Sunday, November 7, 2010

Down the hill in a rubbish bin

Laveno is situated about an hour out of Milan and is on the east side of Lake Maggiore. It is the only natural harbour on the lake and it was our destination for a daily outing. Not knowing much about the place, we were mainly hoping for a scenic drive, a nice lunch and some time out of the house, (forecast was wet for the next few days so were not sure if we would be rained in all weekend).

As all things Italian, the town was old with pretty alleyways, buildings, churches and modern shops. Laveno benefited from the backdrop of a beautiful lake and steep mountains, and for a Saturday, appeared extremely quiet with only residents wandering the streets. After a stroll along the waters edge and a a close call with some large swans, we settled for a relaxing meal of pasta, pizza, bruschetta and bread (becoming the standard food order).

Our last minute research in the car, (Lonely Planet we would be lost without you), informed us of a cable way up the hill in Laveno. We have done this once with the kids before in France and thought it would be a nice way to view the lake. No where in the book were we told that I would be placed in a rubbish bin like Oscar the Grouch from Seasame Street, as I travel 1062 metres up a hill for 16minutes. Surprise!

Hubby went in first with son and I travelled after with daughter, (we both followed a man with a large dog...bizarre). The panoramic views were breathtaking; we could see Lake Maggiore, the Alps, the Pre Alps, the Lombard lakes and the plain of the River Po. Considering the size of our travel craft, I actually felt quite safe, the only challenge was trying to hold Mia for the journey so she could have a nice view.

I must admit that about half way up the hill I had a moment. The cable way stopped, there was complete silence from the surrounding woods, then a big gust of wind arrived creating a whirlpool of red and gold leaves through the air. It was peaceful and surreal at the same time. I turned to princess and said, "This is lovely, I am having a moment". Do not think she quite understood my place of zen. So I yelled ahead to loved one, "I am having a moment!" Breaking the silence, broke the moment, "What?" he hollered back. "I am having a moment!" I yelled again, (okay, moment is now gone). He smiled and waved, then we both yelled simultaneously, "It is raining leaves!" (Okay moment is back again! But now I have the song it is 'raining men' in my head for the rest of the journey.)

As we reached the top we were greeted by a sign advising us of a solarium and a naked man in a top hat with a walking stick. I needed to remind myself that in Italy a solarium is purely an outside deck, and I am pretty sure that the following picture was not an invite to an old age nudist colony, but informing us of a hiking trail.

We took great interest in watching the hang gliders take off from the top of the mountain, and I must admit I felt a little nervous for them running straight off the edge. When I asked daughter if she would like to have a turn, she replied, "I don't want to, daddy can do it!" In other words if its him or me, I am sacrificing my daddy! A beautiful position for a park, you certainly could not beat the view, and a lovely time was had on the swings, see-saw and slide. After a coffee and 3 interesting toilet visits with princess to the hole in the ground, (not sure if it was the cold weather or curiosity), it was time to climb back in our dustbins and descend the mountain.

A lovely day. Once again I find it hard to believe that all of this beauty is at our doorstep. Beginning to think that we are seeing more of Italy than most Italians! I know I didn't see enough of Australia when it was home. Sometimes you take home for granted.

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