Sirmione

It was just a little stressful getting into Sirimone. It reminded me of trying to get into some of the walled cities we visited in Croatia. There was a lot of traffic and parking was far away and we didn’t know where to go. But once settled into our room at Hotel Sirimone, we were able to relax and head out for a tour of the city. It was touristy! Lots of little shops and more per capita gelato shops than anywhere I have ever seen. We hunted for a while for a restaurant, and finally decided on a place that was totally packed–always a good sign. We weren’t super hungry so we walked around while waiting for our table. Guess what? The pasta was delicious!

Lake Garda

We left Verona and had a short drive to our next hotel near the start line for our race. We decided to take a leisurely drive up the east coast of the lake since we would be coming back the west lake on our way back to the airport. It was very windy and it was very chilly. It made for some dramatic vistas.

Soon our friends Xavi and Helena arrived! We met Xavi at a Skyrace in the Dolomites and kept in touch. He and Helena love Italy so when we invited them to the race at Lake Garda they said yes right away! What a wonderful visit we had with them! Helena and I did the short race and stopped to take plenty of pictures. Xavi and John did the long race and it was pretty grueling.

The next day the sun was gorgeous and we hated to say goodbye! But we had to. And John and I drove back down the west coast of the lake, both agreeing we could spend a lot of time here.

Verona

Our friend Larry Hughes who used to own an Italian restaurant in Phoenix told us that his favorite place in Italy is Verona. We considered that to be a very high recommendation! We chose Hotel Accademia for lodging since it was in the center but also offered parking. We found the service to be good and the hotel itself to be somewhat traditional. Breakfast was a touch on the light side. We got a lot of street noise since we were on a pedestrian thoroughfare and could hear revelers coming home at all hours. Still it was fun to be right in the historical center of the town.

We did reserve dinner in Verona, because John really wanted to go Casa Perbellini. What an interesting experience. The table next to us was occupied by two parents and two kids playing on their iPads. We found prices steep for two, much less three!

The next day we had a nice wander around old town, including a hike up to the castle, before we hit the road for Lake Garda.

Milan

Our trip to Italy had a singular purpose: To run the sky race on Lake Garda with our friends Xavi and Helena, who live in Barcelona. John and I found it was easiest to fly into Milan, and since we had never been there, we figured two nights was a good amount of time to stay. We booked the Senato Hotel Milano, and they were very friendly. The bed was big and comfortable and the breakfast was good. We had a rainy day of touring and a clear morning before we took off for Verona.

Skyrace

After a simply luxurious brunch at the hotel, we hit the road for our 3 hour drive to Canazei, where John was about to bravely run the Dolomites Skyrace. As we were driving up and down the numbered switchbacks, I just couldn’t help thinking how glad I was that I was too lazy to train for the race so that I didn’t have to do it! I have never seen such hills as these! I didn’t even like driving them much less running them!

But the views were stellar. We rolled into town, picked up John’s packet, and then grabbed some delicious pasta. Our stay at La Cacciatore was worth it just for the unbelievable dinner. We spent most of the afternoon resting, then headed into town for the “race orientation,” which did not do much to ease John’s anxiety!

Then next morning we got up early–too early for breakfast–but they arranged a snack and some coffee. Based on our dinner the night before, I sure wish we would have been able to eat the proper breakfast that came with the room. But no matter. We were headed out and saw someone who looked like he was going to race too. We asked if he wanted a ride and he said sure. Xavi is from Spain and we had a nice chat while heading to the start of the race. He and John talked strategy. It was nice to commiserate!

Watching the line-up was interesting. Everyone was SO FIT. We were looking forward to seeing Kilian Jornet and his girlfriendĀ Emelie Forsberg. There they were! Lined up right in front. The air was electric with excitement, and we could hear the helicopter overhead. Finally the gun sounded and the racers were off. My strategy was to follow the race course as far as I felt like it. I could not even run a step it was so steep. But the hiking was beautiful. I hoofed up 3 miles before I turned around and ran back down. I got a good view of the course peak and man was I glad I didn’t have to go up there!

Waiting for the finishers was worrisome. I have waited for John at the end of lots of races, but this one was not like any other race. I was so afraid he was going to fall and break his head. I waited for an hour at the finish, and I saw people trip, fall, cramp, and cry like babies. Finally John came across the line! I was so relieved! He was okay! Tired, cramping, and a little delirious. But okay! We headed back to the hotel, found some juice, and rested. Then had one more delicious meal at the hotel before sleep.