Every weekend here starts with these words. In a few weeks it is going to become a tradition to meet V. at Piazza Maggiore and start a weekend-long Italian adventure. This time, after an absolutely delicious cena made by M&D, night in Bologna and not that long sleep, Sabato morning was not the easiest one: the head was not functioning properly (guess because of all the wine), the feet were not moving fast enough, but still, even though we had to run to catch our train, we were just on time.
Initially, my and V. plan was Bologna-Mantova- Reggio Emilia but instead of Reggio Emilia we ended up in a town settled by Lago di Garda and called Peschiera del Garda.
So… We jumped on the train Bologna-Modena-Mantova and relaxed for several hours. When we reached our final destination, Mantova welcomed us with bright sun, cosy hotel and all the heavy heads and slow feet were forgotten after the second cup of espresso.
Mantova is a bit different then Bologna. Smaller, even cosier and even more (if that is even possible) Italian. During medieval times the city was surrounded by a protecting water ring, consisting of four lakes: Lago Superiore, Lago di Mezzo, Lago Inferiore ir Lago Pajolo. Nowadays, there are only three lakes left surrounding the city as Lago Pajolo dried up around the 19thcentury. Still, even with the dried lake the city does not lose its charm. Oh, by the way, because of these lakes it gets really foggy here, like scary foggy…
The old town is not big so a full day is more than enough to see everything. . Palazzo Ducale, Rotonda di San Lorenzo, Cattedrale di San Pietro, Palazzo del Te, Basilica di Sant’Andrea, Piazza Sordello, Torre dell’Orologio are just a few places that are worth looking… Or just try and get lost in the city… I mean, there is nothing better than getting lost in the city and actually getting to know from the inside more as a local rather than a tourist. The only place that, for me, was a bit of a disappointment was the exhibition held in Pallazo del Te.
Everybody knows that Italy and food match each other as great as Mozarella and pizza and, after this long, long day we headed out for a dinner. Finding a place to eat in Mantova is quite a challenge: the ones we looked online and were recommended by travellers, tables needed to be booked, some places were extraordinary expensive, so we ended up in a local trattoria with my first and, yet, still the very best tortelli di zucca. Mmm…! And then we had Mostarda di frutti– fruits in a mustard sauce. The taste is so different from anything I have ever tried. It is good, maybe a bit unexpected but worth the try (Grappa does not go well with this)…
After a very productive Sabato (which sounds more like a jewish holiday then a day of the week..) tasty breakfast, all new and shiny me and V. decided to continue our journey. Now, instead of going to Reggio Emilia we decided to go even more north and visit Lago di Garda, one of the most beautiful lakes in Italy. Of course, Domenica is not the greatest day to take trains in Italy, the life mostly stops here and our train Mantova-Verona was cancelled and the bus was not in a hurry to leave… But, everything turned out well and in the early afternoon we were already enjoying beautiful views of Peschiera del Garda. Bluish green water, snowy mountains, sun, palm trees and quietness….Reminded so much of Lithuanian Curonian Spit!
The only a bit bad thing while traveling for me and V. was that on Sundays we always arrive to a place between 14:00 and 17:00- the time in Italy, when no self-proud osteria or trattoria works and we end up having some Panini or piadini…
For the end. On the way back to Bologna, for 2 very, very long and cold hours we sat on the chairs in between the carriages of the train and after this there was nothing better than to lie on the bed and do nothing for the rest of the evening.