Joss took the morning’s first shower and reports that we have a psychedelic showerhead: it has LED lights that cycle through blue, green, and purple, tinting your lather while contributing nothing to your spirits. Far out, Italia! But, hey, let’s do more laundry! We know now that a complete cycle will take about four hours, so we can establish a leisurely pace today, beginning by dealing with semi-homemade breakfast of nasty croissant and joe from a machine.
Sirmione’s strategic position meant it controlled Lago di Garda, the largest in Italy and a major transalpine trade and military route. In the 13th century, the Scaligeris began construction of a fortress to protect the peninsula and lake and therefore, the Veneto, their investment. And this is exactly what a small fortress should look like, crenellated walls and towers and a moat, as well as a protected harbor. We cross the moat, circle the battlements, and climb the main tower for views of the town, the vast lake, and the mountains beyond the far shore.
Our custom has become ordering a pair of pizzas for lunch and share halfsies. Kinda struck out today – very blobular disks, these. Way too much fucking cheese. I doubt this outcome will alter our pie habit. After cheese-a-rama, we stroll out to the tip of the peninsula, where the ruins of an enormous Roman villa lie. For centuries, it has been called the Grottos of Catullus, for no other reason then the poet described a home in Sirmione. The villa’s a complete ruin, foundation walls almost exclusively. It is situated on a bluff that rises a hundred feet above the lake and commands attention even under these much reduced circumstances. A grove of olive trees the size of a football field covers the central open area. Along the length of the structure runs what was a wide basement corridor called a ‘cryptoporticus’, now the favorite word of day. The villa possesses a spectacular vista, while below is a ‘beach’ called Jamaica Beach.
We wend our way down. It’s not a sandy beach, but yards and yards of flat, worn limestone, populated by isolated groups of people. No one is swimming; the lake must be getting chilly. After all, it’s all Alpine runoff. We follow the beach around the bluff all the way back to place where we first had lunch.
It had to happen. The BAD MEAL. I noodled online and trusted the significant props the place got from TripAdvisor. No names will be mentioned nor food details summarized. Pfeh. I hope we don’t wake up puking.