Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 1686: Cervano, Apartment
apartment and B&B in estate above Lake Garda, Lombardy
August 25, 2005 , 6 nights
The bedroom and kitchen windows overlook Lake Garda and the beautiful Bogliaco golf course (I don't play but wanted to just to walk around the course!) The rear windows allow you to look up to the peaks of the mountains that rise on the West coast of the lake.
Set amongst olives, grapes, the freshest figs I'll ever have (straight from the tree outside the back door) and apples, the intrusion of the busy roads around the lake can't reach you.
A walk through the grass that was loaded with wild flowers, butterflies and grasshoppers was a pleasure on it's own. Cervano is situated on a large plot (14 Hectacres) with no discernable neighbours. I'm sure they are there - you just can't see them.
Having walked in both directions along the track that actually appeared on the car's satellite navigation as a road I would recommend comfortable shoes and a drink before taking the walk to the 'nearby' shop and restaurant. If you are a townie like us (or have small kids like us) I would say it is best to drive to a supermarket by the lake for supplies.
The walk to the left takes you to a small farm that produces and sells goat's milk and cheese. The right eventually gets to Fornico where you'll find the Ristorante a Gargnano where they will make you very welcome if you don't speak Italian. ( www.ristorantefornico.it ) One word of warning though - do watch out for the Menu Rustico if you don't fancy eating Horse or Donkey! A little further up that road is a small shop that sells everything you'll need from beer to ham.
The building was a beauty. We stayed in the self catering apartment although they do offer B & B as well. After reading a review on this very site I was more than pleased with what we found.
The owners have improved the property sympathetically so you don't feel like you are staying in a Novotel. The highest quality Italian tiles and fittings make the apartment comfortable. You really feel as though you are the only people there even though the owners live on the top floor.
We were welcomed with some basic supplies to help us along and treated to fresh bread and jams. I found fresh coffee in the cupboards as well as locally produced (by the owner!!) olive oil - what a treat.
We had our three children with us aged 8, 6 and 4 months but due to the size of accomodation we never felt as though we were bothering anyone. The owners provided the most beautiful cot for the baby to sleep in (pity she likes to play her way into our bed). Sitting in the kitchen/diner eating breakfast while the morning(ish) sun flooded through the window was a delight.
There was no garden in the normal sense of the word but with so much land at your disposal to explore we didn't feel one was needed. As previously mentioned, a walk through the grass was a delight for me and the kids, as was lizard chasing.
The meditation point, a seating area with table (sorry for lame description) overlooking the lake, was a great place to sit with a glass of wine whilst rocking the baby to sleep of an evening. No pool but a big lake nearby!
Everything was spotless. There was plenty of room and satellite TV with a few English channels. Gino bought a TV in for the children's bedroom. Once they discovered the cartoons it was hard to get them outside but hiding the remote worked.
Our double bed was very comfy and the view from the window over the lake was to die for.
The bathroom had a shower which once the water was hot was lovely and powerful. A great super sized sink, a bidet which the kids were fixated with ('Mum, can we wash our bums again'!!) especially after the holes on the ground which pass for public toilets, and a washing machine - read as Godsend when travelling with a 4 month old (and 6 and 8 year olds to some extent)
Usable? It was better equipped than our kitchen at home! Pots, pans, loads of glasses and cups etc. Even a toaster.
Two things that us Brits missed that the locals would have no use for. A electric kettle to make tea (and baby bottles) since thay don't do tea and make coffee the proper way - to be fair there was a stove top kettle but it took a while to get used to not boiling all the water away; secondly - mugs for the tea (and, dare I mention, the cups of secretly imported instant coffee) We got used to the kettle and bought mugs that resembled soup bowls at the supermarket. We'll take a kettle next time for ease of use (phillistines).
Problems or Bonuses
Apart from getting there (I don't fly so we drove, hit the European floods that washed roads away, had to stay unplanned in Austria and drove 2,500 miles return!) it was the most relaxing holiday (yes, even with three kids) that I've had.
The owners, Anna and Gino, made us feel welcome and Gino couldn't do enough to entertain the kids (and us). He even had us all blowing bubbles through giant bamboo! They offered to pick up shopping for us and were full of usefull information. There was even a wireless internet connection.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
I dealt directly with Gino. His English was excellent. All initial enquiries were dealt with quickly and the short notice booking was taken without a deposit and on trust. Cost was 120 euros per night. (high season)
The property has a website and Gino emailed more pics but trust me when I say that the reality exceeds any expectations that the pictures give you and the view, smell and sounds of the place cannot be described or recreated with any method I know of.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Yes. Next time I may even take my best friends! I plan on going back for a month to make the journey worth it.
Things to do in this area
We adopted the 'drive round the lake until you see something that catches your eye and stop' approach to sightseeing.
We looked for the (badly signposted) cross lake ferries one afternoon and ended up driving round the whole lake. (Veeeery long way) The locals can be aggressive on the roads if you are easily intimidated. I driver a fast German V8 UberEstate (US-Wagon?) so I tend not to hang around and don't suffer from tailgaiting very often. I did get done for speeding within 1/2 hour of entering Europe - Belgium - though and drove off 150 Euro lighter. We found the car ferry the next day and although it was fairly expensive, 20 Euros one way, it saves a lot of driving.
On the Sunday we found a fair that seemed to be attended by plenty of Italian families at the Northern edge of the lake (Riva del Garda) The atmosphere was lovely and the kids enjoyed the land train and the horse rides.
We took the kids to Gardland which was gret fun, for them of course.
We visited the peninsula at Sirmione and walked all the way round the flat rocks with a pram (mad).
One thing though, unless you plan on a proper sit down meal with loads of courses (not always practical with 3 kids) the 'fast' food on offer was a disappointment. I never have been that keen on pizza and the sandwiches that seemed to be everywhere were very boring. We did have a great meal at the Autogril service station near Milan on the way home though - freshly cooked steak, at a motorway service station!!
Next time we might leave the kids with Gino and go out for a proper dinner. I'll hopefully go into more detail when I write up the trip report including the unplanned stay at the top of an Austrian mountain.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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