Tuesday, June 21st
I awoke to a beautiful day on the lake. Hotel Eden serves a huge buffet breakfast with everything you could imagine (except eggs, bacon, pancakes or waffles). There were tables outside right on the lake where everyone ate breakfast. It was a nice peaceful way to start the day.
I took the first “rapido” ferry to start my day traveling on the lake. Salò 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. When I got to Salò about 9 am, the town was just waking up.
Everything seemed to be under construction so there was not much to see. I walked around the harbor area and then waited for the next ferry which took me to Malcésine. Tip – research the ferry system! I ended up paying double the cost to Malcésine with the stop in Salò.
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 the group but my plan was foiled. Even though I did manage to get ahead of the group, there was another huge crowd 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.
After finally reaching the first of two funivias (which are both like big gondolas), I had to rush through a turnstyle with my ticket being scanned. Only 45 people got through and there is no such thing as a “formal line” in Italy. Once through the turnstyle, 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 funivia.
There was no air and not much room to move during the 10 minutes up to the half way point. It was very difficult to breathe, especially with many of the other passengers neglecting to wear any deodorant. 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 deodorant 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 reach the top for some fresh air.
The experience of being at the top of Monte Baldo made it all worthwhile. The views were incredibly beautiful! 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 since 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 because the funivia cars were not full.
Back down in the town of Malcésine, 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 beautiful.
After leaving the Rocca Scaligero, I walked through the town, heading back to the ferry dock to catch the next ferry.
My original plan was to stop to spend a bit of time in 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 and ended up skipping a visit to Torbole.
Next stop was Limone sul Garda. Although beautiful from the boat, Limone sul Garda was packed with tourists when I arrived. There was barely an inch of space to move when walking through the narrow, winding streets. I did not spend much time in this little town. Instead, I waited for the next ferry and headed on to Riva del Garda.
Riva del Garda was a wonderful place to visit. I only wished I had more time to spend there but due to the ferry schedule, I only had about 90 minutes in this cute little town.
I did manage to visit the Museo (really quick visit) and then I climbed the Torre Apponale. the medieval clock tower, which was built during the 13th century. My second tower of the day! I counted the stairs on this tower, 176 steps up and then down again. Not the highest tower I have climbed, but I still felt the steps after all the walking I had done plus the other tower I had climbed earlier in the day. The views at the top were wonderful.
I caught the last hydrofoil ferry back to Sirmione, sitting 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 because much of the crowd 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. My heart was set on the ravioli dish. I decided against ordering any other dishes as there really was not anything else on the menu that I wanted to eat. I paid my bill and stopped in this little store to buy some cheese, bread and fruit to complete my dinner.
Fun day on the lake!!