Day 18: Wine Country

And not that chintzy California wine country, either. Italian wine country, where the grass is green and the girls are pretty. Or something.

The drive was uneventful. In the morning Dad and I got up early (parking got expensive at 9, so we left at 8:15) to fetch the van and drive it to the street in front of the flat so it would be easier to load the bags. Navigating the narrow streets was, as before, difficult but not technically impossible. It just required lots of skill on Dad’s part, I just sat there for the ride.

He’s doing pretty well, surprisingly – he’s driving an unfamiliar car, the first manual he’s driven in many years, in unfamiliar terrain with unfamiliar (and in Italy non-existent) road markings, while being exhausted from several weeks of travel. And he hasn’t slipped once yet.

It’s like when you see tired Yoda in the original trilogy, and he moves slowly and tiredly, and then in the prequel trilogy you see him jumping around. Dad’s still jumping around, we’ll wear him down yet.

Once we got everything loaded up and got out of the city, the drive was nice. It was surprisingly long, for a drive in Europe, coming in at about 6 hours. We stopped for breakfast at a stop along the road and bought assorted types of pringles to keep us fed.

Along the way we saw a traffic jam that was so bad, people had gotten out of their cars to chat. This went on for kilometers, fortunately (for us) on the other side of the road.

We stopped for lunch in a small town just South of Verona, Mantua. Judging from the massive wall and high number of ancient buildings, Mantua seems to have quite a history behind it. We ran across the Rotunda di San Lorenzo, which according to Wikipedia was built in the 1000s, probably on the site of an older Roman temple to Venus.

The place we were staying was out in the boonies, 20 minutes from downtown. As a result, it was beautiful. We were nestled in between some hills with some terraced vineyards going up them. Down the street a bell tower was visible, which rang the time every hour. It was quiet. There was no construction. No traffic noise. No pedestrians going to and fro. Just us, eating good steak, looking at stars, and explaining special relativity.

We were all pretty tired when we rolled in around 3 or so, so we just lounged around while Dad went out to get some steak and cooked it on the electric stove. We ate it in the back yard as the sun threw brilliant colors over the hills around us. We decided on a plan for the next day, which would be our first full day in a city since Montreux, four days ago. A long and tiring four days, not just any four days. The plan for the next day was to sleep in, and go to Venice around 2 or 3, and sample as many gelato shops as we could, and then come back and wander around Verona if we still felt up to it.

A good plan, discussed over good steak and Leonardo DaVinci’s brand of potato chips (he also made baked potato chips, apparently), in a beautiful countryside lawn. It turns out that you can, in fact, grill steak on an electric stove. After eating, the sun had set so we stargazed for a while, despite the strong light pollution from Verona.


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