“Experiencing a country through its cities is like judging a book by its cover.” ~yours truly.
Welcome to Gargnano. An unassuming little village on the northern shores of Lake Garda in Italy, away from the touristy towns of Desenzano and Sirmione. Here everyone knows everyone else. Two days is how long it takes for the locals to know me, despite my broken language.
Every second person I walk past is indulging in a gelato (reminding me that this is Italy). I quickly start to love and ease into the slow pace of life, even if for 2 days. I stroll along the small village, now enjoying a chocolate gelato, now getting pampered by the flavors of the local pasta at a cozy restaurant by the lake, now stopping for some local wines. I’m glad I’m not spoilt for choice of food; even in my short stay, I become a regular everywhere I go. In fact, I start to get acquainted with the owners and the chefs, and I discover that the guy who cooks the best pasta I’ve had so far in Italy, is from Pakistan. We chat awhile, and he tells me that Italians are just blessed when it comes to cooking food, that irrespective of what they do in the kitchen, the food always tastes delicious when it’s served. I envy him his intimate access to those pastas…
A favorite pastime of both visitors and locals is sitting by the water and feeding the ducks. I’m fascinated watching them swim and hop ashore in crowds of three, presumably a polygamous setting. It is a tranquil place for bird-watching, I see many of what appear to be pink-headed pigeons.
I can tell the time of day by the color of the lake, and the season by the amount of snow on the mountain peaks. As aperitivo starts (the Italian custom of pre-dinner drinks & snacks), a lot of foreign faces begin to meddle with Gargnano’s isolated existence. The culprit is a tour boat from the southern villages. These ‘tourists’ remind me of Brescia, the city I traveled past to reach this lovely village. It’s just a bus-ride away geographically, but demographically (in lifestyle and in age), probably a few decades.
With the onset of darkness, the visitors start to disappear into the far shores of the lake and I return to what feels like my own little village. Someday, I must return to live more of this simple, slow and beautiful life.