So in my Italian class last week, as Cristina gave me yet another table of verbs to conjugate I innocently asked, "Scusate ma Cristina, c'è un vigneto vicino a Bergamo?" For the next few minutes we were spared the verbs while Cristina told us about the wine of her region and her favourite vineyards. Then she described the Italian sparkling wine from the Franciacorta region and recommended her favourite restaurant there - Solive.
Mission accomplished! Verbs avoided for at least five minutes.
Not only did that seemingly innocent question postpone the dreaded table of verbs, but it also gave me the perfect location for a weekend away to celebrate Stefano's birthday. Lunch at Solive, a taste of the famous Franciacorta sparkling wine, and after lunch, a wander through the beautiful vineyard displaying its autumn colours.
At Solive our limited Italian skills were put to the test when the waiter explained that he was the menu. In his charmingly understated way he described the regional specialities from which we chose, home-made ravioli with sage, butter sauce and beef with polenta, mushrooms and grapes. Each dish sounded delicious and it was.
After lunch we jumped back in our little car,
opps not that one, but our almost-as-cute Fiat 500 from GuidaMi, the Milan piblic transport car share that we've joined.
Following another of Cristina's recommendations, we drove to Pilzone on Lake Iseo where we spent the night at Hotel Araba Fenice and possibly slept in the very same room that Winston Churchill used when he secretly visited Lake Iseo towards the end of WWII.
The view from our room was hard to leave but a stroll around Pilzone, and another glass of Franciacorta from the hotel's lakeside bar, tempted us downstairs to watch the sunset.
Pilzone seemed typical of the towns scattered around the lakes in Northern Italy. It is set along a thin ribbon of land between Lake Iseo and the mountains with narrow lanes that wind their way up the hillside from the lake front.
Lovere. Tunnels, single-lane stretches, over-hanging cliffs, the odd cyclist or two to pass and some challenging blind corners requiring a beep on the horn made for a not-so-relaxing but most scenic drive.
Stare al caldo fino alla prossima settimana...