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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

And so it begins..

Saturday 18th August. Milan / Bergamo / Verona

Temp 36°. Clear heat, very hazy skies

Excellent flight on Cathay Pacific and landed in Milan Malpensa airport 7.30am on time & feeling great. After the necessary paperwork for the car and instructions including setting the GPS. We were off!

First stop Bergamo -took the Funicular to Cittá Alta (upper city) - Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore/ Clock tower / Square complete with fountain and tourists. It was a bit hazy but still beautiful views over Bergamo. The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore was a magnificent church with every available wall space covered in paintings, mosaics or tapestries. Pizza lunch then back to the car for the next destination, Verona. The streets are amazingly clean.

Drove into Verona and parked in a large parking station close to the city centre. There were crowds of people everywhere, hundreds lining up for the Don Giovanni opera at the arena. Unallocated seating is on first in best seats basis. Fortunately for us we have allocated seats so won’t need to be so early to queue tomorrow night. Loads of street entertainment and no shortage of restaurants including McDonalds! We walked along the narrow laneways and found a lovely restaurant and enjoyed beautiful Italian style pasta – al dente. Returned to hotel for coffee and bed. Lights out 10.30pm (we’d had about 8 hours sleep in the previous 44 hours)

Sunday 19th August

Another warm day 30° at 10am

Bags packed and off to Lago Di Garda. We’ve experienced the best and worst of Italian drivers and roads today. Very narrow streets with room for one small car only but 2 way traffic. So pleased not to see any other cars on this road! Narrow roads along the edge of Lake Garda – Sunbathing on the stones called beach – no shade, no hats, unbelievable number of people. Park where you can and risk a fine. Always look out for bicyclists and motor bikes/scooters – no helmets. They are everywhere and overtake probably where they shouldn’t.

Decided on taking the bus to the Arena for the opera Aida which commenced at 9pm. We had wondered what would happen if it rained- well no need to wonder it was 36° , no breeze and quite oppressive. Between us we drank over 2 ½ litres of water in 3 hours. The arena is an amazing venue which I think seats 20,000 people. Our seats were in a great location but very uncomfortable - the cushions we hired were helpful. The opera Aida had very impressive sets, costumes and of course beautiful music. The opera finished at 12.45am and we were both totally spent and well and truly ready for bed.

Monday 20th August

Time to move on. We drove to Mestre via Asola, a very beautiful hill top village. It seems that as in parts of France, most things shut down on Mondays, so most shops were closed and I suspect lighter traffic. Arrived in Mestre and found our hotel with not too much difficulty. Not much activity in the area but a welcome break and time to take a breath before hitting Venice for a couple of days.

Bergamo - Citta Alta in background

Citte Alta -Upper city

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