Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Riva del Garda

Friday morning we left Brescia and drove up the east side of Lago di Garda, a beautiful drive tucked onto the lake’s shore for 75 km. We stopped for lunch at a small town about halfway up the lake (too small for me to remember it’s name), and while the food may have been a little lackluster, the views weren’t.

And the view from my table:

After lunch we drove into the city of Riva del Garda, but we were only there for 20 minutes before turning right around and heading back south to Verona (where I’m coincidentally passing through on a high-speed train to Milan as I write this) to see Verdi’s Il Traviata, performed in the old Roman Coliseum. First we had a tour of the city with the most eccentric tour guide I’ve ever met. He has two doctorates, has been a professor at UC Berkeley, and casually alluded to having coffee at the oldest coffee shop in Italy, Dante’s, with Margaret Thatcher, Bill Clinton, and Bill Gates’ mother (but he didn’t like what the new ownership has done with the place…). Highlights of the tour included:

The Venetian Lion that Napolean’s troops wore off to spite Venice:

The tombs of the famous ruling family of Verona

The Scala Family (with their clever iron-working and their opera house in Milan...)

And of course, The Romeo and Juliet Balcony, which was actually built after the play was written, sorry hopeless romantics.

After a quick dinner, we rushed to the opera, and while opera certainly isn’t my thing, Roman coliseums built 200 years before Christ are, and the evening was enjoyable.

After the opera ended at 1 AM, we made it back to Riva at a cool 2:45 AM, and sleep promptly ensued.

The next morning, I woke up (with a sinus infection- boo) early, and Ryan and I walked into town to rent some road bikes. After getting hooked up with some nice Cannondale bikes (for cheap too!), Ryan and I headed off to find the most ambitious ride we could. We were successful.

Our torture of choice was a ride up the Santa Barbara Pass, a pleasant 1100 meters above Riva del Garda. The views were certainly awesome, and we had plenty of time to look at them during our 90-minute climb.

Lunch was a well-deserved Weiner Schnitzel (spelling?) at the top of the pass, where Ryan and I paused for a symbolic photo. I apologize if the shorts are a little much:

WARNING: safety-conscious individuals (mothers included) skip forward one paragraph.

A harrowing 3400-foot descent ensued, with several stops to pop our ears.

After our ride down we rode across to the other side of the Riva for a quick climb up to the town of Trenno, where we were also rewarded with some good views,

And then finally back to Riva to turn in the bikes and take a quick dip in the lake.

That night we had our final concert, in definitely one our coolest venues, the old fortress on the lake in Riva (note the mountains above).

Afterwards, I got a shot to commemorate Tyler, a friend who I played with at Interlochen 5 years ago, and my last concert together (for now?). It was a pleasure indeed. The composer of one of our pieces (The Stanford Concerto) couldn’t help but jump in too.

Next stop: Venice (and Jenny!)

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