Wednesday, 4 July 2018

post-dated post script: lago benàco

Framed by the edge of the Dolomites—between Venice and Milano—Lake Garda (originally Benacus in Latin, both stemming from the Germanic root for warden and guard) and hewn by glaciers, we found ourselves lured out on the waters for another, extended boat trip that afforded us the chance to see most of the towns and villages along the shore and experience the majestic sweep of the forested foothills that rose steeply into mountains, the Gruppo del Baldo.
We passed camp at Isola San Biagio with Isola dei Conigli (the isle of the rabbits) no longer connected by a land bridge and thus isolating the bunnies. I had wondered about this change since first arriving and noting that one couldn’t walk there any longer and wondering if there was that much more snow melt flowing down into the valley or if before we had just visited at a particularly dry time.   In any case, I was impressed by the efforts of the residents to curb plastic waste by installing rubbish bins exclusive for recycling packaging along side every regular receptacle.
We also inspected the larger Isola de Garda where Francis of Assisi founded a monastery originally in the eleventh century (now marked by a Venetian façade), the promontory of Sirmione with its Veronese defensive castle, the bathing spot at San Felice del Benaco, Torri del Benaco and Salò, once the seat of government of Socialist Italy.
Not long after we docked at the old port in Manerba and returned our boat, there was the sudden and intense onset of a storm that first kicked up a lot of dust into the air and turned the sky a quite peculiar and ominous shade.
The geological history of this region informs very a favourably mild Mediterranean, to include support for citrus fruits, generating winds (i venti—all of which are named for their characteristics) at the mountain tops that rush into the valley, only to return to higher altitudes at the end of the day. I was a little worried about the ducks but they seemed to take to the surf and the rough waters like champions and seasoned veterans—even the babies.
The swans too seemed especially dramatic, staying together and blending in with the white-capped cresting waves and the buoys that bounced around. Protected as we were in the cove, I couldn’t imagine what it might have been like on the open lake. It grew stormy over the next few nights but by morning, all appeared back to normal and the hot, still conditions returned, with hardly a trace of wind or rain.