Leaving a place is always the same. You plan exactly ninety-five fun things to do and see on your last few fleeting days. You will visit XYZ for the last time, go to that place you always wanted to go but never got around to it. The last days will be epic and you can almost picture the days ahead in slow-motion, having a dreamlike glow framed with a soft and subtle white vignette that only Bob Ross and that Airbrush artist at the mall can capture. Unfortunately, reality stomps on any notion of nostalgia and hands you a dozen trash bags and moving boxes as the countdown for packing begins.
We managed to move out with few difficulties, although it took about 18 hours to completely pack up everything we own and cram it into the family chariot. Our itinerary has us on a path Northeast, traveling along the Mediterranean dodging in and out of tunnels with volatile glimpses of small coastal villages in France and Italy. Then our route takes us inland and the lake region of Northern Italy. Having already visited Lake Como, we decided to stop for a day in Lago de Garda in the old village of Malcesine. Luckily we escaped France, successfully avoiding all the 1.8 meter parking lots and toll booth overhangs with our Thule box and bike on the roof. One thing you will notice about people from Southern France is that they never have cargo boxes on their cars because they won’t be able to park anywhere and will be relagated to the long “truck lane” at all toll booths. We removed ours for the whole year, using it only when arriving and departing.
Riding around Lake Garda was difficult as the mountains force everyone to use the same busy road. I did manage to find a nice route that went into the mountains with relentless 14-17% grades that quickly took you from 80 meters above sea level to 650 meters. Like many things Italian, the ride flirted with being over-the-top in many respects which leaves you wondering at the end if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.