As the next day is a Sunday, when Continental petrol stations tend to be closed, we fill up next to the hotel. While we're there, Howard notices that my back wheel is loose and wobbly, John produces the tools to tighten it up, and I stand and watch like a useless pathetic girly girl.
Apart from their petrol excursion most of the bikes won't be going anywhere today, but Howard and I go for a leisurely circuit of the nearby hills. We pass mountain villages and a shining lake dotted with little boats, and sit in the shade outside a café waving at passing motorcycles. BMW GS Adventure...sportsbike...GS...Gold Wing...GS...GS...sportsbike sportsbike sportsbike neeeoww...yay, scooter!...GS...
By the time we've got back and tested every single setting on the jacuzzi, it's time for dinner. What do I love best about Italy? Scarfing down pizza and ice cream as a legitimate part of the cultural experience!
On Sunday we set off again, the blue skies and slab-sided mountains straight out of a BMW catalogue. We spend much of the morning sharing the roads with a bicycle rally, but manage not to kill anyone despite the best efforts of some of the cyclists.
Regrouping at a scorching bus stop, we discover that our chosen road, although it passes by the motorway we require, doesn't actually join it. We muddle along until a much-needed lunch at the Bolzano bus station, where a €5 deal brings you a piping hot pizza, round, fresh and herby, with a glass of Coke. Now imagine lunch in a bus station in the UK!
John declares an hour's rest until the afternoon cools off. I'm too impatient to press on for relaxing under a tree, and prowl off in search of ice cream - which, at lunchtime on a Sunday in Italy, is scarcer than you might think.
GPS error leads us on and off a dual carriageway and through a housing estate. Then there's a beautiful rocky pass, but it's buzzing with sportsbikes and I have to concentrate on not getting smashed into. We pause at the bottom, where a German biker coming the other way asks me if the pass is open. I understand on the second try, and ask in return, at Howard's request, whether he knows of a nearby bar where we could watch the Moto GP.
We're pointed down the road, where there's no Moto GP but there is delicious cold lemonade. After two of these I'm ready to go on. Roger and Roy decide to join the motorway and John is off somewhere, possibly beating his GPS to death and jumping on the remains. Howard and I decide to stick with the original plan and make our way to Garda using the Mendel Pass.
There's a long tailback down to the motorway, but the right-hand road leading up to the pass is empty. We filter past, escaping the aggressive BMW driver who's been trying to force himself into my space, and head upwards into the cooler air.
It's a balmy, golden evening, and the road runs alongside a lake, under crumbling cliffs. There are still a few miles to go around Lake Garda itself, so we stop in a touristy, seasidey town and eat pasta and omelette, the bikes parked over the road at the water's edge and the setting sun turning everything pearlescent. After a hot, sticky day filled with miscellaneous annoyances, I find myself perfectly happy.
It's getting dark by the time we set off again, yet it's still warm and there are people down by the water fishing, swimming or just hanging out. Garda, when we arrive, has a jaunty buckets-and-spades vibe, and the hotel room is vast and air-conditioned.
Yup, Garda is my kind of town. A shame it's now gone 10PM and we're leaving first thing in the morning.
Oh, but that last pass was worth it!
< Ieri | Domani >