This was the last morning of the Opel GT meet so everyone was going their separate ways after breakfast. Everyone took lots of photos and hugs goodbye were in abundance and then we were left at the hotel with our friend and host Norbert. Peanut finds goodbyes very hard these days and kept disappearing for a cry from time to time, but she always came back with her brave face on and brushed aside her sad thoughts. It was just too sunny, too lovely and too much fun for tears! Anyways, we had decided to have a quiet day with the minimum of driving before our long journey home tomorrow and with this in mind we were going to spend the day at Trauttmansdorff Castle which was in Merano. We had picked up a leaflet about this wonderful castle and garden in the hotel and as it had won the International Garden of the Year award last year we felt we had to see it. It was on Norbert’s way home too, so we convoyed briefly with him as far as the exit for Merano. And then we were on our own and the fantastic fun that we had had in The Dolomites with our Opel GT friends was behind us. It had been a thrilling, exhilarating couple of days enhanced by lovely weather, epic scenery and mind boggling driving. The memories will stick that’s for sure!
The castle was easy enough to find with several car parks to choose from. We parked up and walked down the road through arches of roses in full bloom to the information centre. While we waited to buy our tickets it became obvious that the castle doesn’t take card payments for entrance fees, which was both a surprise and disappointment because of course we did not have enough cash on us. Do we ever? I am still astounded that the winner of the International Garden of the Year doesn’t take cards but we had no choice but to leave and get some cash. So another short trip to Merano town centre for money, but with the advantage this time that we knew where the cash machine was. Pity that it was in a pedestrian area but never mind we were in Italy so we quickly drove in turned round, turned lots of heads with our Opel GT and then came out again.
Back at Trauttmansdorff for the second time and this time we were in. We had a quick look round the Tourism Museum, which actually was very interesting and gave us a better insight into the area as a whole. Italian territory but populated by German speaking residents, the South Tyrol is a very prosperous region. After the museum we decided we would eat before exploring the gardens. We chose salads for our lunch, a simple mixed for P and smoked salmon and asparagus for me. Really very nice and perfect before our walk around the gardens of Trauttmansdorff. We had a rather nice little map to follow and decided that as the gardens were also on a hillside and we were halfway up, we would start at the top and work down. We made our first stop a very imposing viewing platform which boldly protruded out from the side of the hill near the top and which was clearly constructed by a madman. Poor P was a bit nervous of even walking on it as it was a lattice of ironwork and you could see through it, but she braved it out and stood at the end, briefly, then scurried back to the safety of the path. It had a suspension style construction, giving movement to the platform too which was a bit unnerving. We meandered about searching out points if interest on our map and soon ended up by the lake, a centre point to the gardens nestling in the shadow of the castle high above on one side. Importantly, the ice cream shop was by the lake.. It was a lovely day and an ice cream in the sunshine seemed at good way to pass the time. The planting in some of the beds was quite astounding and the roses must have been at their very best. These gardens really were right up there with the best we have seen. Italy is famous for some of its gardens and I thought of some others we had visited on islands in the Italian Lakes and the Bobboli Gardens in Florence. This garden was just how I like mine – tidy, whereas the Bobboli Gardens looked a bit down at heel to me. The faded grandeur look so common to the Stucco houses of Italy had permeated the Bobboli gardens to my mind and had not done some gorgeous gardens any favours. These were immaculate in every detail and for me a joy to explore.
But all things must end and we needed to head back to our hotel for our meal. When we got back, we sat in the hotel garden and had some tea and thought that although we had driven through some beautiful scenery, there was nowhere more beautiful than where we were right now, with mountains, snow, pine clad slopes, meadows of wild flowers, a field of black goats with bells opposite us, a pretty village at the bottom of the valley and even a waterfall. It was simply perfect. And then I walloped Mrs P at the bar football we found in another part of the garden. Great fun!
We had another lovely meal and a spritz before bed, and up in our room we stood on the balcony and admired the stars.
The next morning we packed up promptly and were headed off for home by 10.30. We had been invited to stop at Norbert’s house near Lake Constance for a break which was a good place for our first stop. He and his wife Gudrun very kindly gave us coffee and tea with a lovely cake. I loved the randomness of our lives – I know let’s go to Norbert’s in Germany for lunch on our way home! As we sat in their garden, the sunshine faded and it began to cloud over, a thunderstorm looked to be brewing, so we said our goodbyes, made tracks and set off again across Germany to France.
It struck us as odd that we did not see any indication of where the borders were all the way from Italy through Austria, Germany and France. The only sign we saw was as we neared Austria telling us we needed to pay for a 10 day pass to use the Austrian motorways.
So we headed west into the setting sun thinking about our great adventure, and I realised I was about ready to go home now, with my lovely Mrs P beside me, the love of my life and the navigator of my dreams. Ready to plot and plan some new adventures and grab all the hours of fun we can find together. We were very content on that drive home happy with the knowledge that whatever happens tomorrow, we had today.