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ITALY Trip Report: Lake Garda

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Hi Everyone,

We have returned from our glorious 10 day vacation to Italy including three nights in Venice, 2 nights in Lake Garda and 5 nights in Tuscany.

I’ve posted my review of Venice this morning and I’ll continue with my trip report of Lake Garda.

ARRIVAL:
Driving to Lake Garda was much quicker and easier than expected. Leaving Venice its just one main road more than 60 percent of the way. Heading up the North West side of the lake was confused with 20 "roundabouts" but we managed. The lake was beautiful and the snow topped mountains made for an enjoyable trip to our hotel.

HOTEL:
It was quite difficult to find our hotel. I wished I would’ve known. I had my map and navigation but there were no signs telling us were to go. Villa Feltrinelli is very peaceful and secluded for that reason so we knew we were close. The map appeared to want us to head in a direction which was closed for road work. Finding the small unpaved alternate route was quite a nuisance. Though we finally arrived near 5pm. As we pulled up to the gated entrance we did not know what to expect or do. We drove to the closed gate and rang the bell. We could see down the road and through that the hotel was down by the lake. Upon pushing the buzzer and announcing our name they opened the gate and we proceeded down the winding roadway with beautiful landscaping. As we pulled up, thankfully in our "nicer" rental car we were overwhelmed. It was marvelous! The staff greeted us outside with flowers and a welcome drink. They spoke English as if it were their primary language. The foyer was marvelous filled with priceless antiques. We know were may have been a bit out of our league staying here but we felt right at home. Upon walking to our room called the "Orientale" we marveled at the architecture in the main building. Our actual room exceeded 40 sq meters. It included three rooms, bedroom bath and walk in closet. The closet was bigger than mine at home. Our room was truly magnificent. The largest room I've ever had in my life. The linens and decor was just as the name implied...oriental in design. It was elegant and romantic. The linens were all Egyptian cotton. The large TV included a DVD player where we could borrow a movie if we wanted. They had a decent selection. Both the bath and bedroom had separate surround sound with 9+ selections of preset music (jazz, opera, classical, pop, relaxing etc). The bath was also white marble and included the best rain shower I've ever used. My long hair could be washed and conditioned in record time! Having music in the bath was nice and the thing I like was the window shutters. There were often two or three sets per window. One that opened like pocket doors (guess they'd be pocket windows) one that opened in and a set of shutters outside. I wish our windows at home were made like this it was really incredible! They have an unpacking service (which wasn't necessary for us) and they launder and iron all clothes for free. The minibar included numerous beverages, wine and champagne all included for free. They provide food and special requests to the room for free (we found out when we saw our less than anticipated bill). There were three phones in our room. Everything you could possibly imagine. While sitting lakeside on the grounds someone was always there to serve you. They never bothered you and most of the time you didn't know they were there. Laying poolside was a treat with wonderful drinks offered, treats, and sorbets to keep you cool. You don’t sign anything on the grounds. You don’t need to show a room card, you simply tell they the room name. It was incredible. I got an outdoor massage by the water. They even massaged my face it was wonderful. They offered laptops for guests to use in the library for free internet access. They really make you feel at home.

DINNER:
We ate at the Villa the first night. I wish we ate there both nights it was really our best dinner of our trip. We ordered a bottle of wine which we discovered later that was never charged to our bill. We had a five course tasting menu. It was superb! Duck, rabbit, ravioli, etc... Dessert was so unique I plan to email them for a description. During dinner they served an olive pate with homemade breadsticks which was so delicious we ordered more. While speaking with the maitre d we thanked him and expressed just how memorable our meal was. He offered for us to meet the chef, tour the kitchen and wine cellar. We gladly accepted and were thrilled to have a sneak peak behind the scenes. The chef showed me the olive pate that I loved so much mentioning the easy recipe which I was happy to hear. They even sent extra olive pate to our room for a midnight snack! My husband loves chocolate milk and they would send warm chocolate milk to the room for him to enjoy. During dinner we befriended a lovely couple who were admiring our dessert. They ordered it as well. We ended up chatting over drinks for an hour. They were from LA and were talking with us about their kids our pets at home and our trip planning. The husband loves to extensively plan their vacations and was laughing about my 70 page PowerPoint presentation including all our trip details. Apparently he travels like that. He mentioned a great guidebook which I hadn’t heard of and even went to his room and got it for me to read overnight. It was interesting! During our conversation they very casually mentioned there daughter writes for one of my favorite TV shows. I had remembered her name which was hyphenated and very common. And just for fun, last night we googled them; turns out the husband who we were dining and chatting with that night founded HBO pictures and headed Tri-Star making movies like Jerry Maguire and American Beauty. Unbelievable! They were such a nice, friendly and normal couple. We were elated last night when we found out. We saw them during the rest of our trip and they always said hello asking how our night was. Amazing! When we returned to our room, there was a pillow on our bed with embroidery of our dog which is a cavalier king charles spaniel. We looked at each other thinking, how on earth is this pillow HERE. Then we remembered during dinner saying we missed him and telling the couple from CA what breed we had. So the hotel staff put the pillow in our room so that we could sleep with our dog like we do back home. As if that wasn’t enough, when we went to the bathroom they had put roses everywhere including in our actual toilet bowl. I took pictures of course hehe.

TOURING AROUND LAKE GARDA:
The lake is large and we stayed on the west side. We walked around the neighboring towns which had some shops. It was very quiet and beautiful. It was quite unique and a nice change a pace because Venice was busy and Tuscany was quite intense as well. My husband adored this hotel and area. I was surprised because he tends to shy away from over the top luxuries. I think he enjoyed the outstanding service and peaceful atmosphere which is very different than new york city life.

DEPARTING:
Upon departing, I took a bottle of water from the “free” minibar for the road. As we got downstairs to checkout, they had prepared a little goodbye bag for us with two bottles of water. They knew we were traveling to another destination and we it was very thoughtful of them to give just hat. Just SEVEN star service (service in another class completely).

I would love to return again, staying two nights was a treat, but 3 or 4 nights would be magical.

I’ll continue with Tuscany tonight or tomorrow!

Trip TO BE CONTINUED…
Natalie

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