Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

Sunshine and Chandeliers


Can I just say that Italy is lovely? And if anyone ever says to you, “Want to visit Lake Garda?”, your appropriate response should be, “When do we leave?”. Do not hesitate, not even to finish the ironing or the next page of your book, but go straight there. The combination of balmy weather, mountains and a crystal-clear lake all set about with chic little towns and pebbly beaches is a winner. We had eleven straight days of sunshine, enough to get a tan, swim in the pool or in the lake seven times a day and not even once contemplate a cardigan.

Our campsite, the appropriately named Campsite Eden, had two pools, a private beach and was in walking distance to Portese, a dinky little port with a great swimming beach, a couple of restaurants and an ice-cream parlour. We were housed not in a tent, since we have not yet reached those levels of self-sufficient derring-do (plus I like to have my own toilet), but in a well-equipped mobile home that measured seven metres by three. Minature, but perfect since we spent most of our time swimming and eating ice-cream and admiring chic Italians and little time pacing the tiny parameters of our accommodation. The big deck helped to make it seem larger, as did the fact that we were situated in an olive grove, with mint growing in the grass and semi-tame bunnies gratefully accepting carrots.

The campsite was mostly filled with Germans, Dutch and British tourists and my hours of pooltime watching my three avid swimmers gave me some time to form completely scientific conclusions about the different nations. The German and Dutch parents got into the pool and actually played with their children, while the British lay on loungers and ignored theirs. I believe the fact that the British parents were the lardiest is not unrelated to this fact. In order to not be tainted, I played with my children, and while GTH was not out climbing mountains on his bike, I went for runs along the lake, but I was not above bribing them for moments alone on my lounger by sending them to the shop with money for ice-cream.

One morning Ollie woke up, sprung into our bed declaring, “Mummy! I had a good dream! I was sailing in a boat – with you!” so we made his dream come true by getting onto a ferry at Salo and taking a trip to Isola del Garda, a private island owned by the Cavazza family where we were taken on a guided tour by a nice German girl from Liepzig. Apparently the Countess is called Charlotte, which my family found most appropriate. The children liked the Cavazza family cats which followed the tour, and I liked the snacks provided at the end. The island and the villa were lovely too.

After eleven days of five people sleeping in the minature mobile, we packed up and drove 1,200 kilometres to the Uckermark in northeast Brandenburg for a wedding at Schloss Herzenfelde. This is another place to which, if ever offered the opportunity to visit, you should unhesitatingly say, “Let’s go!”. Surrounded by 20 hectares of parkland, and then by the forests and farmlands of the Uckermark, the Schloss has been restored by its present owner to high standards of comfort and luxury. The lovely bride, who did the room arrangements, had warned us to bring mattresses and sleeping-bags for the children as there was only one double bed per room, but when we arrived we found ourselves in a suite with three double beds and a chandelier-bedecked bathroom that was bigger than our Italian mobile home. After eleven days of edging sideways round our bed and still getting knocked on the head or ankles by our belongings, it was bliss to have space, sleep on fresh white linen and admire the statuary in the park out of the bathroom window.

The wedding was gorgeous – an appropriately in love couple, a service in a quaint village church, lots of Sekt, babysitters for the children, an exquisite meal, great people to talk to and dancing until the early hours of Sunday morning. After hauling ourselves out of bed and enjoying one last lovely breakfast under the chandeliers, we drove the 700 kilometres home.

It’s good to be back, but I’m missing the olive grove and the chandeliers. And my family are growing tired of calling me Countess.

Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

27 thoughts on “Sunshine and Chandeliers

  1. Wow it sounds idyllic! I’ve never been to Lake Garda and it wasn’t the swimming pool that swung it for me, it was the olive grove and wild mint – I want to go there now! Especially since sunshine, after the weather we’ve been having, is almost as rare a commodity here as in England – a quick trip to Italy sounds just the thing.

    Glad you had such a lovely holiday, Countess Charlotte!

  2. Oh, Charlotte, if you are ever in need of another profession, you could make a mint in writing travel reports. I just loved hearing about all your escapades. I’m in Berlin, sitting in a café in Charlottenburg, missing you.

  3. Sounds like you had a wonderful time! I’ve never been to Italy, but would like to one day.

  4. Love it. Welcome back, Countess! It’s great to have your irrepressible enthusiasm (and thoughtful observations) back. So when are you posting some pics? The whole holiday sounds like a wonderful dream.

  5. Welcome back, Countess! You have been missed. The trip sounds idyllic and I’m so jealous I could cry. Britain is encountering the chilliest and wettest August and September on record — lovely.

  6. Charlotte that all sounds glorious! I was just posting yesterday about wanting to be in Italy right now (I have never been but it is one of my dreams) so I have to say I feel a little jealous!

  7. I hope to one day be on a vacation where my family must call me Countess. Even if just for a weekend. We could all have titles — I’ll let them know for future.

    Welcome back!

  8. Sigh! What an amazing holiday to end off the summer!

  9. I’m glad you had a great trip and looking forward to catching up. Welcome back.

  10. Goodness, I’m sold! Now if only George Clooney happened to be lounging around (different Italian lake, I know…but still).

    Sounds like una vacanza come paradiso!

  11. this post is useless without pictures 😉

  12. Dear Countess,

    So nice to have you back! Sounds wonderful. Just in case anyone is wondering, if an opportunity to travel anywhere is offered my way, I will be sure to jump on it. You’ve been warned:)

  13. How wonderful that all sounds… I wish I were there right now!!!

  14. Stunning, Charlotte – makes me want to be there now!

  15. dreamy, must have been fabulous, hope the memories stay with you for a long time, we missed you, and laughed at the seven metres by three, that’s how we live normally, have fun, tadpole.

  16. Welcome back Charlotte! So glad everything worked out, and especially that you were spoiled in Berlin by the big beds. What a lovely way to end the summer.

  17. Now, only you could manage to make me feel jealous of your holiday while I sit here typing this from one of my favorite spots on the planet (Mt. Desert Island, Maine). Sigh!

  18. I add it to the list of places I really want to go to. Btw, Countess Web sounds less cool for a blog title than Charlotte’s Web. But whatever you prefer, your Ladyship!

  19. You write truly beautifully, Countess Charlotte! And you make me want to visit Italy too, whoohoo!

    I’ve been travelling as well, though more in cyberspace. Just moved my porch over to WordPress, finally … a change is as good as a holiday, eh?

    Glad you enjoyed it so much. Sounds like you had the greatest of holidays!

  20. Bummer, still need to sort out some little challenges, like adding the URL to my profile. Learning, learning, learning!

  21. Countess, so lovely to have you back but where are the pictures!

  22. Charlotte, I stumbled across your blog lately looking for new reads to dig into and instead have been reading your blog ever since. You have a beautifully descriptive style that is so rich and evokes so many fragrant smells and picturesque images.
    I especially love your blog because of its tri-nation slant. I love to travel and speak fluent Deutsch…but live in the London suburbs with a long-distance boyfriend in Munich. Your posts make me so nostalgic, and I long to see the green plains and wheat fields and Schultuete-toting kindergarteners I taught this summer in Otteloh. Thanks for being so very inspiring, both as someone with common interests and to a budding writer like me.
    RE this post…I completely agree about a lot of British parents. It makes me very sad but the breakdown of society and family ties is becoming ever more evident here. Thankfully my parents were more of the European variety and I hope to be too but I know many who would rather laze effortlessly as their skin mutates under the sun rather than splash with their kids.
    Anyway, thanks for the inspiration…I’m a converted lifetime reader of your blog now!

    Lulu, from London

  23. Italy is the first and last place I have been to in Europe, and while I know there are a hundred thousand other places I should go before returning, it haunts my mind and beckons me back. That said, welcome home. Now. Let’s set a deadline. When shall we finish our novels?

  24. ““Want to visit Lake Garda?”” – oh Charlotte, can I just say I’ve been waiting my entire life to hear these words? I’m holding out for George Clooney, but anyone who asks me will get an enthusiastic yes!!

    Sounds superb – I must definitely get the details of your caravan park/campsite as it sounds like what hubby would love. Personally, I would go for the chandeliers and statuary in the park, but there you go 😉

    Welcome back – you have been missed!

  25. Your family adventure in Lake Garda sounds absolutely amazing! I especially like the images of you all sliding past each other in the camper. Countess, you sound relaxed.

  26. Whew. I am glad I clicked over here to see if you were back yet. The Schloss sounds absolutely wonderful. So does the olive and mint and the sun and the lake. How wonderful of you to make your child’s dream come true, and I’m sure you all enjoyed the side trip.

  27. Oh, it’s so good to have you back in the virtual world. xo, L

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