Monday, August 22, 2016

Grotte di Catullo

In late July I crossed another place I had been dying to visit of the list, the Grotte di Catullo a Roman Villa on the Sirmione Peninsula that juts out into Lake Garda.

We are in peak tourist season so a really early start to beat the crowds meant that at 6.30 in the morning I arrived in a still deserted Sirmione. I even managed to find a free parking space which was nice because the parking charges here are horrific.


Sirmione, BS. Entrance to the town

Sirmione, BS. Entrance to the town
I had time to explore the peninsula before the archaeological site opened at 8.30. The weather did not look too promising although the sun was supposed to come out later. I found some nice moody views of the lake.

Lago di Garda, BS

Lago di Garda, BS

Lago di Garda, BS

Lago di Garda, BS


Lago di Garda, BS

Lago di Garda, BS

The Villa takes up a huge area right on the tip of the peninsula. not much remains, but it is easy to see how massive this villa must have been. It covers an area 167m x 105m. The huge central courtyard was covert with a massive canvas tent structure. These Roman Engineers never cease to amaze me.

Crotte di Catullo, Sirmione, BS.

Crotte di Catullo, Sirmione, BS.

Crotte di Catullo, Sirmione, BS.


Crotte di Catullo, Sirmione, BS.

Crotte di Catullo, Sirmione, BS.

Crotte di Catullo, Sirmione, BS.

Crotte di Catullo, Sirmione, BS.

Crotte di Catullo, Sirmione, BS.

Crotte di Catullo, Sirmione, BS.
The Villa dates from the fist century before Christ and fell into ruin in about the third century AC. It was said to be the home of a famous Roman poet called Catullo.

Crotte di Catullo, Sirmione, BS.

Crotte di Catullo, Sirmione, BS.

Crotte di Catullo, Sirmione, BS.

Crotte di Catullo, Sirmione, BS.

Crotte di Catullo, Sirmione, BS.

Crotte di Catullo, Sirmione, BS.

Crotte di Catullo, Sirmione, BS.


Crotte di Catullo, Sirmione, BS.

Crotte di Catullo, Sirmione, BS.

Crotte di Catullo, Sirmione, BS.

Crotte di Catullo, Sirmione, BS.

Crotte di Catullo, Sirmione, BS.
There is a small museum with some artifacts excavated at the site. To enter costs €6 still quite reasonable to enter and try to immagine what this villa must have been like in Roman times.

Crotte di Catullo, Sirmione, BS.

Crotte di Catullo, Sirmione, BS.


Crotte di Catullo, Sirmione, BS.

Crotte di Catullo, Sirmione, BS.
The Villa never really got crowded whilst I was there. I was lucky that the grey start to the day developed into a cloudless blue sky meaning I was able to take a more varied set of photographs.

When I left the villa and hit the main town at lunchtime it was another place to what I had found when I arrived. It was packed. Luckily I found a nice restaurant on the lake where I eat some lake fish called "Sardine"  which are a freshwater parent of sea sardines.


Lago di Garda, Sirmione, BS

Lago di Garda, Sirmione, BS

Lago di Garda, Sirmione, BS
After lunch I decided to take the Alfa switched to sport mode for a spin around the lake. But everywhere was to crowded to even think about stopping apart from a little village called Cassone with a splendid little museum dedicated to the lake side occupations such as fishing.

Cassone, Malcesine, VR

Cassone, Malcesine, VR

Cassone, Malcesine, VR

Cassone, Malcesine, VR

Cassone, Malcesine, VR

Cassone, Malcesine, VR
Must visit Lake Garda in a less busy time of year.




Friday, August 5, 2016

Lago Santo Modenese to Lago Nero


I managed to take a day off work last Friday to go hiking in the Apennines. I chose one of my favourite walks that starts at Lago Santo Modenese and finishes at Lago Nero in Tuscany.
Lago Santo, MO
I was blessed with a nice if hot day for this hike.
 
Lago Santo, MO
After having breakfast on the shore of Lago Santo in the early morning light I headed up to Lago Baccio one of the most spectacular lakes in the Tosco Emilian Apennines.
Lago Baccio, MO

Lago Baccio, MO

Lago Baccio, MO

Lago Baccio, MO

 
I then trudged slowly up to the “Finestra del Rondinaio” before descending rapidly down to Lago Turchino a small lake that unlike many others does not dry up in summer. The best bit about arriving at this lake is stopping to drink at spring that gushes nice cold water; very welcome on a hot day.
Finestra del Rondinaio, MO

Finestra del Rondinaio, MO

Finestra del Rondinaio, MO. Looking towards Tuscany


Sempervivum arachnoideum



 
 
 
Largo Turchino, MO

Largo Turchino, MO
The lake full of tadpoles also had another more interesting inhabitant: a water snake that I saw swimming through the lake.
Borra al Fosso, MO

Borra al Fosso, MO
The next stop was Passo Giovo where the Via Ducale passes from Emilia to Tuscany. This road which is not used for the passage of traffic has an interesting story.
Foce Giovo, MO
 
In 1818 Maria Luisa of Bourbon, Duchess of Lucca and Francis IV, Duke of Modena, who were destined for an arranged marriage, wanted to accomplish a way to pass the Apennines, with a direct connection between Modena and Lucca without having to pass the Customs of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
The works lasted from 1819 until 1829, when it was inaugurated by the Duke and the Duchess, who met for the first time at the Foce Giovo; it is said that the Duchess, after returning Lucca said that she had been "in the upper snows," referring to the white hair of the Duke of Modena; who came to hear about the comment replying "when it snows in the mountains, it is better that the cows descend from the mountains."  After building the torturous road up and over the mountains to enable the meeting, the marriage was not to be, surly the costliest blind date ever.
The next point of reference was the Passo di Annibale where legend has it that Hannibal passed during his invasion of Italy.
Passo di Annibale,MO

Lago Piatto, MO

Femmina Morta, MO
Finally, I arrived at Lago Nero with its rare Alpine Newts and panoramic views.

Lago Nero, PT

Lago Nero, PT

Lago Nero, PT

Lago Nero, PT


Alpine Newts, Lago Nero, PT

Lago Nero, PT

Lago Nero, PT
Now all that remained to be done was to retrace my steps