For 10 blissful days we are on vacation. And if I could be anywhere taking a road trip with my family, any place in the world, it would be exactly here.
Living right next door to Italy means we can take a vacation simply by loading up on Pringles and hopping in the car. Even in peak tourist season, crowds are worth it to be in Italy! We decided to drive down by the northern route, stopping in Brixen for pizza and to buy some skinny jeans for the boys. Italian clothes seem cliché, but they fit so well on our skinny family! We reached Casa Del Pitorre in the hills above Rovereto with enough daylight to watch the sun fade through the trees, and take a late afternoon swim.
Rovereto is famous (or not) for being the front line between Austria and Italy during World War I. Today it overlooks a valley covered with vineyards and is the home of the Peace Bell, made from the melted bronze of cannons donated by all the countries involved in the war. It still rings daily at sunset, and we listened to it ring that evening while swimming at Casa del Pittore. That means “House of the Painter” in Italian.
The “pool” was just a hot tub, but at this age that is all Eli and Jake need to be in heaven.
All Mommy needs is a cappuccino, and maybe a beautiful cup. The ginger juice is mixed with fresh apples from the orchard, and for breakfast the owner made homemade pear tarts.
Rovereto was a bit off the beaten path, but exactly the kind of normal Italian city with cats and cafes we were hoping for. Small, with window boxes full of flowers, and narrow streets with thick walls of crumbling, colored plaster. Eli observed that “Italy is old. The walls aren’t in very good shape.” He’s right. It’s so interesting to see Old World Charm through the eyes of a 10-year old. When does “old” become “charming?”
That night it rained while we had pizza, a fantastic storm with thunder and lightening that caught us unprepared and with no choice but to walk home with upturned faces, smiling at the rain.
The storm was so sudden that even the locals were impressed. Black clouds roiled overhead with such menace that the waitress made us move inside. For an Italian, there really could be nothing worse than soggy pizza!
The next day we parked our car in an olive grove and spent the afternoon swimming at the Bay of Sirens in Lake Garda.
It was hot! So hot I had to take all our emergency chocolate to the beach with me so it wouldn’t melt in the car. These are the little pearls of travel wisdom that can only be gained through years of experience, and sad puddles of melted chocolate. Not this time!
An afternoon at the beach is a wonderful way to observe that Italians on vacation aren’t so different from everyone else. Little kids run away from their parents with no pants on, and young people slather themselves in oil while rotating their different angles to the sun. One thing I like about Europe is that young, elderly, infant, and middle-aged all mingle together in public places. I also like that you can get a glass of Prosecco at the beach.
There are Eli and Jake out there, toe-to-toe on their rafts. They’re old enough now to have little muscles showing up on their chests, but still young enough to show me the ducks, and comb through sand collecting shells. “Did a clam used to live here, Mom? This must be almost 100 years old!”
The rafts were Mike’s idea. Eighteen dollars spent on pool rafts for kids, even if they get popped or left outside to blow away in a windstorm, might be the best return on an investment anyone could ever hope for.
When it was time to go we went back to change our clothes in the olive grove, and pointed the car towards Assisi. We could probably spend a week here in Lake Garda too, but now it is on to Umbria!