It would be really remiss of me not to wax just a little lyrical about how wonderful it was to return to Hotel La Perla in Tremezzo. The twin sisters Clelia and Mara who run this place with their husbands, Sergio and Luca are justifiably proud of their many awards and accolades from Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence to other commendations.
They work tirelessly and with great humour to make your stay so special and comfortable whilst maintaining really high standards of cleanliness and comfort. The rooms are really well appointed and since our last stay 4 years ago have all been refurbished, another good sign of a hotel run not just for profit but for the benefit of its guests!
We enjoyed a last morning coffee and spectacular view from our balcony (always worth paying a little extra for the view!) before grabbing a quick swim in the pool before breakfast.
The pool was always a great place to cool off at the end of the day with plenty of sun loungers and a plentiful supply of towels!
The Hotel La Perla has the added advantage of being located about 2o mins walk from the lake so that it is also incredibly quiet unlike the many period hotels that adorn the lakeside but have to constantly compete with the hustle and bustle of the traffic!
After enjoying the spectacular view from the terrace over breakfast one last time……
we loaded up the car and settled our bill before having a group photo with the our hosts!
L-R ( Sergio, Clelia, Tim, Mara, Luca)
Whilst Gillian was taking this photo Luca remarked that we’d back in time for the Olympics in 4 years! ( the 2012 London Olympics were taking place when we last stayed there and the Rio Olympics were in full glow this time!).
As we bade farewell to the Lago di Como we joined the autostrada to Milan. I was somewhat slightly troubled by the AdBlue warning light flashing on the dashboard and so we stopped off at a large service area just west of Milan to seek assistance.
With my very limited Italian I managed to converse with the kiosk attendant and get a 5 litre carton of the fuel additive along with a watering can and a large funnel! With the car refuelled and the AdBlue sorted we were back on the road and heading to Parma our next stop. My attention turned to blogging and as I fired up the iPad and we tore along the autostrada words started flowing out of me like extra virgin olive oil from a press!
This was always going to be one of our longest drives of the tour at 350 miles and so we decided to schedule in several stops. As we headed along the E35 towards Parma we crossed the iconic Po river its vast banks flanked by fields of the legendary Arborio rice! It really got me thinking about risotto! However, we decided that our first shop should be a picnic lunch in Parma, arguably one of the must visit food stops in Emilia-Romagna.
In our minds we were already salivating over crumbly and intense parmesan cheese, gossamer thin slices of prosciutto di parma and light and doughy focaccia!
After extracting ourselves from a near miss courtesy of driving the wrong way down a one way street we parked in a multistory just fifteen minutes walk from the old town.
As we strolled down the Via Garibaldi we were struck by the sheer number and choice of delicatessen. We opted for La Verdi. What a a place!
Parmesan wheels stacked up on wooden shelves, a legion of hams of every kind of age hanging to tantalise the purchaser!
We opted for just a standard aged parmesan and a 12 month aged prosciutto di parma. A little further down the Via Garibaldi we came across a bakery whose speciality was foccacia!
Armed with our purchases we crossed the Via Garibaldi and sat by some fountains to have our picnic.
with this stunning panorama as our backdrop
We figured that we had just enough time to take in some of the stunning Parmesan architecture before hitting the road again.
Back on the road we headed to Bologna. However, we made a schoolboy error and hadn’t properly researched our next stop! We spent an hour or so wondering around the central station area in search of the perfect Ragù but found nothing!
Disappointed we pushed on in the direction of Florence by passing the city but remembering our last visit here also 4 years ago as we saw the impressive Duomo towering over the city.
If ever you are minded to drive to the Tuscan coast make sure that you factor in the appalling nature of the road network! The last 2 hours of our journey were tortuous in every sense of the word. Despite great views of the Tuscan vineyards we encountered worse roadworks than on the M1 “smart motorway” back home and 40mph speed restrictions!
Slightly short tempered and with a sense of humour stretched we eventually arrived on the Monte Argentario peninsula just before 7pm. We passed through the little port of Porto Santo Stefano before the road wound it’s way up round the mountain and then down the other side to our hotel the stunning Hotel Torre di Cala Piccola.
After check in we were shown to our room. It had to be the best room in the hotel! Views towards the beach on one side and views towards Isola del Giglio on the other and the perfect place to catch the evening sunsets which were without a doubt a highlight of the 5 days we stayed there!
Feeling slightly grubby from our drive and just wanting to chill we opted for room service; a bottle of the local Sangiovese wine, A tagliatelle with wild boar ragù ( as compensation for missing out in Bologna!) and a Caprese salad! Sitting on the balcony with the sound of the waves lapping against the rocks below it was pretty much the perfect dinner location and the food probably one of the best room service meals we’ve ever had!