On visiting Melloblocco in Val di Mello last year, we weren't so blown away by the beauty of Italy, so this visit we were determined to explore more and find this side of the country.
We began strongly: stuck in traffic, diversions and wrong-way systems along the coast road, we were driven into the arms of the Autostrade in our frustration. Here we were promptly stuck in another two hour jam due to road works, and charged 12€ for the privilege. Lesson thoroughly learnt, we struck in land on a smaller road. Finally, despite subjection to a dizzying and infinite series of bends and repeated rattling by startling deformations in the surface, we had a beautiful drive, dotted with friendly villages warm and bright in the dusk of the mountains. Although driving until 3am was not ideal, we saw a veritable menagerie of wildlife: deer; big fat boar; owls; a weasley thing; a hare; and something that may or may not have been a wolf.
Our relief at finally arriving at Lago de Garda (in the town of Bardalino) was somewhat tempered by the discovery that is not a great area for free camping. A further half hour's driving, and we finally laid our heads to rest in an only slightly grotty car park, that was adorned with only one condom wrapper. Home, sweet home.
After a few hours of groggy sleep we were woken by the curious stares of some Dutch tourists, and so went for the morning constitutional - and found the lake to be quite charming. There was more wildlife, some waterbirds, grebes laboring with lengths of reed, and ducklings that chased the flies like kittens after string. Even a kilometre of pikey clothes markets thronged with hordes of eager bargain-hunters couldn't kill our buzz. We sat in the sun and sipped our first, and last, Italian coffee. It was also to be our last sunshine for a while. The skies darkened as we drove up the lake. We sped past the awesomeness that is Arco, safe in the knowledge of the sunny limestone bouldering that awaited us in Città dei Sassi, in the Dolomites... (Shameless cliffhanger)