The single most important thing that determines the start of the day is breakfast. So let’s skip the croissants and coffee and eat something real. It was a cloudy Monday morning, the streets were empty and slightly chilly, we stopped by a local enoteca and ordered a bruschetta Margherita with a glass of white.
Sirmione seems much less like a tourist trap if you see it on a weekday. There are still travellers there, but only about a quarter of the Sunday’s numbers. The clouds were thick and looked like it was going to rain.
We decided to take a ferry trip up the lake and back, got tickets and still had a few hours to kill before the departure. Went back to the car to go for a quick grocery run. It started raining while we were walking to the parking lot, and it rained pretty hard. Got an umbrella on the way (for €10 who could say no?). Found a grocery store with the help of the GPS, bought some prepackaged croissants and bottled water for the trip and just in case. Got back to the old town just as the rain ended. Caught more birds in the water by the pier.
Finally our ferry arrived and took us out of Sirmione. Destination: Malcesine, close to the north end of the lake.
And then we were finally at Malcesine.
It was so pleasant and calm, we kept looking at the lake and the hills, taking pictures, acting silly… It kind of struck us eventually that our return boat should be leaving in 5 minutes. And it was the last boat of the day. And we had 5 minutes to walk back. But I had to take another picture.
About a hundred meters from the docks, we heard a tell tale whistle and rushed faster. It was too late. The boat left without us. According to our phones’ clocks it left at least 2 minutes early, but there was nothing anyone could do except to tell us that we can take a bus from Malcesine to Peschiera, and a taxi from there to Sirmione. Awesome.
At this point I became unexpectedly upset. It just seemed completely inappropriate for us to miss the boat and get stuck somewhere like that. My partner thankfully managed to bring me to some senses as arguably, it was far from the worst place to get stuck in, by any account.
The bus fare was remarkably cheap (€4 per person), and the bus was not to leave until a few hours later. Having suddenly several more hours to spend there, we took a walk around, bought a pair of earrings and shoes for me (retail therapy is an FDA approved treatment, after all) and took more pictures.
This time around, I insisted on getting to the bus stop an hour in advance and just sticking around there. It was a fairly busy road running quite a bit above the water level, but still nowhere near the tops of the nearby mountains. There is actually a cable car running from Malcesine to one of the peaks, and it’s something to consider if the weather is clear.
Unlike the ferry, the bus was a little late. Once we boarded, it took us around the curved roads along the lake. Considering the size of the bus and the curves on the road, the driving style was definitely way out of the league of any bus drivers I have encountered in Canada. He was not exactly crazy, but somewhat frisky, perhaps.
Once we reached Perschiera, it was time to order a taxi. So I get out my fancy pants phone, find a number of a taxi and ask for one to be dispatched to me. Where to, they ask? Well, to the bus stop. Signora, there are many bus stops in Perschiera, which one are you at? Hm, the one where the buses stop, the intercity ones. The station. You know?
It would have lasted a while to the entertainment of my partner and another undisclosed observer, but if only I turned around and looked, I would have seen a taxi parked just a few meters away. They are not stupid, they hang around the bus stations just like they do in Toronto, to help you make those last few kilometres to your destination. The undisclosed observer was, of course, the taxi cab driver, who had about enough of me trying to order a taxi by phone and came over to offer his services directly. Good call on his part.
The final part of the trip took about 20 minutes, during which the sunset reached its most dramatic deep red stage. Did not take any pictures but enjoyed the ride. Talked a little bit with the taxi driver. Does he like the city he lives in? Huh! Of course he does. His city is the most beautiful city! Verona.
Upon returning to Sirmione we dropped off our bags and the umbrella and headed out to eat. This time we did get a seat at the restaurant we wanted and had a terrific time. We actually ended up tipping to the waitress, everything was just that good. You normally do not tip in restaurants in Italy, it’s not expected at all, unlike in North America. However, great service does deserve recognition. The atmosphere, the attention, the food – everything was just perfect. The restaurant was Osteria al Torcol.
The next day would bring another change of scenery, as we will be heading out of Sirmione to Milano.