Day 249–Two Broads in Italy Day 5–Lost in Paradise

We woke up in Milan anticipating our trip to the Castle in Sinio. We got on the road about 11 after programming the GPS and with a backup Google map I’d printed and additional instructions for finding the highway from the hotel people. We were scheduled for a hot air balloon ride over the Barolo region at 5:15. It was a 2 hour trip so we had plenty of time.

Getting out of Milan proved harrowing . The Round Abouts seem like good ideas until you get in one and the GPS voice tells you to take the fourth exit when there are just streets that aren’t exits. So we traveled through Milan, taking the wrong round about exits and getting more lost. We discovered the parts of Milan that are not considered tourist destinations. We made sure our doors were locked. Suddenly, though, the highway appeared before us and we were off. The highways are in excellent condition and are well marked.

After traveling about an hour I noticed that the GPS showed our destination as being 5 hours away. I had misprogrammed the address. So we relied on the Google map. More Round Abouts and more missed exits and toll booths with Italian only instructions. After driving about 3 hours I pulled over and called the Castello. Denise, the owner from whom Linda and I took a cooking class a couple of years ago, informed us that we had overshot our destination and were an hour away. She instructed us how to find them and we got back on the road. We retraced our steps and reentered toll booths we’d already passed through but by then we were old hands at working the toll booths. As we got closer, the scenery turned into the gorgeous views we had been anticipating for the past year as we planned this trip.

Another hour and we called the Castello again. And again. And again as we missed turns again and again. When we finally arrived at the castle the second time, well after 6, having driven right by thinking the sign pointed up the hill, Denise and David, the hotel clerk, greeted us with much needed glasses of prosecco.

We missed our balloon ride but we are finally here.





Day 248–Two Broads in Italy Day 4–Getting There

It rained all night in Chur. We boarded the Bernina Express at 8:30 AM and chugged over the Alps into Italy. The views were obscured by low clouds and rain but what we saw was breathtaking.

We detrained in Tirano in time to catch an earlier train to Milan, after barely making ourselves understood and ensuring that the train was going to Milan. An hour into the trip, a conductor checked our passes and informed us that we had first class tickets and were in the second class car. We had wondered about the rather pronounced difference in the appearance and comfort from the Swiss trains and thought that the marked difference between the trains in Switzerland and Italy had to do with the fact that we were in Italy not that we were in the wrong car! We stayed put and arrived in Milan by mid afternoon. It was warm and we were hot and sweaty after our second class trip.

Looking for the car rental place took us onto the cobblestones and our second attempt at butchering Italian as we tried to ask directions. Streets aren’t clearly marked so it took another 30 minutes to find it. But good news when we found it. We got upgraded to a Volvo with GPS that guided us through the narrow Milan streets crowded with scooters and bicycles and, yes, Italian drivers. How we came through unscathed is anybody’s guess. After a few wrong turns and puzzling over Round Abouts we arrived at our Hotel. Parts of Milan are incredibly beautiful and picturesque with narrow streets and old buildings with flower covered balconies but graffiti is everywhere.

It was Linda’s birthday so we visited a small bistro across from the hotel and celebrated, then we dined on pizza at another nearby restaurant. We are in Italy at last.