Milano airport out of the way it was towards Gaino where we were to stay for a couple of days. Went through Salo where Mussolini was captured and then freed by his supporters. Although he was recaptured fairly quickly he managed to declare a Republic in a desperate attempt attempt to stay in power. We stopped of in a small village in the hope of catching a festival but it was all over. Managed my first taste of Italian chocolate, thick, dark and sweet. Ruairiadh,
however did not seem impressed with his coffee although he did buzz a little after. Made to our destination in good time at the Scuderia Castello above the village of Gaino. Meal out as there was a baby naming at Scuderia.
After breakfast this morning we headed up to Prabione di Tignale to visit a
forest/museum up in the clouds above Lake Garda. On the way there and back picked up some valuable views and info about project funding and rhododendron control. Food is turning out to be a major part of this adventure, and the lunch time pizza con tartufo, mozzarella e furghi porcini was magnificent. On the way we called into a small farmer’s market.
We made it back just in time to climb on board Asterix, my horse, for the next two hours. Following our impish guide, Giovanni, we set off through the hils and streets of Gaino. Although a wee bit sore by the second hour wandering past rows of vines and ubiquitous olive groves, through the Romanesque streets was a profound experience. Company great although Asterix played up almost all the way by trying to eat everything in his path causing minor traffic jams for Jenny and John behind. Noticeable that every scrap of ground had growth, whether tomatoes, pomegranete trees, bay trees or just salad leaves.
Only a short respite and it was into the van and following Giovanni again, this time up the mountain to his other place in the mists. We stopped and walked while he set off to warm the house up and begin the cooking. Find it hard to describe the evening of camaraderie, exchanging of life stories and again listening to different views on land reform, politics, conservation and forestry. General view that compared to Europe, Scotland is a mess. Bare hills due to overgrazing of deer and sheep. I can hear the crafter saying that you cannot live of trees but the quality of the environment would be so radically enhanced as to produce so much more food that this is a fairly daft statement to spout.
. The Lugana wine flowed as did the Prosecco and Giovani then produced a 21 year old malt for us to guess its provenience. We al thought west coast and guessed Islay but were thrown by the Japanese origin. Tasted ok. First drink in ten or so years and probably the last but was in keeping with the general ambience of the evening. Food was stunning with a salty ham pasta followed by cheese, anchovies and bread. The cheese that caught the attention was the one made from cows milk after they had been feeding on saffron. Finished of with nectarines soaked in red wine. Italian compadres turned up to join in the eating and craic. We will be heading north to meet them later today. Evening finished about midnight and a last tidy up it was back off down the mountain in the dark. Finally happy with coffee.
“Tonight we came up as strangers
we walked up through the mist
but we will leave as friends
full of great food and half pissed”
The above courtesy of Ruariadh early on. It was one of those special days and sleep turned out to be a little elusive. Ended the night by listening to Gerry Rafferty’s song lyric “Whatever is written in your heart is all that matters”…….so true