First Time outside of Tuscany: The Alps, Garda Lake, and Verona!

Posted on October 4th, 2010 by

I will begin with an apology for all of you who’ve been waiting for me to blog again. Sorry it took such a long time but I got caught up with classes and traveling. Now that I’m back into the swing of things, I’m far past due for another post! This particular entry will highlight my first travels outside of Tuscany.

The third weekend in Italy, Melanie, our mutual friend Lauren and I traveled with Ld’M to the outskirts of Italy to hike in the Alpine Mountains, bask in the sun at Garda Lake, and walk around the ancient city of Verona for 2 days (one night). The trip started off early Saturday morning with a 5 hours coach bus ride that began at 5 A.M. Thinking I’d easily fall asleep for this long ride to the Alps, I stayed out relatively late the night before spending time with my cousin Lotte who lives in Florence. However, the bus ride turned out to be one of the most miserable 5 hours of my life. I was cold, tired, thirsty, and hungry. However, I had no room to whine seeing as I was on my way to the Alps. :)

Besides being miserable on the ride, the scenery was amazing! We passed nearly 5 thousand (no exaggeration) vineyards that grow best near the foothills of the Alps. They were literally everywhere. The mountains in the distance were pretty reassuring as well :)

As we winded our way up the mountains, my ears began to pop, and the more worrisome about my ear ache I became. A little bit of a backstory: the week before I left for Italy, I had an odd pain in my jaw and i couldn’t close my mouth completely. Following this pain, my ear started to ache randomly for a little bit at a time. Back to the actual story, I wasn’t sure if my ears were hurting more than a usual pressure change, but I was definitely not going to let it ruin my trip! So I kept on being excited :)

Once we finally arrived at our destination, the whole crew got off the bus and set off immediately with our two hiking guides down the path. The path was pretty flat and we were a little worried that this might not be as intense as we immediately assumed. I thought we were not being too dramatic thinking we’d be hiking literally straight up these huge monstrous mountains. I pictured “hikin in the alps” to be intense, but at this point I guess I was wrong.

We continued on for an hour or so until things finally began to pick up! We turned a corner, and then BAM! The most beautiful waterfall I’ve ever seen came out of no where! We spent a good amount of time just taking pictures and just taking it all in. It was breathtaking. One of the students we went with, Nick, got it right when he said he just felt refreshed and free. It was amazing.

After spending about an hour at this waterfall, we finally moved on where things began to live up to our expectations! We finally started straddling rocks, climbing up sides of the mountain at nearly vertical angles, and even wading across a stream. It was amazing. When we finally reached the top, out of breath, we were surrounded by peaks nearly 1,000 feet higher than our destination. It was pretty vast and amazing. We spent a good hour on top of the world before heading back down.

Once we reached our normal elevation, we all piled back into the bus and headed back to our hotel for the night. As we traveled to the hotel however, my ears began to worsen. My ear ache intensified and my jaw hurt worse than ever. At this point, I was pretty sure I had an ear infection. Once we go to our hotel, Hotel America (haha, it turned out to be a really nice hotel) we had a three-course dinner and then called it a night.we headed back down again. Overall, I would call the whole experience a success. It did leave us wanting to climb the peaks that surrounded us. We asked the hiking guide and he told us it literally took leaving for the climb at 6 AM and getting back at 8 PM. A full day of hiking was neither in our schedule or budget :) but you can always dream.

The next day we headed out for Garda lake at about 10 AM. The trip was a quick hour bus ride in comparison to the 5 hour catastrophe from before. We drove straight into the peninsula of Sirmione which is surrounded by Garda Lake. The city of Sirmione was so quaint and welcoming (besides the rude German tourists). We spent a couple hours walking around and just laying at the beach. It was really nice to take a couple of hours just relaxing after the strenuous hike the day before.

From Sirmione we headed back in the direction of Florence to the town of Verona, the home of Shakespeare’s most famous pieces: Romeo and Juliet! As we walked into the town which is famous for R&J and the best economy of Italy, we saw some pretty sweet roman remains, Juliet’s balcony, and the colosseum in Verona. It was an old, but super expensive city (some kids in our group had to pay to go pee – – Urinetown anyone??). After about an hour and half in Verona, we all piled onto the bus again and headed back to Florence, a simple 2 hour ride this time.Overall, it was a successful first trip outside of Florence. If anything, it made the idea of traveling around Europe in the coming months exciting more than ever.


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