Wednesday, June 22nd
I enjoyed another leisurely breakfast and then spent about an hour more out on the deck soaking up the sun.
My big plan of the day was to visit the moated and turreted Castello Scaligero, the big castle in Sirmione.
It was quite impressive and very enjoyable. After walking around the bottom part, I climbed the first tower. At the top, you could walk around the edge of the wall (similar to the Fortezza in Montalcino). The views were spectacular. On the other side of the tower, there was a second tower to climb. More wonderful views at the top! There was another area I also went to where you can see even more of the castle that surrounds the water. The entrance fee of four euros was definitely worth it!
After exploring the castle, I walked to the other end of the town to the tip of the peninsiula to visit the Grotte di Catullo. There is a choice of walking or taking a little tram for one euro to reach the Grotte. The walk was not very far but on a hot day, many people chose the tram.
The Grotte di Catullo are alleged to be the Roman villa and baths of the poet Catullua. I walked around taking pictures and at one point, I stepped on this rock (forgetting that it was actually a ruin thousands of years old) to get a better view for the picture I wanted to take. I heard a loud whistle! A man that guards the area was blowing the whistle at me to get off the ancient stone that I was standing on! I lost my head there for a moment!
In the afternoon, I took a boat to the towns of Bardolino and Garda. I found out that taking the boat in the afternoon was quite a different experience than taking the boat in the morning. I waited with a large group of people. As the time grew closer to the arrival of the boat, the crowd grew larger and larger.
I have found that there does not seem to be any sort of line when waiting with a group of people here in Italy. The Italians will appear to be polite by saying “permesso” but then just push right on towards the front and the Germans just push right on through without even saying anything. I could not believe how everyone just pushed right by an elderly man in a wheelchair waiting by the entrance to get on board. It took quite a while before the man was let through. You have two choices, be aggressive or wait and be last. I tried to be polite, but also had to stand my ground. It’s quite a delicate balancing act.
Both Bardolino and Garda were very beautiful little towns on the lake. When I arrived at each town, everything was pretty much closed for the afternoon except for the bars and gelaterias. By the time everything opened again, it was time to take the boat back to Sirmione. I enjoyed nonetheless walking around taking pictures and also enjoyed the boat rides in between the towns.
For dinner, I found a little restaurant away from the centro tourist area called Al Portico Ristorante con Pizza. At first I was seated near the door. I ordered a cannelloni dish. The waiter came to ask if it was ok if I moved to another table because he forgot that there was a reservation for six people and he needed my table. This worked out great for me as it was in a much nicer spot and when I saw the pasta dish that was brought to the table next to me, I asked what it was called and changed my order to this dish, a tagliono pasta with fish, cherry tomatoes, and a delicious sauce. The Italian couple next to me told me that it was a good choice. We chatted off and on throughout our dinner. They were very nice and it was great to have some company for dinner. I also enjoyed some delicious tiramisù for dessert. Yum!