On Days Like These(Matt Monro - The Italian Job) - The Spendour of Lake Maggiore,Italy - 25th May 2016


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May 25th 2016
Published: May 30th 2016
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There is nothing like waking to the rising of the sun and farmyard noises. For city people it really does make you feel like you are in another world.

This was the way it was this morning. Not just chickens going about their early morning business but the noises of a farm getting underway for the day ahead.

First up though was a visit to the 'Tardis'.We have named the shower the'Tardis' as it reminds us of that thing in the TV show Dr Who.We want one of these showers for home when we next upgrade the bathroom.To heck with the expense just to have all the options of jets from all angles and a blast from overhead once you can work out the controls!

Breakfast was provided this morning as part of the tariff which made for a change in routine. It was all laid out for us and it was a treat to have a machine made coffee even if we had to boost the water as what was dispensed was just enough for those silly little cups they have in Italy and France.

Yesterday we passed the UNESCO site of the walled town of Sabbionetta about 5km from our destination. We didn’t think we had enough time to drop in and take a look yesterday so we are starting off by going there this morning.

Again we have to put this place down as one of those special finds that you won’t see in most travel books but have to travel the lesser roads to get to see them and discover the history and the town’s stories over the centuries.

The town is situated near the River Po, one of the principal rivers of Italy, and was founded in the late 16th century. So while it is not as old as many of the places we have visited it has been preserved wonderfully well and attained the UNESCO status in 2008.The acknowledgement for UNESCO status came about because of the well maintained Renaissance period buildings and layout of the town.

We found the most striking building was the Gallery degli Antichi a long building that was built in 1584 of stone and brick and provides a perfect symmetrical view. The gallery at one time was connected to a castle within the town although the castle was demolished at some time in the past.

We discovered later when doing some research that we should have visited the upstairs floor of the gallery as there were frescoes painted not long after the building was completed still visible on the ceiling.

Strolling on further we found the town’s main piazza where it was market day with all ranges of products being sold as well as food items. The asparagus looked very fresh so we bought ourselves a bundle for next to nothing which will keep us going for a few meals.

Unfortunately the town’s main church was closed and so we didn’t get to look at the frescoes also from the late 16th century that were within the building.

We finished our walk around the town at what had been the Jewish ghetto and synagogue although there was not a lot of history to reveal what happened to the occupants of this part of the town at various stages of its history.

Our start of the day diversion worked well for us as the road to take us toward Lake Maggiore ran from beside the walled town and we were soon on our way heading for another break in Cremona where we decided to do some shopping for supplies.

With jet streams from overhead passenger planes criss crossing the clear blue sky above us and spring tomato plants in the fields as far as the eye could see we drove on the SS343 until we made the outskirts of Cremona and came across a very large shopping mall with a CoOp supermarket.

With the grocery shopping done Gretchen was looking for a hairdresser who would rid her of the ‘duck’s tail’ that she has been growing and threatening to put into pigtails using the rubber bands we have saved from the asparagus bundles we have been buying.

She found a place and using sign language demonstrated what she would like done in a tidy up haircut.

Apparently all was going well until the hairdresser set down her tools of trade which included an electric hair clipper which is not something she has had her hair styled with before. She was a bit anxious that she would reappear before me with a ‘Number one haircut’.

However, she emerged and all had turned out well, the ‘duck’s tail’ was gone and she should be right for another few weeks.

One of the things we have had trouble finding on the Italian roads we have travelled have been lay bys that we can park at to have lunch and today we had to park in a small town’s car park to get ourselves off the road.

Then it was the SS415 towards Milan and another challenge like we faced yesterday on how to get around a large city without getting snarled up in local traffic.

As we were on the last approach towards Milan there was an upswing in the number of trucks and we noticed the first ‘road girl’ out on the side of the road ready to do ‘business’ in the 25C heat of the afternoon.

Shortly after this we noticed the first window washer person working an intersection with his bottle of water or whatever they have in it. He didn’t bother us as he was getting amongst the traffic in a road that came across ours.

We didn’t need to pay a toll to get ourselves around Milan on the Autostrada as the ring road was free and again we changed directions three times to come out the other side without seeing anything but the high rises of Milan in the distance.

The only small problem we had was where Gina didn’t quite keep up with the directions in time and we ended up a hundred metres off the highway but with the ability to rejoin it without having to go any further distance.

We left Milan behind as the outside temperature climbed to 27C and to check it out I wound the window down to gauge the difference between the 21C air conditioned temperature in the car to the 27C outside temperature.Yes, there was a noticeable difference and we were glad we weren’t out there walking in the heat this afternoon.

The principal airport for Milan is known as Malpensa and is situated well north west of the city.

The road that ran through the area surrounding the airport was covered in forest and the A8 often ran below the surface of the land in tunnels with one of them 1km in length. We lost count of the number of tunnels and we are still not quite sure why the road set up was like this.

We also came across a large number of parking areas for people who had left their cars close to the airport while they flew off on business or a holiday. The car parks used up just enough space in clearings in the forest which was all rather different to the way you would usually see long term car parks close to an airport in open ground usually wasteland.

We left the A8 which went onto nearby Varese before ending while we turned onto the SS33 which hugged the lake edge of Lake Maggiore.

We found our Air BnB apartment easily and our host Melia was there to greet us as we pulled up. A lovely Italian lady who rambled off to us as she kissed us on both cheeks.It certainly was another very warm Italian welcome. Her husband Franco came over shortly afterwards to greet us as well.

We are going to be very comfortable here too with a panoramic view of Lake Maggiore from our bedroom and also a narrow balcony across the front of the apartment. In fact it is more than an apartment as it is the whole top floor of a house and the size is probably over 100 sq metres.

We had a quick trip out to do shopping for fresh items we needed such as dinners and stuff out of the chillers and then back to relax on the balcony and soak up the vastness of our view.

Four nights here might just not be enough!

PS: enjoy the Youtube clip of the theme to the 1969 movie 'The Italian Job' and all the magnificent scenery that is Italy!


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