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Chapter Thirteen

Day 33

Innsbruck -> Brenner Pass -> Lake Garda

Leaving Innsbruck we start to climb up out of the city on the motorway which passes close to the ski jump before crossing over the Europabrucke where there is a motorway service area and viewing platform across the bridge. Crossing the Brenner pass is now so simple as the road, which is motorway all the way, contains many bridges and makes for an easy climb. The scenery is stunning and there is still quite a bit of snow around. Passing over the top and into Italy is hardly noticable as there are now no border controls. The descent down the other side is equally beautiful and one notices the change of building style in the houses. Near the bottom just before entering Vipiteno/Sterzing a cablecar passes over the road as it makes its way up the mountain. Here there is also a very large overnight stopping area for lorries and motorhomes. The facilities are excellent showers, toilets, hotel and restaurant and all very reasonable. The road continues to drop down, more slowly now, along a long valley. We continue and pass through Bolzano and Trento where we stop for a while to do a little shopping and enjoy a coffee in the main square and enjoy the view across to the Cathedral on the far side of the square. Trento is a realy pleasant place to stop and the cathedral is a wonderful building to visit but unfortunately we are unable to stay for long. We continue on our way towards Lake Garda and the town of Riva at the top. We find the camperstop and park up before taking a walk along the lakeside towards the Town. A little early in the season for the shops and hotels but it is also very enjoyable to wander around without the large crowds of people who will be here in the summer.

Lake Garda is a beautiful lake with mountains rising up high on all sides, a small chapel sits halfway up the mountainside cut into the rock (We took our Binoculars to have a closer inspection). Across the front towards the lake sits a harbour full of boats, men cleaning them in the warm sunshine ready for the Spring and Summer. We take a walk to the front passing them, in the hope someone offers us a ride but to no avail. A special secure section at the base of the lake has been made especially for divers and we notice some down in the clear waters. We start to walk along the lakeside but after a few minutes we decide we are heading in the wrong direction, but before turning completely around we head up a few steps into what seems like the old walls of the town. At the top there are a few benches over- looking the pier so we sit for a while and watch the going-ons while we ate our large ice creams from the Gelateria which seems to be open all year round, thank goodness!. After heading back down the steps, we head for the far side of the town walking along the lake. A campsite has prime position but we pass it on the new board walk that has been created along the clear waters. The pathway gives way to small islands, joined up by the new pathway that has been created here. Trees have been planted here and the small ‘islands’ will make the perfect place to have a family picnic. There is also an enclosure in the water for a windsurfing school and of course a mini-golf.

We go back onto the main road and call into the small supermarket for a few essentials before heading back to the motorhome. The motorhome stop here can hold around 35 vans and has water and toilet facilities and there is even a shower in the toilet block although it was locked whilst we were there.

Day 34

Riva / Milan

Leaving Riva on the wonderful Lake Garda was made a little easier in the knodwledge that we were going to Milan, the City of History and Fashion! It also has the symbol of a snake eating a child as a coat of arms, but im choosing to ignore that fact for now. We make our way out of the town and along the lake. The roads are winding and many tunnels have been built into the mountain side to allow the traffic to pass through. The road rises and falls giving many different vantage points for photos, and we make sure we make the most of them all. The sky is deep blue and the water sparkles in its beauty. The mountains on the far side are luscious green and its mountain tops are shinnning white with new snow falls. Small towns line the lake and When one thinks of a perfect postcard, this has to be it.

After a lovely days drive, the end seemed so close as we entered the town of Como on the lake. The funicular railway was lit up on the side of the mountain and the lights shimmered on the lake along with the early evening moonlight. Busy streets with bars and restaurants gave the town a strong vibrant feeling. We drove through admiring its beauty on the lake, but knowing we were not staying stopped us from spending too much time and as quick as we had entered we left by the mountain road on the opposite side. We continued to the town of Monza, were we thought about staying for the night. The Sat Nav gave us a number of Campsites around the track which we hoped would be open. I for one was extremely looking forward to it, as being a Formula 1 fan, the name of Monza evokes many sporting highlights. Upon reaching the track, we come upon a roundabout with a statue of the track in the middle, we turned into the campsite, where unsuprisingly we find it shut! ( but at least I can now say I have know been to the track…..kind of).

Now in desperate need of somewhere to stay we look in our Aires book and find one in Milan, on the south side. It is about 40 mile but not too bad. We leave Monza driving past a large Palace looking building called “Villa Reale” (Very Similar to the Palace at Rastatt). We were staying off the motorways as the Italian Motorways can become expensive, but by doing so we also get to enjoy alot more of the landscape. We drove through the centre of Milan towards our Aires, excited by the thought of were we were. The streets were busy even though late in the day and people were enjoying the famous Italian Cuisine and Wine in the restaurant windows as we passed. We then had our attention drawn to the Police convoy speeding past us. Included in their entourage was a coach with the Atalanta football team who would be facing AC Milan in the next day or so at the famous San Siro Stadium.

We slowly left the town behind us and we suddenly hit countryside, amazing to think the town centre was only a few miles behind us. And there it was, “Agrarturistica Cascina Gagioli”, our Italian Country farm….in Milan (Strange!) We drove in and parked alongside five other vans. Their were showers and toilets as well as electric, all included in the price €20 for the first night and €15 there after. A little dearer than usual but for location and safety in Milan well worth it. A notice board informs us of where to get the tram/bus (Number 24) into the centre of Milan and also where to buy tickets. (All only a five minute walk from our stop). We plug into the electric, indulge in the delightfully hot showers and open a nice bottle of Italian red. All in all a good day and very pleased with our location.

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