Lake Lark

Trip Start Feb 15, 2006
Trip End Feb 14, 2007

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Flag of Italy  ,
Saturday, August 19, 2006

We had booked a quad room at a hotel near the Termimi station in Rome. The boys had spent one night their so we were a little apprehensive when we explained to the owner that mum and dad had turned up. Ah said Pappa Gemano with a glint in his eye, good for them that Papa with the money has arrived, but I think they were quite happy when you were not here. Now what had been going on? Anyway Robert came down to show us to our room and there was David wearing a toga he had made for himself out of two hotel towels and a key ring, complaining immediately how hot it was and that he did not want to sleep in the bunk under Robert - couldn't we use it and he could stay in the double bed? Time for a bit of parental assertion. We reclaimed the double bed and told David to stop moaning. It worked and the family holiday part of the trip began without too much of a hiccup; although I must say the bunk bed arrangement looked decidedly dodgy and we were pleased that David survived the two nights without being decapitated.

Rome was fun, we split to do different sights because Gill and I had been their recently whilst it was all new for the boys. We trained and bussed it back to Caprarola and there was our camper safe and sound and there were Henry, Hester, Mark and James with their monster camper. Henry could help us out this time with Pepino and Otavio and families with his very adequate Itallian and we discovered that when Henry had arrived in the town his brakes were actually on fire.

Next stop, Lake Trasimeno. It turned out that we were camping in the exact spot that Hanibal had defeated the Romans and that there were at least 50,000 dead soldiers in the lake. Perhaps that is why the lake is green with so much healthy and prickly pond weed lying just below the surface.

Henry and Hester were going to have camped with us but they had moved up market. they had bought a caravan on the site and were living in the Italian sector whilst our bit was decidedly Dutch. How the Dutch like their caravans! Quite a good move on Henry's part because for two years running he had trailed his Hobie Cat all the way from England and this time he had also brought two Lasers as well - not without mishap of course with the trailer snapping on the motorway near Milan! With a permanent caravan, he could now leave the boats on the campsite and even contemplate flying.

We had some good sailing and windsurfing, despite the pond weed and the odd water snake and of course our livers had no time to recover - there is some good wine in Italy. Our guide book says that as a country, not only does Italy make the most wine in the world but it is also the largest consumer. We helped them along with this statistic.

We had seen that the Sienna Palio was on while we were here so we went to see what all the fuss was about on 16th August. It was incredible. There must have been a quarter of a million crammed into the main square (Il Campo) for up to four hours before the start of the 90 second horse race - three laps, bareback at breakneck speed where anything goes. The only rule seems to be that one jockey cannot interfere with the rains of another horse, but he is allowed to whip other jockeys, other horses, upend other jockeys etc etc. It doesn't matter if the winning horse has lost his jockey - he is still the winner. It is the horses that matter, they are the ones blessed in the cathedral before the race, for example. People and horses die in this event, although on this occasion, I understand all the horses survived although I am not so sure about my jockey who was slammed into a wall.

Robert and David didn't want to stand with us in the middle of the square and decided to go and watch it in a bar. They had a completely different experience to Gill and I - for example they could see much more of the race - but they could still feel how passionate the locals were about the event, making sure they didn't show their colours that they had chosen earlier in the day. Gill and I stuck it out in the middle - not that we had much choice, with the gates in and out of the centre being closed at least two hours before the race.

On the next day it was David's 21st. He had a good day and we went out in a group of 16 in the evening to a restaurant of his choice before returning to the campsite - thanks Henry for driving us all in your camper! We were pleased to hear the boys return to the tent at 4am.

Saying good bye to Henry and Hester after yet another successful joint family holiday we made our way to Pisa to begin the final stage of the European trip.
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