Scene 1: Road trip to Garda!
We had a plan.The plan was to drive Carmelita (the black truck pictured below) from Bellagio to Garda. But Carmelita had other plans. She was leaking brake fluid and definitely not feeling up for a road trip. So, we drove Carmelita to Lecco and rented a Fiat for the drive.
Ronnie hopped in the driver’s seat and we were ready to start our road trip!
But first, we had to figure out how to start the car. We had no key and no ignition to insert a key. Puzzled, we looked at each other and laughed. “How the heck do you start this car????”
After a few minutes, Ronnie had the car running. Now we were ready to start our road trip!
But first, we had to put the car in reverse to back out of a parking spot.
Hmmmm…….both of us tried to figure out.
You should just have to push the shifter up and to the left, correct?
Every time we thought it was in the “R” position, Ronnie pressed on the gas and we went forward instead of backward. Minutes passed as we were now laughing hysterically due to the fact that we had no idea what to do! Eventually, after many trials and errors and laughter, we were going in reverse!
What was the trick? You had to pull up on a lever on the shifter in order to engage it in reverse. Who would have thought?
Everyone. Everyone but us would have thought of this.
How does it feel to drive a stick shift in traffic in Italy when you’re used to driving a golf cart?
Like this. It feels like this.
On the way to Garda, we stopped for a snack of brioche and cappuccinos. What’s brioche? Brioche is Italian for croissant. But, these were not just any croissants. These brioches were stuffed with white chocolate! Sooooo delicious.
Ronnie got to drive on the Autostrade. He had fun driving the Fiat fast at an average of 90 mph. (Which is really fast considering we are used to driving 15 mph!) The drive from Lecco to Garda was approximately 2 hours.
Scene 2: Night one in Garda – A scary tunnel, shopping with wine and relentless seafood.
When we arrived in Garda, we checked into our apartment.
We rented the apartment on Airbnb and it was perfect for us. It was just a 10-minute walk to town center, had a view of the lake, a very comfortable bed, and a swimming pool. The best part? It was only $50.00 a night. Here is the link to the apartment for anyone who is interested.
The bar, restaurant, and pool were located at the top of a steep hill. But the climb was so worth it!
We drank a couple of icy beers while enjoying the view of Lake Garda.
Afterwards, we walked to the Garda town center.
The apartment complex is located across the street from the lake and we were told instead of crossing the street, that we should just use the tunnel.
Yup, this tunnel. Not very scary during the day, but at night?
Very scary. Especially because there is a locked gate on one end and very little light.
Needless to say, we only used the tunnel the first night.
We will take our chances on crossing the road, thank you very much!
If a chicken can cross the road, we can too!
The tunnel opened up to this lakeside path. So gorgeous.
The path leads all the way to the town center.
On our walk, we spotted this beach bar and grabbed a few drinks.
Here are Lisa’s boots on a beach in Italy. We are used to being barefoot on a beach, but this worked too!
We left the beach bar and walked into town center to discover – surprise, surprise – another waterfront bar that sold liters of wine!
While we were enjoying our red wine with a view, this classic sailboat docked.
We watched this fisherman pull in a few fish.
And saw this unique boat fender/bumper. Instead of going to a store to by a typical rubber fender, somebody weaved one out of rope. (Looks like somebody has as much time on their hands as we do!)
Vica talked to a local who recommended we have dinner at Trattoria Al Graspo. All we knew about the restaurant was that it was all you can eat food and all you can drink wine for 30 Euros per person. Sold. Vica called and made us a reservation for 9:00.
With a few hours to fill before dinner, we wandered around the sidewalks of Garda, which were basically outdoor malls. Every store overflowed outside and into the sidewalks.
But wait, you can’t shop without wine, right? Luckily, one of the bars poured “to go” cups of wine.
If Lisa wasn’t holding a cup of wine, she would definitely be giving two thumbs up!
Now we are ready to shop!
There were numerous shops with sunglasses –
And one shop that sold this incredible hat.
Yeah, it looked pretty sweet. It looked awesome. That hat, it’s… it’s incredible.
Before we knew it, it was 9:00 and time for dinner. We arrived at Trattoria al Graspo and were greeted by a friendly staff and seated promptly. Here’s the restaurant….as you can clearly see, this picture was taken the day after dinner. (Somehow we forgot to take a picture that night, wonder why……)
When we were seated, we were immediately given a bottle of wine and the waiters brought out plates and plates of food. There was no menu. No asking our food preferences. The meal was on and there was no stopping the flow of food coming out of the kitchen.
Whenever we would finish one plate, they would remove it and bring out another.
Ronnie’s new friend “The Prawn”. (But they weren’t friends very long, considering he ended up in Ronnie’s belly.)
We spent 3 hours in the restaurant and the only time they stopped bringing out food and wine is when we tapped out. We had to beg them, “Please, we are so full, no more food!” Which, for spending 30 Euros for a 3-hour dinner is definitely not a complaint.
When we paid our bill, they gave us 2 more free bottles of wine to go.
If you love seafood and can eat a lot of it, Trattoria Al Graspo is definitely the restaurant for you!
Scene 3: Change of plans due to weather and exhaustion
The next morning, our alarm rang at 7:00. Our plan was to take the ferry to Malcesine and ride the cable car to the top of the mountain. Rumor has it the views from the top are phenomenal. Unfortunately, it was just too cloudy and there wouldn’t be a view. So, we came up with a Plan B: let’s go back to sleep!
We woke up a few hours later and started the day all over again.
We walked back into Garda for some more sightseeing and lunch. It felt like everywhere we looked was picture worthy.
It was time to eat again, so we stopped into Taverna Fregoso for lunch.
We sat inside of a restaurant for the first time in a week and ordered Caprese salad, a garden salad and a pizza.
And of course red wine too!
The food was incredibly flavorful and was served with a smile. The one thing we really love about dining out in Italy is that the waiters do not stop by your table every 5 minutes to check on you. You order, they bring your food and then let you enjoy it. If you need them, just say excuse me and they come right over.
Later in the day, we saw this very detailed sign specifically explaining the steps on how to use the toilet. For the record, we don’t think any sort of “sanitizing spray” was released.
Another charming building in Garda, Italy.
For tonight’s dinner we decided to buy meat, cheese, bread and wine and just relax at the apartment. This little shop had everything we needed, except the bread.
Lots of choices…..
The deli clerk was very helpful in helping us pick a variety of meats and cheeses and then took so much care in slicing each one. We bought all of our meat, cheese and 2 bottles of really good red wine for only 20 Euros. On the way back to the apartment, we bought 2 small loaves of bread for .40 Euros.
Dinner is served!
We couldn’t finish all of the food, so Lisa put it in the refrigerator. Why are we telling you this? Because the refrigerator was the best part of our apartment. In order to open it, you had to pull out the wooden spoon.
And to close it? You had to stick the wooden spoon back. (By the way, all of these instructions were given to us by our host in Italian.)
Scene 4: Vroom vroom! Vespa day fun!
This day was one of our favorite days! We rented a bright red Vespa from Bella Bici Bike Rental and cruised around to several small towns around Lake Garda.
To read all about our Great Vespa Adventure, click here!
Too lazy to read? Click here to watch the video!
After three fun-filled days in Garda, it was time to say good-bye. Tomorrow we travel to Venice to start Act 3!