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WHY WE KEEP RETURNING

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Photo by Italo Trimeloni www.lake-garda-italy.net

I have been to Rome, Florence, Venice, Portofino, Cinque Terre, Sorrento, Lake Como, Bellagio, Positano, Amalfi, the Hill Towns, Lucca, Ortisei, Pisa, Portovenere, Verona, Merano, Bressanone, etc. and all the towns on Lake Garda. But my favorite place in Italy is Malcesine on Lake Garda.

Since 2008 my wife Leslie and I have been spending part of our holiday every year in Malcesine, Italy on Lake Garda. We have returned to stay in Malcesine seven times since then. We now return two times a year.

We keep returning because we love this small town, the cobblestone pathways, the music under the Gazebo at the harbor during the summer and the live music outside of the Café Statuto (where locals gather after a long day of work for drink, music and dancing).
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The two videos below are music under the gazebo at the harbor in 2013.

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I also return for Linos’ millefoglie at Pasticcieria Susy and the gelato at Cristinas’ Parfum de Glace. I better not forget to mention Roccos’ trattoria “Da Pedro” where you will probably get a complimentary Limoncello and, if you go there often enough, a complementary bottle of wine from Rocco to take to back to your room.

I love to walk around the town at night after all of the tourists have departed. Late at night when I walk in front of the Captains Palace it is so quiet I can hear my footsteps echo down the street. At night after the tourists have departed, I look at the architecture, the dimly lit cobblestone walkways, the few people still out for a walk and for some reason I feel like I am in Disneyland. As I continue walking I take myself 500 years back in time and wonder what was going on here at that time.

But most of all I like to return to Malcesine because of all the people I have met there and how friendly they have been to us. When I walk around the town more people say hello (Ciao) to me and know me then do in my hometown in California
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We first met Italo (owner of Italo-Italy) in June of 2012 while walking from the town center to the lake promenade. Italo sells fine leather belts, purses, luggage and more. Italos’ leather shop is across the street from the Hotel Vega. Leslie happened to see Italo one morning when she was walking and started talking to him as he speaks very good English. Italo was very friendly and had no qualms about talking to us. Italo and I talked about life in Malcesine, life in Italy, life in the USA, politics, economics, etc. During our June holiday in Malcesine we talked several times to Italo on the way to our morning walks down the promenade.

We returned to Malcesine in October of 2012 and during our morning walk we stopped to say hello to Italo. He remembered us from our June holiday and we continued with our conversations just as we had in June. In fact, Italo was kind enough to invite us to dinner one night to a trattoria in Marniga. The food was great as Italo recommended pasta with pesto sauce and stockfish. The pesto sauce was so different then the pesto sauce in America. It wasn't green and creamy, it was delicious. Italo and I had a great conversation discussing business, economics and politics.

Italo works very hard and long hours from the time he opens in the morning until he closes in the evening. All the people I have met in Malcesine are very hard workers who work long hours and would do very well if they worked in or owned a business in the USA.

In October 2012 our thirteen day holiday in Malcesine ended and we said goodbye to Italo and he asked me to send him an email when we arrived back in California. When I sent Italo the email he was kind enough to send me a recipe to make pesto sauce.

We returned to Malcesine in May 2013 for three weeks and each week Italo brought me a special pastry (Ofelia) from Caprino which is a town 45 minutes from Malcesine. He says as far as he knows it is only made in this one bakery in Caprino.. Even Leslie agreed it was fantastic and said she had never had anything like it. This triip we also saw Italo's beautiful and talented daughter, Aurora, perform in the Wizard of Oz (in Italian of course) at her school.

Back in June Italo and I were talking and I mentioned my love for pastries. He immiediately told me I must try the millefoglie made by Lino (pronounced Leeno) at Pasticcieria Susy. Italo was kind enough to draw me a map so I could find Lino.

I found Lino and his pasticcieria tucked away near the mini golf and asked him for a piece of millefoglie. Lino does not speak very much English but I can speak a little Italian. So when I asked Lino for a piece of millefoglie he said he usually makes it for weddings, birthdays and special occasions. He wrote something on a piece of paper and told me to come back the next day at 1:00 PM for some millefoglie. Since he only makes it for special occasions I hoped he understood that I said I wanted uno pezzo (one piece) and that he was not going to bake a whole cake for me. When I returned the next day I could see all of the cakes Lino had for sale but I did not see a cake that looked like millefoglie. I did see one piece of pastry with a piece of paper under the plate. Well, it turns out that Lino made one piece of the millefoglie especially for me. I sat down to eat the millefoglie at Susy’s and Lino asked me if I liked it. I told him it was delicious and he asked me if I wanted to return the next day for another piece. I said yes, so he made an appointment for me to return and he made another piece especially for me. This time Lino sat down with Leslie and I and, with my limited knowledge of Italian, and Linos’ limited knowledge of English we had a very nice conversation about Malcesine.

When we returned to Malcesine in October 2012 I made sure I went to Susy’s’ to say hello to Lino and to ask for a piece of millefoglie. Lino remembered me and said he was happy to make another piece for me and made an appointment for me to pick it up the next day. When I got my millefoglie the next day I realized that Lino usually makes a whole cake/pastry of millefoglie and instead of making a whole cake he was making just one piece for me. I realized that it had to be a lot of work and effort for him to make just one piece instead of a whole cake. So after I had my one piece, when I continued to return for pastries, I just asked for something else I saw that he had already made. Hey Lino, I really appreciate you making just one piece especially for me. You won't find a friendlier or more jovial person then Lino anywhere

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The first person to actually say hello "ciao” to me when I was walking through the town was Simona who works at Arte Cafe in the Piazza Turazza area. She usually works with Ramona who also says ciao to me and waives hello when I walk by the café. I first met Simona in 2008 when I would use the internet at the café. I talked to her a little bit and each night I would return to use the internet. One day I was walking through the town away from the café and someone yells out “ciao” to me. Simona had recognized me and was friendly enough to say ciao.

In 2010 I no longer needed to use the internet at the café but I stopped by to say ciao to Simona and Ramona. They both remembered me, smiled and asked how I was. Ever since, when we return to Malcesine I stop in the café and say ciao to them. Like everyone else I see year after year, they both work very hard, yet have time to be friendly to me.

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The next person to say hello to me when I walked through the town was Hisham, the owner of Malcesine Boats at the harbor in front of the Pizzeria Da Mario. I would walk by Hisham and see him every day and, probably in 2010, he started to recognize me as someone he had seen again and again and he began to say “salve” when he saw me. In 2012 instead of just walking by and saying “ciao” to him I went up to him I asked him his name.

I see Hisham and Nadia (sister in law) working all day long everyday getting boats ready in the morning and then sitting by the harbor all day waiting to rent one of his boats. If you want to rent a boat in Malcesine stop by and say hello to Hisham and rent one of his boats. Tell him the guy from California told you to say hello.

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Cristina is the owner of Parfum de Glace across from the Lago di Garda Hotel and just around the corner from the Café Statuto. I have been going to Cristinas’ for gelato since we first started going to Malcesine. She always has great flavors to choose from. One of my favorites is Bounty which tastes like an Almond Joy candy bar. In September 2012 she remembered that I like a 2 euro gelato in the afternoon and a 3 euro gelato at night. I like to think that since I go there twice a day that she gives me a little extra gelato. Cristina will always greet you with a big smile and a Ciao. The day before we were returning to the USA in October I bought my last gelato for the year and told Cristina we were going back to America the next day. She came out from behind the counter and gave Leslie and I a big hug and kiss goodbye. Cristina, if you read this, thanks for the extra big scoops?
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We like to eat at Da Pedros’ which is owned by Rocco. Rocco, like everyone else, is very friendly and makes a pizza unlike any I have had in America.
He will greet you at the door with a loud "Hi darling" or "hello boss". We have been eating there for several years now and we usually eat most of our dinners there. I know he has a busy business with many tourists and locals eating there every night. I think in 2012 he remembered us as he started giving us a bottle of wine every night to take with us back to our room. After a while I had to tell our waitress, Adela, that we still had four bottles in our room and if she gave us one more I would have to open up a wine bar in town.

Over the years Adela has usually been the person that has taken our order. In September 2012 I spoke with her a little bit and just like everyone else, she was very friendly. In fact one night I went to Da Pedros’ alone and Adela asked where my wife was. I told her she was feeling sick. When Leslie and I returned to Da Pedros’ a few nights later Adela remembered Leslie had been sick and asked Leslie if she was feeling better.

One day while walking in town I saw Adela for the first time while she was not at work. I almost didn’t recognize her as she looked so relaxed and carefree. Da Pedro’s is a very busy and hectic trattoria and I can see that you have to be on top of your game to work there. Like everyone else Adela is a very hard worker and she would earn a lot of money in tips in the USA.

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The first time we stayed in Malcesine we stayed at the Hotel Vega owned by Marco (speaks great English). Marco also works long hours and has always been friendly to us. Some people have written on the internet that he is rude but I find that he has a different sense of humor. Some people may think he is being rude or mean when he is actually joking with the people. He has a bit of a sarcastic sense of humor which I understand and enjoy. We have not been able to stay at Marcos’ since 2008 but he still remembers us. In 2012 we stopped by his hotel to say hello. I asked him if he remembered us and he said “of course, room 26 from California”.

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In June 2012 we stayed at Hotel Lago Di Garda for a few days. The owner is Mariana who is originally from Scandanavia. In fact it turns out her nephew is Rocco. Well when we returned to Malcesine on Lake Garda in October I was walking through the town and saw Mariana. She remembered me (even though we only stayed with her 2 nights in June) and she said ciao. In fact on another day Leslie and I were talking to Italo outside of his shop and Mariana went by on her bicycle. I yelled out “ciao” to her and she turned around and came back to talk with Leslie myself and Italo.

The Bruschetta Pizza at the Hotel San Marco is delicious. The hotel is owned by Lidia and Livio, Their son Stefano is always there to greet us with a great big smile and a hug. When we were there in October we saw Stefano’s beautiful new baby girl, Lenna. His younger brother Max attends the university in Verona. When speaking to Mariana one day she mentioned that her daughter is Max's girlfriend. What a small world, or should I say town.
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This is the view while having dinner in front of the Hotel San Marco
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There are others I see in town over and over who give me a nod, a smile or a “buon giorno” but I don't know their names.

Last but not least, if you are in town at night on a tuesday make sure you stop by the Cafe Statuto for a drink and listen to Diego sing and play music while you watch some of the smoothest dancers in town. You will probably see Lino up there dancing too.

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I know it is because we are on holiday when in Malcesine (and not working 12 hours or more a day like the people that live there), but with all the friendly people and the ambiance of the town I always feel like I am spending my holiday in Disneyland, so we keep returning.

To Italo, Lino, Adela, Cristina, Rocco, Hisham, Simona & Ramona, Mariana, Stefano, Massimilliano, Marco (more Fonzies please) and to all the other friendly and loving people of Malcesine, I say GRAZIE MILLE for making Leslie and I feel at home in Malcesine.

Posted by oinchats 22:29 Comments (0)

RETURN TO MALCESINE: Giorgia & Italo to the rescue

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We returned to Malcesine for just over 3 weeks in September 2013

My problems began early on a friday morning when I upgraded to the new Apple operating system. I forgot my new pass code and my IPad became disabled. It was unusable and virtually worthless. For about 5 hours that Friday I went to the local tech store for help. I also made several phone calls to Apple. All of this to no avail.

The next morning I returned to the tech store for a couple of hours to try and get my iPad working. Finally I was told they could not help me.

I then went to see Italo at his store and told him of my problem. Giorgia, Italo's employee, overheard me telling Italo about my iPad problem. Giorgia speaks and understands English better then she thinks because she then told Italo that her boyfriend had an Apple MacAir and when she was done working for the day she would go get it and try and help me.

After Giorgia was finished working she brought the MacAir to Italo's store. She began to try and erase and then restore the operating system. At one point in time I was on the phone for help with Apple USA, Italo was on the phone with Apple Italia (with an answer center in Romania) and Giorgia was busy at the control of the MacAir.

After helping me for an hour and a half I told Giorgia I felt bad she was spending her Saturday afternoon trying to fix my iPad and she should stop and enjoy the rest of her Saturday. She said it was no bother and wanted to keep trying to fix my iPad. Finally after 2 hours Giorgia had my iPad working again. I thanked her for her help and tried to give her 10 Euros. She would not accept it. I tried to slip it in her purse and she gave it back to me. Keep in mind that Giorgia had never even met me before. Only a special person would spend two hours after work on a saturday helping a virtual stranger and then refuse the 10 Euros. Thank you so much Giorgia. I would not have been able to write this without you.

Giorgia is one of the best English speaking people I have met over the years in Malcesine and/or Europe I don't care what her teachers say, she speaks great English as I had several conversations with her and we had no problem communicating.

In May 2015 Giorgia finished her first year of nursing school in Trento. Only 2 more years to go. Her patients will be very lucky to have such a great and caring nurse.
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Of course during our stay I made many visits to Lino and Monica's Pasticcieria Susy. In fact I am writing this while sitting outside of Susy's. When I showed up today Lino asked me if I wanted a piece of millefoglie. I said "si, grazie mille". Lino proceeded to go to the back of the bakery and he made one piece of millefoglie especially for me (he usually only makes a whole cake and only for special occasions like weddings, birthdays, etc.). The cream filling is irresistible and so delicious that when you are done with a piece you want another one. Plus Lino would not let me pay for my piece. Lino, I can't thank you enough. Grazie Mille. A domani for some Black Forest cake.

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When we went to Rocco's trattoria Da Pedro we learned that Adela no longer worked there. I sent her an email telling her we missed her and it wasn't the same without her there (she had worked there at least 8 years). She responded and said she moved to Melbourne, Austrailia. Leslie and I really missed our conversations with her. Despite Adelas absence Rocco still makes a pizza that has no match that I have experienced in America.

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The other day Italo drove me to the town of Caprino, home of the Ofelia. I had told Stefano (from Hotel San Marco) I would bring him an Ofelia from Zomer's bakery to taste. I dropped off two Ofelia's for him at the hotel. When I walked by the hotel later Stefano said thanks and said they were delicious. In fact he asked if I was going back to Zomer's the next day. I asked why, did he want me to buy him something. He said yes, more Ofelia's. I contend that if the Ofelia dough was any lighter it would fly.

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It was Leslie's birthday today. This morning the doorbell rang and it was Italo with some beautiful flowers for her. Later in the day we were sitting outside Hotel San Marco having a cappuccino and Betta, who works at the hotel, says happy birthday to Leslie and gives Leslie a present. Mind you, we were not even staying at the San Marco this trip because we rented an apartment. Betta remembered Leslie's birthday from last year. C'mon, no way this would happen in any other town anywhere.

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Posted by oinchats 03:38 Comments (0)

MALCESINE "LIVE" -- SHOPPING UNDER THE STARS

Shopping Under The Stars

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Photo by Italo Trimeloni: http://www.lake-garda-italy.net
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We returned to Malcesine in late May 2014 for 13 days just in time for the beginning of all the summer music that can be heard during the day and at night in Old Town Malcesine.

Of course when we arrived I had to say hello to Cristina (Queen of gelato). She recognized me right away (we had become Facebook friends since Leslie and I departed Malcesine last October) and Cristina immediately came out from behind the counter to give me a great big hug and a kiss. The night before we departed Malcesine back to Calfornia Cristina gave Leslie and I our gelato's gratis (free). Cristina, if you read this, "grazie mile". We look forward to seeing you (and your gelato) in September.
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Then while walking through town on my way to see my friend Italo I hear a "Ciao". It was my friend Lino who also happens to be my favorite baker (and owner of Pasticceria Susy) in Italy. Lino came up to me and gave me a big hug. If you eat some of Lino's pastries at Pasticceria Susy tell Lino that Orrin from California says hello. Knowing that I have a weak spot for pastries, one day Lino took me into the back of the pasticceria and showed me where he makes his pastries. By the way, I tried Lino's Sacher Torte and put some of Cristina's gelato on top of the Sacher Torte. I felt I like I hit the torta/gelato jackpot. I ate this combination for desert several times during our time in Malcesine. Lino's Schwarzenwalder torta is also a favorite of mine.
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As always I spent a lot of time while in Malcesine with my good friend Italo who owns Italo-Italy (fine leather belts, purses, t-shirts, etc.). If you go to Italo's shop and tell him Orrin from California says "ciao" he will give you a 10% discount. His great assistant Giorgia was also there to greet us with her great smile, bubbly personality and a hug.

Italo has become a vegan so he is no longer eating Ofelia's with me from Zomer's in Caprino. Though he no longer was devouring Ofelia's he offered to buy some for me. I told Italo that since he no longer eats Ofelia's not to bother because it is an hour drive from Malcesine. But Italo would have none of that and one day brought me some Ofelias's to eat.

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This trip we tried something new to help us sleep better so we brought our blowup airbed from home with us. We put our eggcrate on top and we had the greatest nights sleep. The problem was that the airbed we brought from America works on 110 volts and the European electric system is 240 volts. Well, eventually (even though I used a converter) the airbed pump motor burned out. I mentioned it to Italo and he said he had seen an airbed in a mall about a year ago and he would drive me there. I told him it was too much trouble as it was a 2 hour round trip drive and he has a business to run (Italo-Italy fine leather and t-shirts). Again, he would not take no for an answer and he drove me to get the airbed (it was in a mall in a store comparable to Home Depot) and Leslie and I slept happily ever after. We left the airbed in Europe so we can use it on our next trip.

As usual almost every evening Italo and I would have an Aperol Spritz aperitivo across the street from his shop at the Hotel Vega (owned and operated by Marco). It was nice to see Marco again and he was as friendly as ever. If you need a place to stay in Malcesine contact Marco and inquire about a room on the lake or with a view of Monte Baldo. As you can see below, one day Italo had a bit too much Aperol.
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This trip we rented an apartment and just about every morning we would wake up to some live music at the harbor outside of our balcony window. You may have to un-mute to hear the music.

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Now for the music and the nightlife in Malcesine. When we arrived in late May we had missed the opera singers that performed at night in the harbor on the sailing ship Siroa Veronica. Last year they had the "Tre Tenori" singing on the ship in the harbor. It was unbelievable, it was something out of a movie. On Tuesdays and sometimes some other nights you will find Diego playing music at Cafe Statuto.
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A couple of nights there was music in the harbor under the gazebo. This night there was some rock 'n roll.

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Another night under the gazebo there was some live jazz.

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It seems that during the summer Malcesine has "Shopping Under The Stars" once a month. Most of the stores, cafes and bars stay open late at night and the Old Town streets are lined with lighted torches and live music. Walking around I found at least seven bands playing at the same time throughout the town. Usually Cafe Statuto has some live music too on this night.
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Just a short distance below Piazza Turazzo I found two guys playing some good ole rock n roll.
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And just around the corner from our apartment past the Hotel San Marco we found these people while on our way to get some gelato from Cristina.
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I then continued walking and saw some people standing around clapping their hands to some music. I thought the music was from a CD coming from the bar. After a minute or so I realized that everyone was looking up on the roof. Yep, on the roof is a singer and a guy playing the guitar and keyboard.
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Some Bourbon Street and steel guitar in Malcesine? Leslie and I call him the "cowboy". When the cold weather and the winter comes he moves to Bolzano. During the day you will hear him playing outside the castle and around town for people while they eat and drink.
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I happened to stumble across some acoustic music at the Piazza Cavour, which is located just above the Piazza Turazzo. There was also a group playing music at the Piazza Turazzo.
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Cafe Statuto was closed (on holiday) for this Shopping Under The Stars but was open when I took this video in 2013. This trip we met Marco who serves tables at Cafe Statuto. You will see him running back and forth serving drinks. You can see him right at the beginning of the video
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Diego also plays at Cafe Statuto on tuesday nights and sometimes on saturdays.
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Shopping Under The Stars 2013
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Just around the corner from Da Pedro's Trattoria there was a group playing in the walkway. When we ate at Da Pedro's we were pleasantly surprised to see that Adela was working there again. When we were at Da Pedro's last October we were sad to find out that she had moved to Austrailia. She talked to us quite a while and said she was happy to be back in Malcesine. Of course Rocco was there too and when we finished dinner as usual he gave us a complimentary bottle of wine to take back to our apartment. Thus ends our Shopping Under the Stars for June 2014.
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This is Marco from Cafe Statuto,, a very hard worker and a friendly guy. Stop by Cafe Statuto and tell him Leslie and Orrin from California said "Ciao". .
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One day we took a drive up to San Zeno Di Motagna. In the town is a little restaurant that has a view of the entire lake. Now keep in mind that San Zeno is at an elevation of 2000 feet and about 15 miles and a good 40 minute drive from Malcesine. So after we finished having a drink we were walking to our car and someone yells out "Ciao Leslie, Ciao Orrin". It was Stefano. He was on a bike ride from Malcesine and he was on his way back home.
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Stefano waives hello and listens to music outside Hotel San Marco. His parents Lydia and Livio own the hotel. Stefano helps run the hotel and I suspect will someday take over for his parents. He always as a big friendly smile and and a Ciao for Leslie and I.

You can see my other blogs about Malcesine at www.malcesineitaly.travellerspoint.com
Stay tuned for my next blog: Malcesine side trips

Posted by oinchats 21:15 Comments (0)

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