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Report 1114: Bergamo, Venice, Lerici, Piemonte, Friends & World Cup Mania

By girasoli from Hawaii, Summer 2006

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Page 4 of 23: Weekend With Katia & Guido

photo by girasoli

view from the top of the castle in Soave

Friday morning, I was up early. I was so excited to travel to Coccaglio to spend the weekend with Katia and Guido. After stopping at a bar to have my morning espresso and a brioche, I bought a yogurt and picked up a newspaper and headed to La Rocca to spend a little while before checking out of my hotel. La Rocca is a very peaceful place with a beautiful view of the city below.

Back at my hotel, after paying my bill, I walked out the door with my luggage to find two cars blocking me in. There was a U shape of planters with trees in them surrounding the hotel. Right next to the tiny exit area was a car parked with only about three inches to spare. I am a pretty small person but could not seem to squeeze between the car and the trees with my bags. I finally asked one of the people at the hotel to help me fit my rolling bag between the planters and the car. She pushed my bag through, which was what I did not want to do, as the car was pretty dirty and I did not want to get dirt all over my bag. Then I had to squeeze by almost knocking down all the branches along the way to get out with my second bag on my back.

I took the funicular back down and caught the bus back to the train station. The train was pretty full and running about 10 minutes late. I printed out the schedule of times/stops so that I would know when we would arrive in Coccaglio. Coccaglio is a tiny town. The train only stops there for about 30 seconds. You need to be right at the door ready to depart in order to get off the train in time. I got a little nervous when the train did not stop at the first planned stop. At this point I was not sure if it was going to stop at all the other stops and so I watched closely for the names of each stops as we continued on our way. The train also did not have automatic doors that opened and so I began to worry about not being able to open the door in time once the train arrived in Coccaglio. Luckily, there was a man at the door that helped me open the door when the train arrived.

Coccaglio is so small that you actually have to walk across the train tracks to get to the other side instead of going under the underpass to get to the other side. When I got off the train, I did not see Katia at first as my train was on track 2 and she was waiting on the other side. For a moment, I had this fear that perhaps I did not get off in Coccaglio since the sign was also blocked. When the train finally finished going by, I saw Katia on the other side of the track waiting for me! We were both so happy to see each other that we hugged right in the middle of the tracks!!

Katia took me back to her house and had lunch ready for me. She made a delicious pasta with tomatoes and a caprese salad. After lunch, we went to the preschool where she works. The children were all so cute! They have been learning about volcanoes and wanted to know all about the volcano in Hawaii. They were also learning a few words in English which they proudly said for me. I taught them a song in English and then they performed a song in Italian for me. It was interesting to see the similarities and differences between the preschools in Hawaii and the preschool here in Coccaglio.

When we left, we met Guido and then went to look at some apartments that Katia and Guido may rent when they get married. After looking at the apartments, we went to see the historical part of Rovato, the town that Guido is from. Then we stopped at a mall nearby to check out the CDs and DVDs. For dinner, we went to this beautiful place on Lake Iseo. I still had not completely adjusted to the time difference and was pretty tired when we got back to Katia's house. I must have fallen asleep as soon as I hit the pillow.

When I woke up Saturday morning, my eye was red and sore. My eye first started bothering me after landing in Milan. I thought it was due to my allergies. I started using some allergy drops that I brought with me thinking that that would solve the problem but the drops seemed to make my eye hurt more. It felt like there was a scratch on my eye.

After breakfast we went to the grocery store to pick up some food for lunch and then we went to the panificio (bread store). I love getting to do the normal every day things when I am with my friends in Italy. We then went to the Farmacia to try to get some eye drops to soothe my eyes. It seems that every year I visit the Farmacia at least once. I was very thankful to have Katia with me to interpret. I found out that the allergy eye drops I was using were drying out my eyes. I bought some different eye drops which started to help right away.

Because Katia's mom & dad were on holiday, Katia was in charge of making lunch and dinner for her brother. For lunch, she made one of my favorite meals, ravioli con salve e burro (ravioli with sage and butter). Guido came by after lunch and we decided to go to Soave for the afternoon.

Soave is a little town surrounded by beautiful valleys full of vineyards. There is a huge castle at the top of the town where we had a wonderful time exploring. After walking around the inside of the castle, we decided to climb to the top. Guido and I were able to talk Katia into going about halfway up where you come to a thin walkway which goes over to the top of the tower. Katia waited for us there while Guido and I went the rest of the way to the top. Katia is afraid of heights although I always seem to talk her into climbing at least partway up some sort of castle or tower whenever I visit.

After spending about an hour in the castle, we walked back down into the town and stopped for a gelato. I chose mango & fragola (strawberry). It is so hard to describe the difference between gelato in Italy and ice cream or gelato in the US, but there is definitely a difference and there is no comparing the gelato in Italy! The flavors are so much more intense! The gelato we had in Soave was amazing...I would have to say one of the best I have ever had.

On our way out of town, we drove by the Soave Bolla building, which was located right at the edge of the town. I asked Katia if Soave Bolla was a popular wine in Italy. I told her about the famous Soave Bolla commercial which plays on TV in the US. She said it was not a very popular wine in Italy. I wonder if the main business for the wine is in the US.

After a beautiful drive back, we stopped at another grocery store to pick up some food for dinner and for all the people coming over to watch the big soccer match - Italy vs. US. We had a wonderful caprese salad for dinner as well as some prosciutto and melone.

After dinner, we waited with anticipation for the game to start. Katia’s brother is a HUGE soccer fan. I had been told that I would be sleeping in the garden if the US won! There were eight people strongly rooting for Italy and then there was me. Everyone joked about my allegiance to the US and how the garden would be ready for me if Italy lost although I was just as happy to see Italy win. Right when the game started, it began to rain outside. I asked with a straight face if they had a tent for me. It was lots of fun watching the game and listening to the reactions when either the US or Italy got a warning and when someone was thrown out of the game with a red card. It was a pretty bloody game with lots of yellow and red cards. Italy scored first. Then one of the Italian players scored a goal for the US! That did not go over well. In the end, the two teams tied. It ended perfectly for me, as no one could be upset with the US team since Italy scored both goals. A fun night!

Sunday morning, we went to the local pasticciera in Rovato for a coffee and brioche for breakfast. After breakfast, we stopped at Katia's other brother's house for a quick visit with her brother, his wife, and their two little girls. We had a very nice visit. We then headed back to Katia's house to make lunch. The day before, while at the grocery store, Katia asked me what I ate when I was little. I told her that my mom mostly made Italian dishes and that I also remembered her making these great grilled cheese sandwiches. Katia had never had a grilled cheese sandwich and asked me to make them for lunch on Sunday. So, while Katia was cooking the most delicious chicken rolled up with cheese inside cooked in some white wine, I made grilled cheese sandwiches. Katia, Guido, and her brother were a little hesitant at first to try the sandwiches but then ended up eating every last bite.

When we finished eating lunch, we talked about our afternoon plans. First, we watched the motorbike race on TV, and then we went to Lake Iseo for a long walk by the lake.

After our walk, we returned to Katia's house to start preparing dinner. Katia had invited all the people I had met during my visits over the years to her house for a spectacular dinner. We ate for two and a half hours! We had a delicious seafood risotto that Katia made, grilled shrimp and two types of scampi, salad, fruit salad, and then for dessert a very special cake that Katia & Guido ordered in honor of my visit with the word "Bentornata" written on it (which means welcome back) and a toast of prosecco.

I have been so fortunate to have met such wonderful friends. After dinner, we spent more time talking and laughing. Such a wonderful night to end another great visit.

Monday morning, Katia and I spent a long breakfast chatting some more. Then we walked over to the little bread store to buy some rolls. By then it was lunchtime. Katia made some more ravioli with burro and salve and then she drove me to the train station.

We both commented that we wait for so long to see each other again and then the time goes by so quickly. I was really sad to leave. I had a wonderful stay and look forward to showing Katia and Guido Hawaii next summer when they visit for their honeymoon. They will marry this December.

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