LA SERENISSIMA – October 7th

Let’s go! Because, on Wednesday’s triumphal entry into Verona, we abandoned our VW in the far away Arena parcheggio, we will schlep our worldlies to the car, drop ‘em, and then pay a visit to the nearby Arena, which we have not seen except from the outside. Ever-practical, we hail a cab. The arena is colossal, stupendous, built in Century One. It takes reminding that it is a building and not a geological feature. Joss and I wander among the tiers, marveling at the bizarre setup underway below. What is Andrea Bocelli up to? A thirty-foot stark white head looms from the back of what I suppose to be the stage and in the ‘infield’, a vast area of white plastic has been unfurled. SuperTarp! What THE FUCK is Andrea Bocelli up to? It turns out this will be a performance of Andrea Bocelli – ON ICE! We fucking missed it. My most grievous regret.

Joss, the navigatore esperto, guides us to Sirmione, an ancient town at the tip of a skinny peninsula that juts into southern Lago di Garda. A police pass is required to enter Sirmione. Automobile traffic is restricted, due to the narrow, medieval thoroughfares and a clusterfuck of heedless pedestrians/tourists wielding lopsided cones of drippy gelato. Quickly, Joss becomes way unhappy. I stop the car. We breathe. After a couple dead ends, loop-de-loops, and hysterical backings-up, we finally arrive at our one-bedroom-with-a-lake-view-terrace B&B. And a miracle unfolds.

The apartment has a washing machine. We throw in a load of darks, wait for what we assume is enough time for a thorough cycle, then stop waiting and drift down to the Lake to find a salad, returning to the sound of continuing tumbling, and not even the goddamn spin cycle. We made a bet and Joss wins a gelato. She rejiggers the machine and we walk into Sirmione, past Maria Callas’ villa, to find some milk for morning tea (and some cookies), only to return to continued washing. Six hours later, clean clothes. With joy in our hearts, we drape the hyper-clean items on a drying rack on the terrace.

The next couple days in Sirmione will offer us a respite from our heady pace. We just won’t move the fucking car until we leave. The crowds seem to be mostly Italians taken advantage of a beautiful weekend and the end of tourist season. A dog has been barking outside our door off and on all day. On top of that, those much-desired cookies turn out to be BAD! Yummy-looking sandwich-type confections in lemon and chocolate with booze-drenched filling. Pfeh.

As we depart to find dinner on the streets, a nonna and that yipster pet tussle in the hall. She can’t control the thing, which takes out its pique on my ankle. Ow. We scram. Later, because of repetitive nonna hollering, we learn the dog’s name is Eric.

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