Isola di San Paolo, Lago d’Iseo.
3rd August, 2004. After arrival about 1 pm we walked in to Sarnico, had an ice cream, visited the tourist office and shopped at the Italmark supermarket on the way back to the apartment. Later we enjoyed a swim in the pool. It is by the edge of the lake in our garden. [The fridge door kept on swinging open.]
4th August. I was awoken early (5 am) on account of my snoring which was audible to Molly my wife. (I was on the futon in the living room with Peter.) Being hot I got up and went and sat by the lake, watching the dawn. The automatic sprinklers were at work, keeping the grass watered before the sun got too hot; eventually I had to make a rapid retreat when they started up near me. I was dozing in a chaise longue when I saw a small head swimming in the lake – a mini Loch Ness monster – a snake; they are prevalent here. I hope they are grass snakes. Later I saw another. [The lake was very still in the early morning, with almost perfect reflections; later it was choppy and the water less clear, because of the wash of boats.]
Later we all walked into the village of PREDORE – along a very dangerous road (lots of traffic and no footpath) which we would not have taken had we known. Nevertheless we saw some interesting things especially an Art Nouveau villa. Peter was after a sports newspaper but the shop had shut at 12 (we were there after 12.30). Molly and Polly returned early from our walk; they did not go as far as Peter and me. We had an ice cream “Maxicono” each (Molly and Polly had also had one on the way back as we learnt later). In p.m. Molly and the two teenagers spent most of their time in the piscina (swimming pool). Polly has been very grumpy because 1. It is dull (!). 2. It is not hot enough. 3. It is too hot. 4. She has sore feet. But time in the pool and sunbathing improved her mood. We had tuna salad and rice for our evening meal. Mum planned our trip for tomorrow.
A lot of the ironwork on gates and railings round here is Art Nouveau. The weather has been humid rather than hot; but with a welcome breeze. A large frog sometimes shares the pool with us – rather to Polly’s disgust. In our apartment the windows, doors and even the frames of the bedroom mirrors are made without mitres (i.e butt jointed). Is this general in Italy?
I have brought Leaving Home by Garrison Keillor as my holiday book.
5th August (Thursday). The books on the shelves of Italmark supermarket are all paperbacks except for the Harry Potter translations, which are hardback editions! The other authors are mostly Stephen King, John Grisham, Patricia Cornwell (i.e. American thrillers, translated into Italian) with very few Italian authors; but some.
The villa we passed on the way to Predore is quite unlike anything we have in England. In size and ambition it is perhaps comparable to a Lutyens house of the same period, but ostentatious where the English house would be concealed, domestic and understated. National character will out.
I want to buy a pen. I am tired of writing in red ink.
There are very few mountain bikes – I haven’t seen one. There are a lot of racing bikes, and for older people, tourers. Of the latter, all are women’s frames. Having put all this down in black and white [blue and white] I now have to back track and say I have seen 2 mountain bikes and numerous middle aged men riding diamond frame (i.e. men’s framed) bikes.
Took the trip up virtually the whole length of the lake from Sarnico to Lovere. We went by boat and came back on two buses. One: From Lovere to Tavernola; the young busdriver went very fast round hairpin bends & thru tunnels. Scary. Two: The older driver of the bus from Tavernola to Sarnico drove slowly along peaceful roads. He had a rosary hanging from his driving mirror. We felt safe.
The North end of the lake is bleaker than the Sarnico end, the mountains taller and more craggy and nearer the water. There is more industry too (that means quarries). The best part of the boat trip was seeing Monte Isola, a delightful port (Peschiera Maraglio), and Isola di San Paolo. Weather a bit misty but bright. Not too hot.
6th August. [Bergamo] We have operatic arias rehearsed by a young lady. This went on all afternoon at the hostel.
7th August. We have been messed around by the Youth Hostel where we arrived yesterday; we have been moved from our room. But with reviews on the internet we will have ample opportunity to take our revenge! This morning we went to the old town and castle. Had some delicious pizza. Peter was in a BAD MOOD.
Later after a shower I wandered out onto the balcony without a shirt. “You are such a hippo-” said Polly. I was mortified; my daughter was comparing me to a hippopotamus! “Hypocrite” she said (I had earlier been stressing the importance of covering up in the sun). I was relieved. I didn’t resemble a hippo after all.
We went round the art gallery in the lower town. A lot of fine paintings including a Raphael, but I kept on setting off the alarm by getting too close and attracting the attention of the attendant. How different from the gallery in Venice I went round in 1968 with Bill. There we were completely alone in the gallery with any number of priceless masterpieces and quite free to get within touching distance of any of them. There were no alarms in those days.