Monday, June 20th
After some last minute packing and a relaxing breakfast with Marusca, we drove to the train station. I said goodbye and thanked Marusca again for my stay at her house and for a wonderful time in Empoli with her family.
I was off to Sirmione which is located on Lake Garda. Traveling from Empoli to Sirmione entailed three train rides and then finally a boat ride!
My first train from Empoli to Firenze went smoothly. I had about an hour to wait while in Firenze before my next train trip. I hung out at the train station, taking “train station photos” while waiting.
The Eurostar was 10 minutes “in ritardo” and changed tracks at the last minute. The ride was long (almost three hours) but the seats were quite comfortable.
There are only reserved seats on Eurostar trains. My seat ended up being across from a very crabby lady. Since the train was not full, I found another seat after a few stops.
My last train from Verona to Desenzano del Garda was 20 minutes “in ritardo”. Everyone took their phones out once the train delay was announced.
This last train ride was hot (AC was not working) but the ride was not that long.
I don’t think you will find these compartments/type of seating on trains anymore.
I did not have to go down any stairs with my bags the entire trip until I arrived at Desenzano del Garda! Once leaving the train station, I started heading down hill, following the sign to the centro.
At the bottom of a long street, I took out a map that I printed off the internet. This very nice older man came by on a bike and could see that I was not sure what direction to go. He said “Dimmi” which means literally “tell me”, but more like “What do you want/need?”. He was very kind and told me which street to take and even followed me a short way and again pointed out the street to make sure I knew the way.
The lake promenade was filled with little shops and bars/gelaterias. I was pretty hungry and stopped to get a slice of pizza at one of the little food shops.
Katia sent me the boat timetable in advance and I knew I had about 10 minutes before the next boat arrived. When I went to the ticket booth, I found out that I had two choices, the slow ferry or the faster “rapido” boat. Since it had been seven hours so far for my long travel day, I chose the faster boat.
There were two places where the boats departed in Desenzano del Garda. I walked over to the spot where the ticket man told me that the rapido boats departed and asked one of the men in blue that worked on the boat if I was at the correct place. I wanted to make sure so I would not end up waiting an extra hour if I was at the wrong boat dock. He replied with a smile that this boat was “rapidissima”! Just as he said, the ride was rapidissima!
When the boat arrived at the dock in Sirmione, I was excited to see that my hotel was right there on the waterfront next to the dock. I checked into my hotel (Hotel Eden) and then went to find the tourist information area before it closed.
At the entrance to Sirmione stands a big castle (Castello Scaligero) with a moat/permanent bridge that you walk over to enter/exit the town. There are only two ways into Sirmione, crossing over this moat or arriving by boat.
I enjoyed taking a few pictures of the Castello Scaligero (castle) and of the town.
Then went back to my room to unpack, just in time for my favorite Italian show – Carabinieri! I had spaghetti with seafood at a restaurant that was just ok for dinner.
I was pretty tired after a long travel day. I was very happy to be in Sirmione and was looking forward to a few days on the lake.