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Victor's and Barbara's Travel Diaries

            Italy 1999

From Austria, where it had started to rain incessantly, we resolved to head south across the Brenner Pass into Italy and the SudTirol, hoping for sunnier weather. We found the villages here less attractive, not so well maintained and tidy, generally drabber and greyer. We suppose the continuing heavy rain didn't help our impressions. Sudtirol is a German-speaking district of Italy, annexed from Austria in 1919. We got lost in heavy traffic in Bozen/Bolzano, and ended up staying at a dingy hotel "Casa Grande", built in 1520. The next day the weather improved, and we drove through sub-alpine meadows near Mezzolombardo, and walked along a forest path to a waterfall, with a view down a vertical drop to Molveno in the valley below. Lake Garda at Riva Del garda, ItalyWe went to Riva del Garda and finally found our Italian sunshine, though the view across the lake was extremely hazy. Riva is a lovely lakeside village, with pretty gardens all along the shore. The drive beside the lake 70 kms southwards should have been wonderful, but unfortunately the tunnels, the intense traffic, and the hundreds of motor bikes buzzing past us made this journey into an enormous headache. We then had huge trouble finding somewhere to stay, we looked in Salo at the southern tip of Lake Garda, without success, and ended up in Hotel Olive, high up above the lake. On Sunday 23rd May we drove along the autostrada to Venice, but we stayed in Lido di Jessolo at Hotel Sole Mare, right on the beachfront. Our balcony overlooked the myriads of geometrically ordered and gaily coloured umbrellas and deck-chairs on the beach, we marvelled at this strange sociological phenomenon! That evening we enjoyed a fantastic Pizza in a main street cafe. The following day we took a bus to Punto Sabbione, then the "vaporetto" boat to St Mark's Square, Venice. Victor by Rialto Bridge, Grand canal, VeniceWe explored on foot the byways along the little canals towards Piazale Roma, we took a snack lunch at a cafe, then caught a boat around the back of Venice, past the docks to Giudecca. Here we explored a bit, then sat and enjoyed a beer and lemonade right by the water's edge overlooking St.Mark's across the water. Giudecca Island, Venice, looking towards St Mark's.Then by boat again to San Giorgio, where we ascended the bell tower, still operated by monks, to see the incredible view of Venice. We then took the boat along the full length of the Grand Canal. Then we went to the island of Murano, and walked past the glass-blowing factories, but by now getting extremely tired. We then caught our last boat via Burano back to Punto Sabbione, and arrived back late at our hotel, utterly exhausted after an exhilarating day. We had to take it easy the next day, just wandering around Jessolo, we actually sat on "our" deck chairs on the beach and read the English newspapers.

We left Venice for Lake Como and enjoyed a quiet picnic right by the lake, between stately old lakeside villas. The view across the lake to the mountains was pretty but extremely hazy, you couldn't even see the end of the lake. In fact it had been smoggy all the way from Venice to Como. We then drove up into the Alps to Chiavenna and Montedolcino where we stayed in a new ski-hotel "Hotel Oriental". We crossed the Spl├╝gen Pass into Switzerland at 2117 metres, through snow and past an ice-covered lake. The Italian side here was derelict, most houses were abandoned  and there were no trees, whereas the Swiss side became suddenly very pretty, immaculately clean and tidy.