Giacomo popped out of the kitchen with a plate of fresh pineapple and told us we needn’t check out until the afternoon if we wanted. Obviously no clients due in today. He showed me the odd fruit I’d ignored yesterday and disappeared saying he would open one, a very good fruit from Mexico originally and full of vitamins. He came back and had peeled all five! Full of pips and tasteless sadly. I hope he can use the remaining four in one of his smoothies. We had a repeat of the red fruits one alongside the fresh orange mix.
Leaving was prolonged as he couldn’t find his card machine so Lou went down to the nearby (thank goodness) ATM. Then Giacomo presented me with a rose, two commemorative Bologna mugs and two small paper carrier bags, ‘for the journey’. He would have taken our suitcases to the carpark but we insisted he had done more than enough. Fond farewells all round.
Later inspection of the bags revealed bananas, pastries, four cartons of juice and three bags of typical Bologna biscuit goodies. Spending all his profits Lou said but very generous and thoughtful.
The GPS had its own ideas of how to pass Milan and, despite signs to avoid it, took us almost to the centre. Finally she plumped for the Lecco road and we drove towards the mountains expectantly.
The road up the left/west side of the Lecco arm of the lake is one we were unfamiliar with and there were two or three long tunnels and many bends to negotiate. A bus came bearing down on us blowing its horn round one bend. A car who had been following is a bit too closely started to keep a decent distance behind us! The views up and across the lake were stunning, camera clicking all the way.
A rise in the road away from the lakeside and we were in Bellagio. The GPS took us right the edge of the lakeside amongst car parking, bus stop and bars and gave up. Used to this after Genoa we parked up and walled to the hotel through crowds that resembled rocamadour in august! Calmer inside the hotel we checked in and got the map to bring the car to outside for unloading. Easier said than done! We had to drive right around the pedestrianised centre of Bellagio. Glares on all sides as we crept along trying to avoid small children and dogs. Unloading achieved we had to repeat the trauma to get to the hotel’s secure parking. Luckily we could follow another car so he got all the grief.
Up in our room we threw open the window on the view we remembered. Bliss. The guys on the desk had told us the tourists go by six o’clock and, sure enough, we watched the exodus onto the boats from the little dock opposite the hotel.
Walking around later we were unable to find Lou’s warmly remembered grappa shop. I had forgotten how many steeply stepped alleys there were. Younger knees back then. And so busy. Even fifteen years ago it hadn’t been this packed.
But the magic was still there. We grabbed a table at the water’s edge and enjoyed an aperitif and the sound of water lapping against the stones.
Later we found a restaurant for the evening meal and they had a long list of grappas available. Lou found the one he liked and was brought a large glass! Bad news, the grappa shop was long gone, good news, the wine shop next door sold it. So Lou had his bottle of precious liquor and I had my room with a view. Result!