Day 39: Italy, Venice via Lake Garda – Ovada

RouteVenice – Ovada, Italy
Route Details
Overnight stop44.640301, 8.64998
Overnight Costs€0
(fresh water, grey waste, cassette disposal,
good mobile signal)
Diesel / litre €1.598 (our most expensive so far)
Exchange rate 1.14
Mosquito Net
(hand stitched)
Total completed5m
Mosquito bites2

We had orginally planned to stop over at Lake Garda. We arrived on a Monday at around 11:30am after leaving Venice to find a glorious day…..and the lake and surrounding area heaving with people. It’s not a holiday, it’s a Monday and everyone should be at work thinking “I wish it were Friday”. What’s that about?

We’re not people who like crowds, so we parked up and had some lunch with a glorious view.

Just before we got parked in – it took a little bit of bullying and intimidation with Kaya’s size – we managed to make our escape and left the beautiful views to the locals.

After that we couldn’t really decide what to do next and where to go. So we decided as we were going to be in Liguria (the region of superb olive oil and truffles and the home of foccaccia and basil pesto), we’d find a small town with a free sosta and head there for the night. Ovada it was and as it was a fairly long drive, we’d do it on the toll roads for a stress-free journey.

I made the rookie mistake of not checking the weather – something that I normally always do before we finalise our decision as it has saved our bacon numerous times. We’ve escaped flooding, hailstone as big as tennis balls, snow and gales.

We weren’t to escape this storm, though.

Everything seemed pretty normal as we came into Ovada. We were planning on staying for a few days even though the clouds were closing in a bit.

It had been a pretty long day driving as we drove into the town. Both of us missed a restriction board on the exit at the roundabout, turned in and 15m ahead of us, yellow barriers in the road restricting to 2m width.

“I’m sure we’ll make it,” from the gorgeous Mr T.

“You’re fucking nuts,” from me, “we’re 2.4m wide!”.

We argued as he edged ever closer. In the end, I prevailed, we backed up and found another way round with a few exasperated looks from the locals. Phew! Always question a tired driver and sometimes you just have to make a management decision and override them #TrueStory

We finally found ourselves a parking spot in a sosta next to the river, settled in, did a bit of snooping around on t’internet and found a local restaurant frequented by truckers – just the sort of establishment we like! We had a nap (yes, even I did!), showered and changed and by the time we were ready for the walk to the restaurant, it had started spitting. We’re British!!! A bit of rain would never stop us….especially from a great restaurant. So off we trotted.

La Locanda (The Inn by translation) turned out to be everything…..and more. It is a hidden treasure found on the road to the cemetery with hairy-arsed truckers filling the tables but it was a picture of understated elegance. Why would truckers want to eat in a crappy restaurant? It turned out that it was a pizzeria specialising in the sale of some excellent grappa and very fine wines.

The menu del giorno was a more than reasonable €12 per person for a bewildering (it is if you can’t speak Italian!) array of choices including Primi (pasta/rice), Secondi (meat), Contorni (sides) and Dolce (desserts). But the lovely young waitress with her very passable English and us with our terrible Italian, managed to finalise our choices.

We were in absolute heaven: Trofi alla Genovese for me (a special little pasta twist with Genovese Pesto, green beans and potato) and Spaghetti alla Carbonara for the gorgeous one. Local salsiccia (sausage) for him filled with herby pork product and Milanese or breaded veal for me for Secondi. All with veggies and a delightful fennel salad shaved so thin it was almost see-through. 1 strawberry cheesecake to end and when the waitress put it down she so enchantingly explained, ” 2 spoons, not for me but for us”. She was already getting a great tip but she scored even more after this!

Their local “full” grappa (as in not lite or low alcohol – huh?) with some rich, dark espressos and our bill came to a shockingly low €36. I’ll tell you what, the Mediterraneans certainly know how to live long and enjoyable lives.

The walk back to Kaya saw us getting just a little bit wetter as the rain fell slightly heavier but that Grappa (was it homemade and did it have just the teeniest bit of ethanol in it from the heads and tails?) made us warm and toasty and the ground …..and now ever increasing pools of water…..floated and sloshed beneath our feet.

Straight into bed to prepare ourselves for a day wafting around town.

And suddenly from nowhere an almighty flash lit up the skies and forced it way though each crack in Kaya’s blinds turning night into day and a thunderous, cracking, scraping, sharp and rolling explosion of thunder tore the night apart. We crapped ourselves. I mean we were really scared.

We held onto each other for the next 8 hours whilst the gods ripped the heavens apart and the rain pelted down so hard that we couldn’t hear when we spoke and the wind howled like a devil banshee outside rocking Kaya on her suspension. And on and on it went in an endless cycle. It would let up for an hour or so and lull us into a new false sense of security before the chaos would start up again all over again.

We clung on tight through the night.

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