Mamma Mia...No Dancing Queens here
24.08.2012 - 28.09.2012 22 °C
We Survived the Storm...
...but the day was grey, clouds of the heavy variety clinging passionately to surrounding hills and valleys. Things looked marginally more hopeful 'up-the-lake', so, armed with maps, umbrellas, sweaters and swimwear (always be prepared) headed South.
Soon after crossing the Swiss/Italian border (take your passport just in case they are interested), our pretty little cabriolet's dashboard lit up like London's Olympic Stadium, with bleep and bong musical accompaniment. NO OIL and NO TYRE PRESSURE. So dear reader...remember back in my Ibiza blog when I said, check your spare tyre, well, it seems anyone renting a car these days requires a mechanic's course.
That sorted, and roof down as a yellow thing in the sky pushed it's way through the gloom, we wound our way along the lake shore hoping to come across a waterside cafe. They don't seem to exist. Traffic going into Cannobio was backed up so we swung off up the hill and meandered through villages, past countless churches and saw hardly a soul. No coffee shops either.
Back down at lake level we stopped in Stresa. I know; hilarious isn't it. I wonder how a name like that affects Real Estate prices? Yes, there are winding cobbled streets and a wide boulevard lakeside but this is definitely a coach party stopover spot. We did spy a larger-than-life Ferrari billboard incongruously propped between a perfumier and a sunglasses shop when we finally had coffee.
We stopped a few miles on at the first almost-lakeside restaurant we came to. It was so awful I can't even begin to describe it. I guess visitors to England presume everyone makes perfect Yorkshire Pudding. As we Brits know that's not the case. SO WHY WOULD WE PRESUME ALL ITALIANS KNOW HOW TO MAKE PASTA?? And miserable staff...Mamma Mia. Was it the weather? The economic climate? The end of high season? Whatever it was, Charm School had three perfect students at this place. (Apologies for not naming said restaurant; I've obliterated it from memory)
Underwhelmed and believing in the power of positive thought that Ascona would now be basking in sunshine we headed 'home'. Longing for tea and cake, as much as some of the Italian hospitality we've experienced during every other visit to Italy, we stopped at Cannobio. It was quiet now but Mamma Mia...more potential students for that Charm School.
Oh, Eden Roc, how over-joyed we were to see you nestled in the...gloom. Another storm was brewing. No matter. It was twice as ferocious as last night's. Never mind. Vodka, tonic, ice, lime. Perfect. Ducks clustered concerned on the heated swimming pool. Cute. A covered walkway to dinner at La Marina, which, from the outside, resembled that service station with the Pringle-style sloping roof on the A1, and Shepherd's Bush (revamped) tube station on the inside. Amusing especially as everyone was 'fully blinged'. The food was fabulous AND EVERYONE SMILED.
I'm puzzled. What's going on Italy? Where are those flirty smiles, dishes of Mamma's perfect pasta and bubbling pizza and hot, strong Espresso? Perhaps tomorrow......