Italy Tour: Ron and Martha Rossing

Jerry,
We loved the trip! Our only setback was the missed flight out of Kennedy which gave us a 24 hour delay. That had nothing to do with Umfulana. We had just an hour to make the change from our Minneapolis-to-New York flight and because of mechanical issues that flight was delayed, so we were put up in a hotel in Queens.

All of the accomodations were excellent. We were so glad that, with your help, and our son--in-laws recommendations we cut down our stops and enjoyed three overnights in delightful Levanto and two at the BalsoneDimerol. The Al Terra di Mare, despite the 40 steps to the reception office and the James Bond drive up the hills outside Levanto, was perfect. The owner family were helpful in recommending great restaurants in town. We fulfilled the dream of hiking from Monterosso to Vernazza, a rather vigorous 2 hour hike, in Cinque Terra. Then took the train to Manarola and had a leisurely twenty minute stroll to Riomaggiore where we boarded the train back to Levanto. Ron laid his glasses down on the wall outside Monteroosso as he was too carefully preparing for a camera shot and they disappeared. We were more careful after that about our personal items! Had we had more time I think we could have hiked through all five villages since, I think, we started with the most difficult hike. We've been trying to remember which hotel in Levanto was on the original itinerary. Was it the Grand? That hotel is right on the beach, but I think would have been much noisier, so we were happy to be out in the valley where several church bells pealed the hours across the valley. Ron thoroughly enjoyed the swimming pool and I read in our suite. Rafael at the Dimerol Balsone was delightful and nice to get to know someone who had lived in that area his entire life. Our breakfasts were eaten surrounded by dozens of lemon trees and a view of the Bouganvilla growing up the side of the villa. He, too, made good recommendations for our time along Lake Maggiore and for restaurants. Enjoyed meeting his two dogs, one an expert at finding truffles in season. On our next trip we hope to allow more time in Lucerne. We had a great meal at the Wildmann. Sometimes we're sceptical in the states about hotel restaurants but this was definitely a wonderful choice.

Our only criticism on the trip would be that the estimated travel times were too short. The drive from Ascone to Gardone Riviera was at least five hours. Fortunately, we did not feel much of a time pressure since your information indicated they'd hold rooms til 7 p.m. It may be that we had not caught on at that time to look for green autobahn signs instead of the blue, but I don't think we could have found an autobahn through the Como region on down to Galdone Riviera.

Since we had lived in Germany for three years, Ron was pretty comfortable with the drive and we drove just under 1,000 miles. I, as the navigator, could have had my memory refreshed that the numbering of roads is much less important than in the states, and that it is good to study the map and familiarize oneself with the small cities on the path to where one is going so as to make the appropriate road changes to get there. We encountered one two hour detour in Italy on our way back to Ascona due to washed out roads during a storm we had completely missed. That detour was up into the mountains on hairpin turns, meeting cyclists and motorists who were often headed down the middle of the road toward us and moved over at the last minute. Our hotel receptionist at the SeeSchloss indicated he's heard about that road but had intentionally avoided it.

I'm not going to think real hard about this, but I don't believe we ate more that one meal inside-breakfast at the Wildmann in Lucerne--otherwise enjoyed terrace breakfasts and outdoor dinners the entire time. How wonderful....Thank you for arranging this tour.. Martha and Ron Rossing