Lake Orta and Lake Maggiore, so I said I was happy to go back to Stresa to do some shopping and look around the town a bit more. So he set off, and I followed about half an hour later. I found a parking spot and walked into town. I’d just had time to start browsing, when I got a text saying Mr FD was back at the car. WHAT?! I’d hardly got started!!!

So my shopping was curtailed very abruptly, and I went back to meet him. Just in time, as the rain swept in. We had a picnic lunch, so decided to see if the weather cleared as we drove to Mottarone – a 1491m high mountain, offering views of seven lakes. While the clouds denied us views of all seven lakes, we certainly could see four or fiv

.

And on the top of the mountain was Alpyland

a kind of cross between a Big Dipper and a bob sleigh. The rider has control of the speed, as there is a lever that acts as both brake and accelerator, so you can decrease speed if you’re scared. We both went on it, but I have to admit it wasn’t my cup of tea at all! Mr FD loved it however, and had another go.

He said he went faster the second time round! Having got a taste for speed, he then decided to ride down from the top of the mountain. So he got back into his cycle gear, and off he went.

I followed in the car; I went at a speed I felt comfortable with on the mountain road, and I didn’t catch him up until we were very nearly back at the B&B. I overtook him with about a kilometre to go, and he had caught me up again before I had finished parking the car! He did an average of 37.5 km per hour! Speed King, indeed!

After showering, we headed back to the village of Orta SG again. We called in to see Dario, the owner of the B&B, in his gallery Oot and admired his work. He & MrFD talked about prog rock, a shared music passion, while I looked around the gallery. We then walked along the lakeside in the evening light, Mr FD taking lots of arty shots of boats and views.

This was my effort at an arty shot

We then headed to a rather posh hotel to have an apero on the lakeshore…

A Bellini for me, a beer for Mr FD, and some tasty snacks too.

and then went to have a lakeside meal in a very nice restaurant.

We had a shared charcuterie plate, and then I had Osso Bucco, with saffron rice, which was delicious, but very rich!

We then had a last gelato from the very good artisan gelato shop. I was persuaded to try a boule of what I think was bilberry, and the gelato man (gelatoteer?) suggested a creamy cream flavour to go with it. It was good, but maybe not my favourite. Mr FD had Cheesecake flavour.

Not my hand. Not my ice cream. Not actually my photo!

Then back to the B&B for the last time…

Trains and boats…Holiday Day 4

Wednesday 5th Sept

We set off early to pick up a train at Stresa, which would take us to Domodossola, where we would get on the Panoramic Train. This goes to Locarno in Switzerland, at the head of Lake Maggiore, from where a boat sails down the lake, back to Stresa. We had booked each part separately, being unaware that the Maggiore Express existed, which looks even nicer than the tour we did. But never mind…

Everything went swimmingly – the panoramic train was a delight, with splendid views around every corner.

I didn’t get many shots, as there were reflections from the window, and by the time I’d realised I wanted to take a picture, the view had gone…so finally I decided to just enjoy the ride and to not worry about taking photos.

Arriving in Locarno, we hurried down to the lake side to book the boat back, and then had lunch: slightly disappointing and expensive! I had “Salad Nicoise” – basically green salad with a tin of tuna tipped onto it – while Mr FD had very stodgy gnocchi with a gorgonzola sauce. We bought a nutty cinnamon swirl from a bakery for dessert and then went up the funicular to view across Locarno.

After a walk around the heights, we descended into the town again, and spent an hour sitting in the shade on the lakeside promenade, as it was very warm. People watching and dog watching passed the time nicely, and then we went to embark on the boat.

The trip down the lake took 2.5 hours, and was very pleasant, with views on every side. However, I think I may have taken this one after my enormous gin-and-tonic apero, as I haven’t lined it up very well!!

A lot of forest and not much yacht!

All aboard the Skylark!

There was a large group of English people on the boat, so we chatted to some of them, as well as just sitting and enjoying the warmth of the sun, tempered by a breeze. When we docked in Stresa, we had a little wander round, but were getting hungry, so found a restaurant for dinner. We both had a very yummy pizza, and then bought a gelato (there’s a surprise!) I had 2 boules: melon and banana which were very pleasant. A stroll along the waterfront in the balmy evening air finished the day off nicely!

 

Garden Beauty…Holiday Day 3

Tuesday 4th Sept

Mr FD wanted to do some cycling, so he set off on his bike to ride a tour of Lake Orta. I settled down in the garden to do some reading and art work. I was joined by the house dog for a while – a rather friendly golden retriever – until he realised I didn’t have any food!

halfway round…

After Mr FD returned, we went to Omegna for a panini, and then headed to VillaTaranto to tour the gardens there. They are lovely! If you like gardens I’d definitely recommend them for a visit. Although it was quite hot, there were enough shady places to linger, and drink water.

Not my picture – the flowers were starting to fade a little by now.

    

 

After an ice cream (can’t remember the flavour) in the café we drove around the lake to Stresa, where we booked train tickets for a Panoramic train the next day. Heading home, we decided to go back to the restaurant from Sunday night.

This time I chose ravioli with spinach to start, then perch from the lake. I was rather disappointed with this, and had definite food envy, as Mr FD had chosen lamb cutlets which looked lovely. Still, the cheesecake which followed was delicious!

 

Island life… Holiday Day 2

Monday 3rd September

Today dawned bright and clear, with beautiful views from the garden of the B&B across to MonteRosa, the second highest mountain in western Europe

Breakfast was filling and delicious – freshly squeezed orange juice, bread, cheese and local salami, local yoghurt and jams, with a home made cake as well, should you want it. Coffee, and a wide selection of tea as well. We were set up for the day! We decided to explore the village of Orta San Giulio, and the lake, which weren’t far away.

We parked in the car park at the top of the hill into the village, and made our way upwards to the “sacred mount” – dedicated to St Francis, this sacred mount houses many chapels showing scenes from the saint’s life. The wikipedia page gives a few more details. It was a very pleasant shady walk around, but we didn’t visit many of the chapels, as I found the scenes, with their rather dusty, lifesize figures, slightly macabre.

 

There were beautiful views across the lake and down to the island of San Guilio as well (this island features in many, many photos that I took!!)

After about an hour’s wander, we felt it was TFAB (Time for a beer) so we made our way down the cobbled streets to the waterfront piazza in the village. On the way down, we met a great deal of visitors puffing their way upwards to the mount.

“Is it much further?” they gasped.

“About 300 metres uphill,” we replied, smugly, as our parking place had meant we’d not had such a difficult walk, as we’d been about halfway up the back of the mount before we started.

On the way down we came across this rather lovely statue of St Francis (my sister said it looked like he was morris dancing!)

We found a bar right on the waterfront, and ordered a beer. This came with crisps and a plate of snacks – tiny sandwiches, sausage, cheese etc. We debated whether to eat it, not knowing whether it was free (highly unlikely) or to be paid for, but decided we would eat it as an early part of our lunch, before going on a boat to the island. On paying the bill, we found that yes, we did have to pay for it, but that it wasn’t very expensive – and it kept us going until our late lunch.

We took a boat trip out to the island, on which is a monastery and some rather expensive looking houses…

It was relatively peaceful there, despite all the tourists chattering away as they strolled round the streets. It took about 30 minutes to complete a tour of the island, and then we got the boat back to Orta St Giulio

.

After a picnic lunch at the side of the lake we went for a drive around the lake, stopping to take photos, and to have our first gelato. I had lemon, but I can’t remember Mr FD’s flavour.

Happy Birthday, Mr FD

Same island, different angle!

After a rest back at the B&B, we went back into Orta SG for pizza night…

Charcuterie plate and mixed salad to start…

“Pizza Viagra” (yes, really!) for Mr FD

 A calzone for me. I was tempted to have “Pizza Aphrodisia” just to get tongues wagging, what with Mr FD’s pizza as well, but I didn’t!

They weren’t tiny pizzas either!

After this, Mr FD decided he needed another gelato, so we wandered back to the Piazza. He had a delicious lemon-and-basil flavour, and I had a yoghurt gelato, with peach and strawberry syrup running through it. Yummy!

I was very lucky here, as I left my purse on, the bench where we’d been sitting. As we walked back along the streets to the car, a young man chased after us with the purse…all money and credit cards intact. There are honest people in this world (who are also observant enough to notice who it was that had left the purse behind!). What a relief! That would have really put a dampener on the holiday!

And relax! (briefly!) – Holiday Day 1

Hello everyone!

I am at last taking a breath and pausing, after a fabulous week in Italy and then a week with my mum and sister staying. It has been lovely, but I haven’t really stopped, so ended up feeling really tired! Today is a day of not doing much at all, and then I need to start thinking about going bacxk to work. After a gap of 9 months it’s going to be quite difficult, although I am definitely looking forward to it!

I’ll spread out my posts about our holiday… I won’t overwhelm you with everything in one post!

So we wet off on Sunday morning, after a panic filled Saturday evening – I discvered that my European Health card was out of date, and I couldn’t get onto the site to renew it, for many and various reasons. Mr FD was quietly frustrated with me, but we finally decided that we’d take the chance that nothing terrible would happen that required medical attention – and if it did, well, the lack of card would just mean we’d have to pay up front and get reimbursed later. Happily, it was not necessary!!

We decided that we wouldn’t take the Fréjus tunnel, but rather drive over the mountains between France and Italy

This is the Col between France and Italy where we paused to eat our lunch, before descending a very winding road into Italy.

We arrived at our B&B around 17h30, having stopped off for a beer in Omegna, a village at the lakeside.

Mr FD standing on the bridge in Omegna

The B&B was very nice, but there was a problem: there was parking for 2 small cars, and 3 bedrooms**. Our car is not small, and we were “the last in”, as it were, so the spaces were already “reserved”.  The public car parking, according to the owners, is 300m away…but they neglect to say that it is 300m up a hill, AND there’s another 200 m up to the house! That first evening Mr FD drove up to the public car park, and got caught in a torrential down pour! He was not a happy bunny, and was adament that I would struggle to walk up to it every day.

So, we (I’m a tad ashamed to say) played the “cancer card” – we explained to Dario, the owner, that, in my state of recovery, I couldn’t walk up to the car park every day, so if there was no other parking available, we were very sorry but we’d have to cancel the rest of the booking, and find another place to stay. Very quickly, a solution was found, and we were able to use their parking place for the duration of the stay! I’d certainly recommend the B&B to anyone thinking of going to Lake Orta – you would ned a car, as it’s a few kilometres above the lake, but it was very pleasant, and Dario and Ciara, the owners, were very accommodating. He explained to me that they are planning on improving the parking situation this autumn.

Lavanda e Rosmarino

It wasn’t the most “typical” place, being a modern house, but it was very comfortable, and the breakfasts were fab!

Our room

We were directed to an excellent restaurant for dinner, just up the road, where we ate very well. The Taverna Antico Agnello. I had a delicious tomato soup, with garlic bread, followed by home made tagliatelli with a rabbit ragout, and then pannacotta. When we arrived it was lashing down with rain, and when we left it was dark, so we didn’t get much chance to look at the splendid building that the restaurant was in, but here is Trip Advisor’s photo:

Despite the thunderstorm and parking problem, it was an auspicious start to our holiday. I was already feeling more relaxed!

 

** ETA – that sentence is badly written, sounding as though there was car parking space for not only two small cars, but also for three bedrooms!! What it means is, of course, that despite the fact there wre three bedrooms in the B&B, there was parking provided for just two cars, and small ones at that.