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Report 678: Italia - Umbria, Lago di Garda, Lago di Como & Visits with Friends in Empoli and Coccaglio

By girasoli from Hawaii, Spring 2005

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Page 12 of 24: Malcésine, Limone sul Garda, & Riva del Garda

photo by girasoli

Monte Baldo

Tuesday morning I awoke to a beautiful day on the lake. Hotel Eden served a huge buffet breakfast with everything you could immagine (except eggs, bacon, pancakes or waffles). The hotel was right on the lake and there were tables outside where everyone ate breakfast. It was a nice peaceful way to start the day.

I decided to take the first "rapido" ferry to start my day traveling the lake. Salň was my first stop. Italy is my kind of place. Everyone stays up late and sleeps in. There was only one other passenger on the ferry with me and when I got to Salň about 9 am, the town was just waking up. Unfortunately everything was under construction and there was not much to see. I walked around the harbor area and then waited for the next ferry which took me to Malcésine. If I had researched the ferry system earlier, I could have saved some money as I ended up paying double the cost to Malcésine with the stop in Salň.

When I arrived in Malcésine, I asked someone for directions and then headed up towards the funivia for Monte Baldo. A friend had told me about this mountain called Monte Baldo that you could reach by funivia a few years ago. There was a HUGE crowd of German tourists also heading towards the funivia. I tried to walk quickly to get in front of them but my plan was foiled as although I did get ahead of them, there was another huge crowd of Germans waiting at the funivia site. The ticket cost 15 euros andata e ritorno (round trip). If I had known what was to await me, I may not have endured the hassle to get to the top, but the way the line was set up, you could not tell until much later that you would end up being stuck waiting for over 30 minutes on a stair.

Once I finally reached the first of two funivias (which are both like big gondalas), I had to rush through this turnstyle with my ticket being scanned (I say rush as only 45 people get through and here in Italy, there is no such thing as a "formal line" - I will talk more about that later). Next, the man herded the group of 45 people into this waiting area and then the funivia arrived. Before I knew it, everyone had pushed their way in front of me and I had to squeeze my way into the gondola.

Now, not to hurt anyone's feelings, but I really do not think that deoderant has reached Germany (at least to the Germans on the gondola with me). There was no air and not much room to move on the 10 minutes up to the half way point. I practiced my skills of holding my breath as long as I could. Once we reached the intermediate spot, everyone was herded off the gondola and then there was a mad dash to scan your ticket into the turnstyle for the next funivia. This one holds 80 people but does not look much bigger than the first. Now if you have done your math, 45 + 45 does not add up to 80, so the last 10 people through the turnstyle end up waiting for the following funivia to arrive! Luckily, I made the cut!! BUT, wow, that lack of deoderant was even more evident on the second funivia and this time, it was like being in a can of sardines with no breathing room!! What made it even worse was that over half of the people had one arm up for the ride holding onto the little handles that hung down from the top. I was so happy to get to the top with the fresh air and incredibly beautiful views.

The experience of being at the top of Monte Baldo made it all worthwhile. It reminded me of Colorado or Switzerland with the wild flowers and beautiful mountains except there was no snow. I could hear sheep on the side of the hill. It was cool but not too cold since it was so warm down below. I sat for a while to admire the beauty and then decided to head back down as I had a full day planned. If I had known how amazing it would have been, I would have changed my plans, brought lunch, and stayed for a while. The ride down was much better as the funivia cars were not full.

Once I reached the bottom, I walked over to the Rocca Scaligero which is a Castle with a tower. I had a great time walking around the inside of the castle, taking pictures and then climbing the tower. My first tower for the year!! Climbing towers is one of my favorite things to do in Italy. The views from the top were amazing.

After leaving the Rocca Scaligero, I headed back to the ferry dock to catch the next ferry. I originally wanted to make stops at Limone sul Garda, Torbole, and Riva del Garda but with the ferry times and the extra time it took to get to the top of Monte Baldo, I only had time for two places.

Next stop was Limone sul Garda. I was not as excited about this town as I had hoped to be. It was packed with tourists and there was barely an inch to move when walking through the narrow, windy streets. I waited for the next ferry and headed on to Riva del Garda. I originally planned to also stop in Torbole but did not have enough time when looking at the ferry schedule for the ferries back to Sirmione.

I really enjoyed Riva del Garda and again wished I had more time to spend here. Unfortunately, I only had about 90 minutes, but managed to visit the Museo (really quick visit) and then climbed my second tower - two in one day! I counted the stairs on this tower, 176 steps up and then down. Not the highest tower I have climbed, but I felt the steps after all the walking I had done plus the other tower I had climbed earlier in the day. The views again were wonderful. I headed back down and caught the last hydrofoil ferry back to Sirmione.

I sat on the top deck of the boat outside in the back seat. The first half of the ride was very wet, which turned out to be great as many other people headed inside as soon as the water started to splash up from the lake which gave me lots of room to spread out.

Back in Sirmione, I found this restaurant that had a wonderful ravioli dish advertised. I ordered the ravioli dish and also a soup of muscles and clams. When the waiter brought me the soup he told me that they ran out of the ravioli dish and asked me if I wanted to order something else instead. I was very disappointed and wished that I was told this at the beginning before anything was brought to me. My heart was set on the ravioli dish. I decided against ordering any other dishes as there was not anything on the menu that I really wanted to eat and so I paid my bill and stopped in this little store to buy some cheese, bread and fruit to complete my dinner instead.

Great day on the lake!!

Photo - Monte Baldo

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