Monday, February 28, 2011

Incipit Vita Nova

The first time I was in Italy was the first time I went to Europe. It was March of 1998, and a friend wanted to go to Paris. I wasn’t that thrilled about seeing Paris, so I told her to add on Italy and I’m there. Before we left, everyone told me I’d love Paris and Florence, but my favorites were Rome and Venice; the vino, piazzas and canals captured my heart from the start.

This time around—a newfound love of Italy—came from another part I hadn’t seen. On Friday, we flew into Bologna and drove to a place called Lake Garda that has a backdrop of the snow topped Alps. Lake Garda was formed in the Ice Ages by a glacier. The first settlers date back to 4000 B.C. Another interesting fact is that the Red Cross was established from the “Battle of Solferino” in Lake Garda. Due to the conditions for the wounded, a man by the name of Henri Dunant wrote the “Souvenir of Solerina” in 1862 campaigning for improvements in treating the wounded, and so began the first Geneva Convention signing in 1863.

Lake Garda is now a love of mine. The lake has many different villages around it where you can stop to shop, enjoy a cafĂ© or gelato, or have a delicious Italian dinner by the lake. It’s breathtaking and I want to retire here. LOL! Yeah, like that will happen. Anyways, I hope you enjoy the tour. Please keep your hands inside the car. ;)

We begin the tour on Dante Alighieri Street—the street where our hotel was located . For those of you who don’t know who Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) was, he was an Italian poet who wrote The Divine Comedy about life and God; Inferno (hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory) and Paradiso (Paradise). The title of this post is from his Sonnet, La Vita Nuova, and it means “Here beginneth the new life.” In a sense, seeing Lake Garda was like beginning a new life, and it also sums up my life over the past two years.

This picture was taken from our balcony as the sun started to wake. 

After breakfast, we hopped in the car and started to make stops along the way. It may sound morbid, but our first stop was at a cemetery. It was breathtaking with the Alps behind it and I thought what a beautiful resting place.

We stopped at the first little village north of our hotel. The sun slowly came around as I ate up everything I saw.

We walked down some streets and I took a few pictures. This is when I got a feel for the place and those who live here.

This is a picture of an island on Lake Garda. It's called the Olive Island.

These pictures are of another village and its surrounding area. 

This house was well protected and guarded from intrusion. I also took a few pictures near the house and the scenery was perfect.

Again, we walked down some streets so I could capture its essence. 

We took a cable car up to the top of Monte Baldo. Here are pictures as we were going up, on top and then when we came down.

I thought this picture was pretty cool. These are orange trees with the Alps behind them.
After driving around the lake making more stops, we finally settled down to eat where I had my first Italian pizza. Mmm….

It rained the next day, so we decided to visit a few more places on the way to the airport. Unfortunately, the weather can kill the appreciation of a place, but we both enjoyed our time  in Verona. Of course I thought of Shakespeare’s The Two Gentleman of Verona comedy as we walked around. 

We went into the Castelvecchio Museum. This actually was a great museum because some of the sculptures and paintings were founded within the castle (1355), preserved and exhibited with the castle.

Here are a few pictures taken of the Adige River. 

We also went into the Arena di Verona. It’s an ampitheatre that was built in the 1st century A.D. and is still used as a concert venue for operas.


After eating, we headed to Bologna. We originally had a trip planned to Bologna in December, but canceled because of the snow. We were both glad we did because as much as there is history in Bologna, I found it disturbing and sad at the amount of dirt and graffiti that covers this city. There wasn’t a street we walked down near the center that wasn’t covered with graffiti. We can now say we’ve been to Bologna, but I doubt I’ll be back. Here are a few of the things I found beautiful in the city in the short time we were there.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures. Have a great week.


  1. Stunning photog, Bea! I think the rain adds character to those pics. :) The Alps are a beautiful backdrop. My favorite, though, are all the little villages...Such a different lifestyle & environment from super-sized America.

    So I must does real Italian pizza compare to Chicago pizza? :O

  2. Oh geez, Barb, you really put me in a corner. Hmm... I would say the main difference is the crust. All the pizzas we had, Sweets had one in Verona, are very thin crust. Very thin, and if the crust puffs up around the perimeter, it's a flakey kind of crust, not solid and doughy. Also, the cheese isn't gooey. It's a thin layer atop with sauce and whatever else you choose. Their individual pizzas are huge though--they overtake the plate but very thin...and they're not pre-cut.

    Also, there is no such thing as stuffed or deep dish pizza in Italy. LOL! That's left for Chicago's hungry appetites. Chicago pizza also has more generous toppings, red sauce, cheese, vegetables, etc. Italian pizzas are garnished with just the amount of ingredients needed so the thin crust could kinda hold it. Kinda. It doesn't really hold up, which is why they eat it with a fork and knife. Pfft... I showed them how to eat a pizza.

    *Bea, who sat with a folded pizza in hand and sauce outlining her lips.*

    I had no idea how tough it was to describe pizza.

  3. *giggles*

    I can just picture the whole scene. Glad you showed 'em how it's done! ;-)

  4. Once again - amazing! My daughter has a chance to go to Italy with school next year. Wish I could go along!!!

  5. AB, It will be a great opportunity for your daughter if she decides to go.

  6. Spectacular pictures. Love your descriptions - makes me want to go there also (and retire!). I so enjoy living life vicariously through you!

  7. Robin! My friend! How are you? I’m so glad you enjoy my pictures and that you commented. Thank you so much for reading. Take care.