15 Sep 2007
|Saturday 15th September Weather:- Cloudy 27 degrees
(J) Mantova or 'Mantua' is where we are staying tonight. I had not done much research on it as it was a last minute decision not to backtrack to Monza that bought about our stay here.
On leaving La Spiaggia Hotel (wich means the Beach in Italian) we were presented with a bottle of Andrea Poggi's own wine and after enquiries as to where we were venturing to we received a gastronomic list of eateries that we will pass on our travels. My thoughts are that coming from a man of his stature it might be a good idea to take his advice. We had a bit of fun last night just as we were about to go to sleep a one man band started playing in the little square in front of the hotel---he was very loud but also very good---we got up and watched for a while, sitting in our room with the louvers open it was a very merry scene. We have been sleeping with the windows open each night, listening to the surge of the waves—it has been magic. Soon after the music started people came to listen and to dance. We listened to a lot of Italian ballads, French love songs and popular English songs translated into Italian. It was just an unexpected extra that enhanced our stay. We don't know what time it finished as we both fell asleep. I think that we can sleep through an earthquake.
We again drove over the Mountains using the fantastic roads and I have finally found out why all the corn is growing around the place, it is used to make ethanol. There is a big outcry here in Italy because the price of PASTA is going up. Apparently a lot of the wheat crop has been replaced with corn as the monetary return was greater but now with the weather crisis around the world a lot of the wheat has been wiped out—as seen in Australia—so with the rise in wheat prices there is a little revolution here in Italy.
The journey took about 2 ½ hours and after passing the mountains we again passed a lot of farming land. Driving into the 'old town' of Mantua is everything that you expect on entering a medieval village. The origins of this town go back to prehistoric times but it started to flourish at around the turn of the first century and then it had its main renaissance during the 13/1400's. As you approach the 'old town' you come to a series (3) manmade lakes-built in the 11th century-on the other side of the lake you see the walls of 'Castelo di San Giorgo' A.D.1395 and 'Palazo Ducale early 1400s with the Basilica di S. Andrea A.D.1472--1494 towering over them to the left. It does not matter how much I try to describe the scene, it can better be told by photos.
We went to the local tourist information centre as we have only a short time here. We were advised to go on a boat trip as it was beautiful, lots of water lilies covering the lake and also a plantation of lotuses, pity no one told us that they only flower between March and August. There was great excitement, everybody rushed to the left of the boat---- to photograph a Cormorant sitting on a post----I got excited to find a sea gull sitting on another post. The little boat at West Lakes was starting to look very good. All this time there would have been so many better things to do. The walk to and from the boat was the best thing about it. As I walk past the castle and the palace. My mind wanders as I think of all those people that made the bricks and laid them and wonder in principal how different their lives really were from ours.
"That is enough Pase' Doble' for one night" Herman told me "I think it's time to go back to the hotel". So far we have joined the evening `passigata` in each town that we have been to in Italy. The 'passigata' is the evening stroll down the main drag where Italians go to see and be seen by friends and relatives. The teenage population seems to have an extra accessory here, that accessory being a very late model light silver push bike. Very expensive looking bikes they are too. While enjoying the walk we are on a secret mission to find the best gelato; so far the rockmelon ice cream in the centre of the Piazza Sordello in Mantova wins hands down. This evenings' walk took us past some of the best and famous designer shops, I keep stopping to check everything out and saw some of the nicest 'track suits'(they were not suitable for playing any sport though) and overcoats, also the shoes are extra special. I wonder if that is why Herman might have been in a hurry to get home. Anyway it is late, time to go to sleep again, talk to you all tomorrow.
(J) My travelling companion and technical adviser (Herman for those of you who have not worked it out) has twiddled around with the innards of my computer and has worked out what the "experts" did not----I AM ON THE AIR---- but because we are sending everything by satellite I will have to cut down on the photos a bit as they take too long to upload. If we are close to an internet cafe it will most probably be just as easy to go there but in the meantime here it comes via my computer and phone.