Wednesday, November 30, 2011
zooming around lago di garda
the drive along the western shore of lago di garda surprised me. i expected early november in northern italy to be chilly and the mountains on both sides of the lake to be covered in snow.
instead, it was warm—there was not a speck of snow even on the tallest dolomite peaks—and, in addition to olives and grapes growing on every spare patch of ground (including almost vertical groves clinging to the mountainsides; how sturdy and tenacious the plants are—and that description also holds true for the farmers who tend these crops), there were sunny, bright lemon and orange trees full of fruit, and clusters of palm trees greeted us, making the lakeside seem like a mini tropical paradise.
the towns surrounding the lake enjoy a climate influenced by the tall peaks and garda's warm water—they are in their own mild micro-climate.
low clouds persisted on the day we motored along the shore in our little lancia, zooming through tunnel after tunnel carved out of solid rock at the edge, at the precise point, where the mountains meet garda. then we ascended the steep, snaky roads up to tignale and montecastello.
the frighteningly narrow roads—with plunging rock precipices directly outside the car window—hairpin turns and blind corners created an interesting excursion, especially when the weather turned even cloudier and we encountered bicyclists along the way. looking at the positive side, it didn't rain so we didn't have to add slippery roads to the already treacherous drive.
but on a more negative note, the images i took from almost 2000 feet above the lake at montecastello do not clearly show the lake below and the mountain peaks on the eastern shore due to the poor visibility. yet even with the cloud cover the views across the lake were stunning and our explorations up there made for a great day.