Posted by: roamingolivia | April 27, 2010

Visit to Stresa (Lake Maggiore)

Now that David is gone, I really need to update my blog. I got ridiculously behind because I was really busy with work and travel, which means if anyone still checks this site, they can see a lot of pictures this week. But considering that I didn’t post for so long, it’s possible no one reads this blog anymore.

Anyway, about two weeks ago we went to Stresa, a city on Lago Maggiore, which is really beautiful. We just went for dinner after I went to work, so these pictures are almost entirely from when we first got there and walked through the town – and not much later because I didn’t have a good enough camera to take pictures at night.

But let’s start with the train station:

Cute yeah? I hope you can see those.

Anyway, then we took a windy road past some flowering trees (I love spring) and a nice yellow church:

Then there was a building with lots of different types of chimneys on it:

And finally the lake, which is beautiful:

And then there was this great cafe with a hand-painted sign with a dancing elephant:

And more of the lake and old people sitting on benches:

Now here is me next to a mermaid and some geese (this picture is very random, sorry):

And, finally, this good cart selling gelato (yum), plus American coffee AND German coffee:

That’s pretty much all the pictures I have, but now I have stories. After this, we sat down for a small drink, wandered around and considered the pluses and minuses of every restaurant. We chose Osteria degli Amici, where I had risotto (so good) and something else for main (can’t remember what… that’s weird). But it was also good. Anyway, after that, we had a drink at an amazing local wine bar with a weird name – can’t remember what it is called, either, but you should definitely go there if you are in Stresa (ha).

And then we took the last train back to Milan. In the train station, there were about 40 men (and one woman) watching an Inter (football/soccer) game, and it was amusing to see them all lined up in little rows on their little plastic chairs. Most weren’t drinking or eating anything, but it is clear that the station was an ideal place (and probably one of the very few places in the town?) to watch the match.

The train on the way back was amusing. All but two cars were pitch black and closed to passengers, but it wasn’t crowded anyway. At the second stop, we sat for a really long time, while the caribinieri (one of five types of police here) talked to a group of teenage boys on the platform. The guys didn’t seem threatening, particularly by standards you acquire in the US (with its really high crime rate) or UK (with its football hooligans). This went on for about 30 minutes, in total calm. Pardon the details here, but I started to really, really have to go to the bathroom, and there were no bathrooms in the two working train cars. I was scared to go far away from the train, so I couldn’t go in the station.

Finally, we started to leave, and I begged the conductor (who was lovely) to take me to the bathroom in the dark part of the train. Which he did. We asked what happened with the train, and why the caribinieri had been talking to the guys.

“They were smoking pot on the train, and I told them to keep quiet, but they started to scare the other passengers, so we had to stop,” he told us, as if this were a normal explanation. Probably the best thing was that he hadn’t actually been concerned about the fact they were smoking an illegal substance on the train, but that his main concern was about keeping peace on the train. In general, this is somewhat of a working principle, not to turn this blog into a format for cliches about Italy: for many people, the human aspect of their job is more rewarding and more important than the so-called rules. But I won’t descend into some sweeping generalisation about Italian society.

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