Monday June 3 – Tuesday June 4 Mandello Del Lario to home

I had the best night sleep – it is so quiet here, just like at home. We had breakfast of yoghurt, croissants, bread and coffee before packing for the final time. Cannot believe this is our last day here! We walked to the Moto Guzzi shop and got spares for Dave’s bike and then drove to Varenna. We caught the ferry to Belagio and walked around – what a beautiful place. We then got the ferry back before walking around Varenna and having lunch at Nilus Bar. Two paninis and a bottle of water cost €11.50. Gelato flavours today was nutella for me and pistachio for Dave. We then drove back to Mandello Del Lario and walked around before taking the tour of the Moto Guzzi museum. It was fantastic. After that we drove to Como. We drove around a fair bit, did some last minute shopping, walked around a bit and then drove to the airport. We checked in, collected all our boarding passes and spent some time in the business class lounge. The food was nothing spectacular but it had a bathroom and it was away from the crowds. We caught an Avro RJ100 to Zurich and after going through passport control went to the Diners Club lounge. What a mission to get in! The food was better but they don’t have bathrooms or showers. Amazingly OR Tambo even have a lounge with a shower after customs! We flew on an A340-300 and I slept a bit! The food was average and the staff were very polite. We landed on time despite leaving late, went through passport control, collected our bags and cleared customs SAA have a baggage check in as you come out of international arrivals which is fantastic. We are now in the business class lounge waiting for our flight home.

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Sunday June 2 Bologna, Milan, Mandello Del Lario

This morning we packed up, had an espresso and caught the train to Milan. The central station has had an upgrade since we were last there in 2003. We left our baggage at the airport (€5 per case) and caught the metro to Lanzo station. We went to Castello Sforzesco which we stumbled upon when we were on honeymoon. It too has had an upgrade. Sadly the Da Vinci painting we came to take a picture of is not on display as the room is being ‘renovated’. Historians are trying to recover fresco’s painted by Da Vinci in the room. We did however manage to get a picture of the Pieta. This is the work Michalangelo was busy with when he died. On Tuesday this section of the museum will be closed for historical work. We then got the metro back to Milano Centrale and caught the Malpensa express to the airport. We bought lunch at the Carrefour and collected our car to drive to Lake Como. We drove 65km before getting out of the urban region and now we can see the snow capped mountains.  We are spending one night in Mandelo Del Lario in the house where the first Moto Guzzi was built. The house is owned by the son of the man who helped Guzzi get started.  After a tour of the workshop and cellar we sat and had a glass of wine with Gianni and his friend. We then walked around the old city and the kale, stopping for gelato on the way. Dave had chocolate and I had biscotto del nonna. The restaurant we were recommended, 20m away was closed so we walked to the old city. We had supper at Bar Roma. Dave had pasta arrabiata and I had pasta with salmon. We shared a bottle of red wine and salad and the bill came to $40.50. We then walked back to the B&B and checked in to our flights back home.

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Saturday June 1 Bologna

After a relaxing morning of coffee in bed and scrambled eggs with pancetta for breakfast, the day has begun. We bought a 24 hour bus pass (€4 each) and caught the bus to get to the market area east of Piazza Magiore. We bought clams from Pesceria L’Adeiatica(€3) and taglietelle from Paolo Atti & Figli (€4.59) for supper. We also got bread rolls for lunch to go with proscuitto and cheese from Simoni (€7.58). We then walked back to the apartment and attempted a short cut which took us down homeless ally! Unfortunately the gate was locked and we had to walk past the ‘toilet’ where some dude was taking a leak and smiling at me! We walked past the ‘bedroom’ and the dining room – a couple were having their lunch. Back to the main road and we walked in front of the walkway back to the apartment to drop off the shopping and have an early lunch. We caught a bus to Via Saragozza and walked down to Villa Sparda where we should have caught the bus to the top of San Luca. Instead we got the bus to the bottom of the steps and walked up to the Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca 269 meters above sea level. We missed the down bus by 10 minutes and so we walked the 2.276km back down. There are 350 arches on the walk and a LOT of stairs. At the top I filled our water bottle from the taps that exist all over Italy. These taps run constantly and supply cold fresh water to everyone. In Venice we saw people collecting the water in buckets! We then caught a bus so we could get close via Santo Stefano. In this street is the Cremaria Santo Stefano and we had the best gelato of our trip. Dave had a limone granite medio (€3.30) and I had cioccolato del santa – dark chocolate, and pistacchio di Bronte – gelato grande (€3.80). After that we caught another bus and got off near AF Tamburini, where we shopped this morning, before walking to see the canal at Via Piella. This and trying to see the waterfall at Caffè Opera e Tulipani on via Alessandrini were not worth it due to the scaffolding. We then took a slow walk back to the apartment stopping at Swine on via Augusto for prosecco (€12) and then watching a protest march. The riot police were in full force and the protest was against austerity measures. We could see very few Italians in the group. Mostly Indians and Blacks. I would love to be watching Sky news tonight! We then did some shopping at the Coop before coming back to the apartment. Tonight for a change we are drinking Birra Di Frumento non filtrata. Crackers to go with topped with salame Milano. We decided to have prosecco with our meal. We chose a bottle of Rocco dei Forti. Dave made a sauce of shallots, garlic, chilli, tomato and courgette to go with the clams and taglietelle. The clams were steamed with prosecco and made a fantastic broth. We finished our meal with kiwi fruit and strawberries with cream. We then finished the cheese and pesto on a few crackers before calling it a night!

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