2018 Day 60 – Venzone

This morning we turned the key in the ignition…and nothing happened. Seriously. In the middle of the mountains. That actually happened. The process of elimination begins: the battery is new, it’s fully charged, nothing’s been left on. Curious and curiouser. We conclude: it must be a loose wire. We fiddle with a few and everything roars into life.

Just to be on the safe side we pop into a Fiat service centre – luckily there’s one on our path a couple of hours away. The nice boys at Prontoauto squeeze us in, run a diagnostic, fiddle for an hour or so and deem it, as we did, a loose wire, now tightened. They didn’t even charge us. How delightfully lovely of them.

The other good news is that roads have become wider, flatter, less fear inducing. AND….we finally found a supermarket and a bread shop. Yay! Now I don’t know about other people, but I love shopping in foreign supermarkets. Markets for preference, of course, but a supermarket will do just fine in their absence. And it’s my first Italian one! It offers clues on how the locals shop: bitter greens and many varieties lettuces feature strongly, as do endless pasta options fresh and dried, row after row of balsamic vinegars, a huge variety of smallgoods, cheeses, wine, interesting tomatoes and onions. All loose produce, from fruit and vegetables to grains and bread is sold by weight – that’s new. The delicatessen section is heaven on a stick. Much fun is had until Chris drags me away.

Believe it or not, despite another day’s driving, we’re still surrounded by mountains. They’re truly endless.

These are lower altitudes, I think, given that they’re treed all the way to the top. I’m not complaining – it’s still breathtaking. Especially as when we stop, we spot four of the eagles (the dots below!) that eluded us yesterday. Score! The binoculars reveal their unique wing tip feathers, looking very much like an outstretched fingers at the end of each wing.

We’re so close to the Slovenian border now, but decide on another day this side of the border, in the village of Venzone. It turns out to be another unexpected gem, a walled village with a history dating back to 500 BC. Sadly, it was flattened by an earthquake in 1976, then painstakingly rebuilt in its original style from the rubble. It must have been a massive undertaking, being completed only in 1990. Only one city gate remained standing and 47 people lost their lives, of an estimated 100,000 in the region.

Today Venzone has a lot to offer. Apart from its architecture, moat and history,

it has a busy square with plenty of restaurants, bars and cafes.

They do a roaring trade in locally made ice-cream and also grow lavender. Its heady scent perfumes the streets.

If that wasn’t enough, it was also the setting for the first 20 minutes of the 1957 movie “A Farewell to Arms” starring Rock Hudson.

We lap the village, pop in for drinks in the square and soak up the ambience. An Aperol spritz is just the thing to fit in with the locals. Later, we walk back in for dinner – I’m not in a cooking frame of mind. Standards are high – homemade ricotta and zucchini ravioli are the highlight and an excellent bitter salad with leaves so tiny and fresh they could only have been picked within hours. A perfect tiramisu to finish. No photos I’m afraid – dinner by candlelight, and I draw the line at using a flash in a restaurant.

A walk reveals I need to work on my Italian. Whilst I can order in restaurants without any problems, the local cats refuse to understand me!

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