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Italy: Trip of a Lifetime. Part 10

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Lake Maggiore seen from Ristorante Cardini in Someraro.

These posts record our stay in Italy in September. We thoroughly enjoyed it, so we’re sharing our experience. You’ll get the (almost) full story of our travels, activities, and experiences; warts and all, in instalments.

Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4. Part 5. Part 6. Part 7. Part 8. Part 9.

27th September, Wednesday, our 30th Wedding Anniversary.

We opened our cards, which we’d brought with us, before going down for breakfast, descending the ten flights of stairs we preferred to use instead of the (perfectly efficient and comfortable) lifts. Uncarpeted, they’re solid marble and have occasional items used by the cleaning staff stacked to one side.

Breakfast in La Palma Hotel is very civilised. We were able to choose where to sit, so found a window table where we could watch the passers-by on the road beyond the gardens. The wide variety of foods is spread over the large area on separate tables, we guess to prevent crowding around any particular serving point. Hot drinks are brought by the waiters, but food is self-service. And that food is very tasty and of excellent quality.

After stoking up with fuel for the morning, we asked Reception about walks and were given a ‘stylised’ map of the town and a slightly different map showing some walks in the area. Neither seemed to have a scale attached and there was even a little contradiction between them regarding the location of some of the small villages that make up the town.

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View of Stresa from the hotel roof.
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Stresa and the lake from the hotel roof.

We’d been intrigued by the advertised swimming pool on the hotel roof as well as the one that sits at the lakeside, across the road. So, we climbed the stairs to the top of the hotel and wandered around the Sky Bar and the pool area, taking in the views over the town and lake and enjoying the peace and quiet up on the deserted roof.

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The horizon pool on top of the hotel.

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The pool by the lake.

A quick trip down to the lakeside pool, to find out exactly what it offered, found us in the company of a professional photo shoot with a male model, presumably producing promotional pictures (apologies for the alliteration) for the hotel. Another couple arrived and occupied a pair of sunbeds but we decided we’d prefer to take a walk before sampling the swimming pool.

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A private shrine at the end of a house we passed along the way.

We decided to amalgamate a couple of the suggested walks and set off for Cascata la Pissarota, a 325-metre-high waterfall at the head of what appeared on the map to be a narrow body of water in a valley. Walks, we were told, are well way-marked, so we set off toward what looked, on the maps, like the starting point for our selected route, using roads we hadn’t previously travelled. We couldn’t find any signs for the walks, but the street names seemed to lead in the right general direction.

Ideally, we were looking for a route to take us off-street and into the green areas. The whole lakeside is lined with villages and small towns hugging the coast and hillsides, with large areas of woodland between. Most of the slopes are very steep and the roads employ hairpin bends to climb the hills.

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On the way up to Someraro.

After some time following the map, it became clear we were off track. By pure coincidence, or maybe serendipity, as we made for a point the map suggested should lead us to the right place, we were greeted by an Australian guy leaving his house with his Italian family. He saw we were lost and offered help.

His wife thought we were too far off track for the waterfall but suggested a different route that would show us some lovely views over the lake, so we set off as advised. Almost at once, we came across some way-markers we’d previously missed. Now we knew what we were looking for, and understood the odd placing of some signs, we were more able to find these elusive pointers.

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One of the lake’s small islands spotted between trees in the village of Someraro.

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As we climbed higher, more of the lake came into view.

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The cable car that takes visitors high up to Mottarone (of which, more later!).

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We ate at Ristorante Cardini in Someraro.

We wound our way up steep streets, through green areas and past isolated houses in large, impressive gardens, to the small hill village of Someraro; peaceful and quiet. After a walk past a farm and more houses, we came on a place to eat. Ristorante Cardini was deserted when we arrived, just after 14:00, but still open. The lady owner greeted us with a smile and very good English.

We decided to eat outside, as the views are pretty spectacular over the lake. I had a local delicacy involving pasta and artichokes, and Valerie had some good vegetable soup, and we both had a much-appreciated drink after our long climb.

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The smallest island on the lake, as seen from Ristorante Cardini.

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The views are pretty good from up here.

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En route to the waterfall.

As we’d already walked a good distance, we set off back for our hotel. Almost by chance, we came across a sign pointing to the waterfall, and decided to follow the way-marks. The path led beside the town’s rubbish dump for a while and then into the steep-sided valley where the small brook flowed mostly unseen through the gorge deep below us; no sign of the ‘lake’ illustrated on the map.

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Part of the route passes the town dump!
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The red and white stripes appeared in many places as way-markers. This one, on a dead tree stump seemed to have attracted a bit of fungus for company.

Stresa42The track was narrow but clear, though not much used.

It was peaceful and bore a slightly neglected look; a stretch of wilderness away from the neat, clean houses. At length, we came to a small sign atop a wobbly metal post that declared we were at the waterfall. Sure enough, there, through the trees, we could see a thin stream of water descending the sheer rock face.

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And, suddenly, the reason for the odd name for the fall became quite clear.

The reason for the odd name for the fall became obvious! I stumbled against the sign as I was taking a picture and it fell over, so I had to re-site it with the help of a few loose rocks scattered on the ground.

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Just behind me is the gorge through which the outflow of the fall finds its way down to the lake; a very steep sided valley.

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Valerie discovered another track, leading from the old bridge up by the side of the falls, but we’d done enough walking by this time.

We felt a little elated at having discovered the object of our original walk. Noticing a narrow track leading up the side of the valley over a small stone bridge, we explored a short distance up that but decided we didn’t want to climb any further that day and followed the same route back past the rubbish tip.

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One of the signs we missed on the way up.

At the end of the track, as we emerged onto the streets, we discovered signs directing us back into town: pointers we’d obviously missed on our outward journey by using a different starting point! We noted these markers all the way back to our hotel, discovering one clear sign right on the corner of the road that runs beside the hotel. Doh!

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The road down to the hotel passes under the railway line.

The pool was now unoccupied, but, weary after our long walk, a short siesta was more in order before we showered and changed for dinner. We never did get into that inviting water!

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Our anniversary dinner.

Nicco again greeted us, and Maurizzio served us. We celebrated our anniversary with a bottle of prosecco (who needs over-priced and overrated champagne when the local fizz is so great?) Again, the meal was very good and the cheese, especially the Gorgonzola, and deserts were excellent. We finished with coffee, mine sporting a generous helping of Amaretto, and then returned to our room to don our walking clothes for a pre-sleep wander along the lakeside.

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One of the islands on the lake, with the buildings illuminated at night.

The air was still balmy and the promenade quiet and all but deserted. This time, we discovered more lovely views under the rising moon reflecting off the surface of the quiet lake. Magical. 

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Moonlight on the water; so romantic!

Stresa52Light from the island across the still waters.

Stresa53More of that romantic moonlight.

Stresa54Part of the quiet promenade that runs by the lake in Stresa.

Another lovely day.

6 Responses to “Italy: Trip of a Lifetime. Part 10”

  1. noelleg44

    What a perfect day, Stuart, with lots of serendipitous twists and turns. I loved that lakeside pool – would have been in it in a cold minute, although the lake looked very inviting for a swim, too. I’ve never been to Italy but would love to see the lake district! Thanks for the tour!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • stuartaken

      Thanks, Noelle. We were tempted by the water, but the walk attracted us more! Glad you’re enjoying the tour. Almost at an end now on here. It seems a long time since we returned home on 1st October.

      Like

      Reply

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