20 February 2016

Ciao Bella

The next chapter of our travels began the way all good chapters should - with food! We ate a hearty breakfast of Swiss cheeses, meats and fresh yoghurt in our chalet, gazing out at what we could only imagine was a lovely view. We had to imagine, because the white clouds from the previous day had settled around us like a cocoon, obscuring the mountains behind. But then all of a sudden, as I sipped my coffee and peeked over Mr Maggie May's shoulder, I could see a little peephole opening up amongst the fog.

We raced upstairs just in time to see the most adorable view in front of us; the ski chalets and cottages surrounding the town of Villars-sur-Ollon, with magnificent fir trees poking up between them. It almost felt Christmassy, even though there was no snow! It must look even more breathtaking in the winter.

After snapping some shots on our cameras, it was time to start the next leg of our journey, and so we jumped into the car and made our way back down the mountain. As we headed towards the edge of Switzerland, we saw toy towns nestled in the foothills, and tried to spot ski slopes, more tricky to recognise without their white coating.

Suddenly, having driven through a tunnel on the side of a mountain which looked exactly like something from a James Bond film (unfortunately Daniel Craig was nowhere to be seen), we were at the Italian border. As we gazed out of our windows, we could see the snow-capped peaks in front of us, glistening in the sunshine.

Winding our way through Italian villages, it felt strange to have the sun beating down on us from above the mountains with their chilly summits. The landscapes then started to change - vineyards sprawled in front of us, accompanied by the warm reds and oranges of the old Italian farmhouses. We stopped just after midday for an obligatory pizza and cappucino, tasting 'true' Italian cuisine with a delightful Nutella creation.

Having meandered our way past the outskirts of Milan, we arrived at our hotel in Corlo, near Modena. We were greeted with a cold, crisp gin and tonic in the garden - the best welcome you could ask for, I think you'll agree.

After a quick shower in our beautiful bathroom, it was time for dinner. The kindly waiter talked us through his menu of local specialities, and we were all enticed by the sound of fritto misto; a dish comprised of a variety of vegetables, including carrot, onion, aubergine and courgette, dipped in batter and fried in olive oil. The result: a tasty selection of crispy bites, but less to our liking was the crema fritta... fried egg custard. It is apparently very popular in northern Italy, but for me it didn't quite go with the onions!

Luckily, the waitress then brought us an assiette of Italian desserts which were gorgeous, ensuring our meal ended on a very positive note. There was an apricot tart, a chocolate sponge, a cheesecake and a custard tart (nice this time). After a final slurp of Pinot Grigio, it was time to get a good night's sleep, ready for our grand voyage the next day!

^ This picture went down very well when I posted it on Instagram!

Blinking from under the sheets of our glorious king size bed, I woke up the next morning early and ready for breakfast (as usual). There were pastries, breads, yoghurts, freshly baked biscuits, an array of fruit juices including blood orange, an Italian delight I remembered from a previous trip, and of course, a vat of Nutella the size of a small child!

Having gorged ourselves silly, it was time to wave goodbye to Formigine, and set off east towards the port in Ancona. As we arrived, there was quite a wait ahead of us, so we had time to drink a Fanta Lemon in the sunshine and admire the city views.

Finally, we were on the boat, and taken to our cabin where we were able to freshen up and change for dinner. After a G&T in the ocean view bar, we went off to sample some Greek cuisine in one of the boat's restaurants. After a slap up meal we made our way back to the cabin, where I managed to have one of the best snoozes in a long time, with the gentle bobbing of the boat rocking me slowly to sleep.


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