On Friday, we picked up our rental car in Bologna (a Fiat Panda, in case you were wondering- a truly ridiculous little automobile) and headed north to Sirmione.
Daniel drove and I navigated. We listened to lots of very bad 80's music and ate trail-mix.
Sirmione is a tiny little candy-colored town on a finger of land that extends out into southern Lake Garda. Catullus had a villa in Sirmione and described it in one of his poems. Sirmio, jewel of islands, jewel of peninsulas/ jewel of whatever is set in the bright waters/ or the great sea, or either ocean. Fittingly, we were staying in the Hotel Catullo, which in order to access, we had to drive over a drawbridge and through a 13th century castle.
We had a lakeview room with a big deck, perfect for sunset-watching. After our very full days in Rome and Bologna, it felt lovely to slow down.
This included buying two pizzas, two portions of tiramisu, and a bottle of wine and eating dinner in our hotel room while watching a re-run of game 2 of the World Series on TV.
We went to sleep early and it would have been an entirely relaxing except for that we were woken up at 4am by the persistent meowing of a cat that had crept into our room through the open balcony door.
The next morning we woke up and breakfasted in the hotel before going out to explore the town. We wandered out towards the thermal springs (which smelled horribly like old Chinese food) and the Grotte di Catullo at the very end of the island.
Sidenote: apparently Maria Callas lived in Sirmione for a while.
They morning was gray, but the lake was clear and beautiful and the view of the mountains with the clouds and fog was very dramatic.
After the heavy athleticism of stone-skipping, it was time to drink more wine. So we sat out in front of our hotel on the water with our books and wine.
On Sundays, cars are only allowed to drive on and off of the island before 10am and after 7pm, so we had to be on our way early. We had originally planned to spend the day in Verona before our departure, but since it was Sunday (read: everything closed) and raining, we decided our time would be better spent driving around the lake.
We drove clockwise, stopping in Desenzano del Garda for cappucinos (my chauffer was tired after staying up until 3am watching the World Series while I slept) and then heading towards the Gardone Riviera.
We stopped for lunch at a little restaurant called Trattoria San Martino in Gargagno.
The restaurant overhangs the lake, which was stormy and heaving. We ordered an enormous plate of lake fish, followed by gnocchi with shaved black truffles.
After lunch, we walked around the town a little. It was very empty and quiet.
Eventually, we had to be on our way- we had an evening flight out of Milan. Daniel drove and I slept. Clearly I am an excellent navigator.
It absolutely poured rain the entire 4 hour drive to Milan. Not so pleasant. But eventually we made it and after checking in, made a beeline for the airport bar for a much needed drink. Or two.