Sunday, June 24, 2007

June 24, 2007 – Lake Maggiore/Isola Bella

Basement of Isola Bella Castle - all made of little pebbles. Isola Bella Gardens White Peacock at Isola Bella View of the mountains from Isola Bella Gardens The Hydrangeas were incredible! This morning we got to sleep in a little bit. Ahhh! We were all so tired from the last week in Italy. We had constantly been on the go, so it was very nice to have a break. We went to Isola Bella this morning. It is a small island that is owned by Prince Charles Borromeo, a prince of Italy. There is a home on this island that has been owned by this family for centuries. We got to take a tour of most of the house (minus the private living quarters) and were amazed at how lavish the home was. The basement was so cool. It was covered completely from the floor to the ceiling in black stone from the lake. It served to keep the basement cooler in the summer time so the family didn’t’ have to endure the heat. It was gorgeous! Their gardens were also exquisite. As we walked up the path to enter the gardens, a white peacock had opened his feathers and was showing off for us. He was beautiful. I was so glad that we got to see him all opened up. The hydrangeas on the island were incredible. Huge blossoms and they were everywhere. I love things of beauty. In the little town of Isola Bella we bought a gelato and walked around enjoying the sites. We got back on our private boat and took our 10 minute ride back to the mainland. Everyone was pretty hungry, so we decided to go get pizza. There was a small pizzeria across the street from our hotel. We went in, but since there are 12 in our family, we had to sit at different tables. Chris and I wanted to share, but they wouldn’t let us so we each ordered our own. My dad wasn’t hungry at all. He had had an upset stomach all morning and didn’t’ think pizza would be the best for him. So he was going to sit with us as we ate. They got very upset, so dad said that he would just leave and the rest of us could eat. The waitress came out and snatched the napkin off of Grandpa’s lap and took away all his silverware, thinking it was he who did not want to eat. Because she was so rude to Grandpa, we decided to leave and eat elsewhere, so we left. Hopefully they hadn’t started on our orders yet. We ate a piece of pizza across the street and spent less on 2 large pieces of pizza than we would have spent on one pizza at the other place. I was great with spending less.  It upset Jason very much, though. He was embarrassed and felt like we looked like ugly Americans. We walked down to the end of town and heard lots of music, so we decided to be snoopy. We walked up to an amphitheater and saw one of the craziest dance recitals we have ever seen. The little girls were kind of cute – there was one really chubby one that I could have taken home with me – but the teenage girls dances were quite interesting. They had teased their hair so it looked wild, had painted their faces white, and did weird, fascinating moves. At one point, the main girl was in the center of a big white sheet like it was her skirt and the other girls were underneath it writhing around, and sticking their hands out of holes. I wish I could have understood what was going on. I really could have watched this for much longer, but the rest of the family was ready to go. It was so cultural. I loved it. We went back to the hotel, put on our swimming suits and went down to the pool. Chris played with the guys in the water, but I just laid on a beach chair and took a nap. How lovely. Chris and I went and played Ping Pong for a while, went for a walk through the Art gallery and I stuck my legs in Lake Maggiore. It was cool water, but very refreshing. It was lovely. So clear and clean. Chris and I gave our presentations tonight. Chris was absolutely hilarious. My favorite presentation so far. He had my entire family in stitches. He gave a monologue of a man who had worked on Venetian Merchant Ships, giving a description of what life was like for him. He spoke in an Italian accent, and drew so many funny elements from our trip in to his speech, such as when they would get up at 2 in the morning to work, “Mamma didn’t bring no espresso, no?” He was so funny. Chris and I went for a walk this evening after our presentations were over. We walked down to the end of town where we had been for the little girl’s dance recital earlier. It had turned in to an entire community dance. There was a live band, a kitchen where everyone was getting food, activities under one of the pavilions and many people dancing on the dance floor. Actually, it was mostly teenagers that were dancing, except it wasn’t like American teens dance. It was traditional dances of Italy, I would imagine. It was so much fun to watch the Daddy’s and Mommy’s take their little boys and girls out to the dance floor to teach them their traditional dances. This obviously happens a lot because even the little tots knew the dances. It was fascinating, and definitely the favorite part of both of our days. When we got back to the hotel from our evening walk, Dan and Stephanie’s door was wide open, but the lights were off in their room. I peeked inside and the bathroom light was on, but the door was closed. I knocked on the door and asked them if they were okay. Dan sheepishly said that they were, whereas Stephanie laughed and said between giggles that they had left their window open and bugs had come in. So they figured since bugs are attracted to lights, if they turned off the lights in their room and opened the hallway door then the bugs would go out into the hallway and they could go to bed. Shrug. Okay. So Chris and I went to bed. Shortly after we got into bed, there was a knock at our door. Stephanie came to see if they could crawl into bed with us since their plan didn’t work and their room was infested with bugs. So they did! There were 2 twin beds in our room. And there were 4 people in them. It made for an interesting night. Quite cozy. More interesting was when I got up in the morning, I couldn’t get anyone else out of bed. So since I was missing my cosmetics, I had gone to my parent’s room to borrow my mom’s make-up. In the meantime, Dan had gotten up and gone to his room. Amy walked in my room, only to find Stephanie and Chris in bed. Amy said, “Where’s Sara?” and Stephanie responded with a big stretch and a yawn while saying, “Where’s Dan?” I’m sure that looked really interesting…

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