ITALY and the Road South
-SEP. 2012-

ALL PHOTOS © RUUD LEEUW

 

 

Since pleasurable visits to Italy, in 2008 and 2009, lingered in our memories, we decided to seek some sun and culture south of the Alps again.
To see for ourselves how the Italians strain under the economic crisis and if it is effecting their usual sunny disposition. We found much the same as before, but would like to see the grinding halt Italy places itself in each working day from 11:30 to 15:00 (or later) terminated as soon as possible.

 

Friedrischshafen am Boden See

But before we would arrive in Italy, we had some borders to cross. First stop was Friedrichshaven, on the Bodensee in the south of Germany. It is situated near the borders with Switzerland and Austria.
Friedrichshafen was established in 1811 as part of the new Kingdom of Württemberg, an ally of France during the Napoleonic Wars. It was named for King Frederick I of Württemberg, who privileged it as a free port and transshipment point for the kingdom's Swiss trade.
We walked the ‘Schlosspark’ and caught a glimpse of the castle behind the wall.

Friedrischshafen am Boden See
People enjoy the park in different ways.

Friedrischshafen am Boden See

Friedrichshafen has a firm aviation footprint in history!
Ferdinand von Zeppelin established his famous dirigible factory at the end of the 19th century. The 128m-long LZ1 rose from its mooring on July 2, 1900. The 1937 Hindenburg disaster and a subsequent embargo of American helium to Germany, however, effectively ended the production of German dirigibles. However, in 1993 the Zeppelin manufacturing company Luftschiffbau Zeppelin (LZ) was re-established and in 2001 a commercial airline Deutsche Zeppelin Reederei (DZR) began flying passenger service from Friedrichshafen Airport. As of 2012, 12 scheduled routes were offered with additional flights to selected cities.

Presently, a yearly aviation conference hosts the latest in European aircraft designs. AERO Friedrichshafen hosted an attendance of 33,400 in 2011, and 30,800 in 2012. Aero 2013 is scheduled for 24-27 April 2013 at Friedrichshafen Airport

There is also a Dornier Museum (photo), located at the Friedrichshafen airport, which displays restored Dornier aircraft and technology. [WIKIPEDIA]
More photos of mine taken here see FLICKR.com

 

Vaduz, Liechtenstein
After a restful night in a Gasthof, we crossed the border into Austria.
Only to enter Switzerland some 30 minutes later!
We decided to have lunch in yet another country: Liechtenstein. We had never visited it before.
So we took the exit for Vaduz. We weren't very impressed.
Some photos on my Flickr.com account.

Mountain passes in the Alps
After a quick lunch in Vadus we left and we soon found us driving on ever smaller Swiss mountain roads.

Mountain passes in the Alps
We negotiated the famous switchbacks on the Albula Pass (h.2312m) and Bernino Pass (h.2328m).
Snow appeared left and right from us, while the weather grew grimmer by the minute.

Switzerland
I don’t remember where this was exactly, but thought it rather typical for the mountain villages we drove through.

 

 

Ponte di Legno

There is a certain tragic quality to a ski resort during the summer and Ponte di Legno was no different. During the early-1970s I had spent a few days here, my first taste of wintersports and skiing. Things had changed but not all that much. I can recommend Caffe Roc here.

Ponte di Legno

Unfortunately, our hotel (Residence Acero Rosso) had no daytime cosiness to offer (e.g. a comfortable lounge to read a book) and so we went into the streets in spite of the rain. Most people take to hiking or (mountain)biking here.
Across from the hotel is Restaurant/Pizzeria Brasa, recommended eatery; and also a nice place to sit in the evening with a beer or glass of wine, enjoying a good book.
The hotel manager told us that this town had been given by Charlemagne (a.k.a Charles the Great, or Charles I – founder of the Carolingian Empire) in 800 A.D. to the monks of Tours and the name ‘Ponte di Legno’ derives from a wooden bridge here at the time (probably used as reference?). But I could not find confirmation of this on the internet.

Ponte di Legno
A bit of colour in the rain.

Ponte di Legno

Shelter from the storm.. Church St. Appollonio in Plampezzo, bordering Ponte di Legno. It is an beautiful, ancient church dating from the 12th century, with frescoes of the 13th century of the hand of the painter Johannes from Volpino.
In my enthusiasm to make photos I touched the rope and a LOUD alarm went off.. I waited for the police to arrive, offer my apologies, bow my head in shame. But nobody came. So I made a penalty donation in the box and left, the alarm still ringing.

Ponte di Legno
There is a castle here, but I was not convinced if it was genuine medieval or a replica of much recent date.

Ponte di Legno
Back into the center of Ponte di Legno we visited Parish of the Holy Trinity, dated 1685.
But that wooden door dates from 1929.

Ponte di Legno
Inside the church there are works from the workshop of Ramus, which I have
to admit doesn't mean a thing to me.

Ponte di Legno
The setting sun treated us to some warm, comforting colours. This was more like it!

MORE PHOTOS TAKEN AT PONTE DI LEGNO BY ME CAN BE SEEN ON MY FLICKR.COM ACCOUNT.

 

Limone, Lago di Garda
We crossed the Passo del Tonale and headed for Trento, for a quick visit to the aviation museum at the airport.
Next we drove to Lago di Garda, for lunch in Limone.
Limone is also a place I have visited decades ago. But I did not see anything I remembered.
The Pizza Capricciosa for lunch was good and people enjoyed themselves.
It was much busier with tourists on Limone's boulevard than the above photo would suggest!

Limone, Lago di Garda
The small streets immediately connecting to the Boulevard were very crowded with
people shopping for souvenirs, but the streets without shops offered a nice, quiet stroll.
A remarkable house, don't you think?

 

 

Fontevivo
Relais Fontevivo; a monastery converted to hotel and restaurant.
Our stay for two nights offered everything I had hoped for: tranquility and good food, the room was nice too.

Relais Fontevivo

Breakfast and dinner were very enjoyable here, against very affordable prices. Hard working people too.
I was beginning to get very annoyed with the Italian tradition of everybody closing shop between 11:00 or 11:30 until 15:30 or even later. This closure effected the places we visited on a daytrip from here.
Surely, with modern amenities such as airconditioning, such a tradition has no place in modern society?
Even gasstations close, allowing you to do self-service but one has to pay in cash! Self-service refuelling on a credit card is still too advanced for the Italians.
Good thing we found such comfort in our hotel.

Fontevivo
Next to the monastery is the original church; it was only fitting we paid hommage there.

MORE PHOTOS TAKEN AT FONTEVIVO BY ME CAN BE SEEN ON MY FLICKR.COM ACCOUNT.

 

Parma
Parma was a bit of a disappointment.
I couldn’t find a parking in the center of town. We wanted to visit the Parma Cathedral (Duomo) and found a parking space for only one hour. Inside the cathdral a service was being held and it went on and on. We left because of the time constraint. Parma did not seem to have a historic center, so we left town to exploit other possibilities.

Castles in Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Rocca Sanvitale, Fontanellato. This seemed like a nice place.
We had a coffee here first, then walked around the castle to have a quick look at the market stalls. By the time we got to the castle, they were closed! We had forgotten about the 11:00 - 15:00 break 'everybody' takes.

Castles in Emilia-Romagna, Italy

The gate wasn't entirely closed; we were free to explore the gate (photo above) and the inner yard.

Churches in Emilia-Romagna, Italy
A little church nearby, on the same square, made the visit to Fontanellato worthwhile; exquisitely decorated.

Churches in Emilia-Romagna, Italy
We were even honoured with a tour in a special, locked room; this room was richly decorated withheavy decorated wooden panelling; the custodian opened cabinets to show various religious idols.
Since I am not religious I lack the specific knowledge for the function of this room,
but it was clearly a place of pride and special reverie.

 

Castles in Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Next stop was even more disappointing! Roccabianca. This place was only open during the weekends. That information was learned from the Tabacchi corner store, as there was no information in English at the gate of the castle. The Italians have little consideration for tourists from abroad: we should all learn Italian when we visit Italy!

Churches in Emilia-Romagna, Italy
A peculiar church, somewhere en route.
Another peculiarity we experienced while driving the back roads, passing farm fields: we noticed a sound on the windshield like it was raining.. We found that sound was caused by driving through huge clouds of mosquitoes…

Castles in Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Our last attempt to visit a castle from the ‘Castelli Ducati’ brochure: Rocca Meli Lupa di Soragna.
We found it closed too upon our arrival, but was scheduled to reopen at 15:00 - which was only some 20 minutes away. So we sat down for cold drinks at a nearby café.
When we reported at the gate, we were told they did only guided tours and the group had just left. We could join but the group was Italian..
I hate tours like that and we wouldn’t be able to understand the guide, so in disgust we left.

Relais Fontevivo,  Emilia-Romagna, Italy
As I said, it was a good thing we found such comfort at our hotel: Relais Fontevivo.

 

 

MORE PHOTOS TAKEN AT THESE LOCATIONS CAN BE SEEN
ON MY FLICKR.COM ACCOUNT

VOLTERRA, TUSCANY
TUSCANY ON A DAYTOUR
CINQUE TERRE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Created: 27aug12 - Updated: 1 November, 2012