Monte Isola

With great sadness, we left our Grand Canal terrace and garden. We would have been very happy to spend another week/month/year there.

We trained it to Verona. Lorna and I had gone there 20 years ago, and for some reason I remembered exactly where everything was. This is odd because when we went to Bergamo a couple of years ago, I had initially no recollection of having visited there before even though we had parked in exactly the same car park!

Juliet’s balcony was horrible (as last time). The children wanted to see where Letters to Juliet was filmed. Grandma persuaded Tilly to rub the statue’s right breast. Large numbers of women were pushing their way through to ensure long term love. It was pretty unseemly, and – as they were jostling the children to get their place on the pedestal – I thought it was unlikely that their dreams would be fulfilled.

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The August heat made wandering the streets a difficult experience, so we headed up to Giardini Giulio with its exemplary views over the city. I sensed the party behind me were not enjoying the route march there, but they soon were quietened when they realised that this was a haven of quiet and shade.

We left my parents behind in Verona (they had tickets for the Opera) and took the train to Lake Iseo, the smallest of the Italian Lakes. We played dominos on the train and watched the countryside fly by.

We like lake holidays. The non-salty water is kind on Tilly’s excema (which has cleared up a lot in the last year) and you get the same beach experience. A couple of days previously, we had gone for a day at Venice Lido beach. It is a great beach, but Tilly wouldn’t go into the sea.

Lake Garda is too crowded to get around; Lake Como is wonderful, beautiful houses and gardens everywhere and – in the North – great watersports. But we wanted to try somewhere new, so Lake Iseo it was. Most of you know that Lorna’s first criteria for a holiday is that there are few English people there (preferably none). We have seen only Italians so far, so a big tick for her.

We are staying on Monte Isola, the largest island in the lake. Traditionally, it makes boats and nets for fishing. In recent years, it has branched out into making nets for Serie A football. They have a reputation for quality, though this may be because most Italian games I have watched don’t put any pressure on the net.

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There is an alimentari that stocks everything except fruit and veg. We therefore had to go to mainland for fruit and veg.

We have timed our visit to perfection, as the annual Festa is taking place while we are here. The whole village eats together every night. There is a signature dish every night plus a few other choices. Tilly was distressed to find Carvello con Rucola on the menu for the first night (and no it wasn’t the Rocket that disturbed her). Last night’s Stracotta d’Asina con Polenta was not much better for her. They clearly have something against equines.

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The food is priced in lira, which shows either a backward-looking community or – given the state of Italian finances – perhaps a very prescient one.

There is also a band every night. Personally, I’m looking forward to Hotel Stupido on Tuesday night.

Nancy and I cycled around the island (9 km of hills) yesterday and we also went for a swim in the Lake. We have a sailing course for the next 2 days. Happy times.

Twitter handle: @julianxbishop

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