Early breakfast today, then it was off with our tour group for a vaporetto to the bus terminal. Onto a modern bus for a couple hour drive to Varenna, along side Lake Cumo, with a stop for lunch on the way. The highways are busy and modern.
Lunch was a stop at an Autogrill. This was like some of the turnpike rest stops. It was a store, sandwich shop, cafeteria and coffee shop. Of course, much, much better than a rest stop in the states. The cafeteria food was cooked fresh at the counter. There were pastas, meats, cheeses and salads. Excellent! Another hour or so and we were off the highway. The bus driver navigated bicyclists and oncoming traffic on the windy, narrow road. Soon, we arrived at the Royal Victoria Hotel, so named because of an 1839 visit by Queen Victoria under an alias. It is a nice modern hotel. We spent the afternoon strolling through the scenic town and walking along the lake side promenade. From Varenna, you can see the Swiss Alps which are still snow covered in spots. A couple of churches were nearby as well. We relaxed in the hotel garden for a while before dinner.
Dinner was bellissimo!!! I had tried to get reservations for a cooking class by chef Moreno of the Ristorante il Caminettto but Wednesday is their day off. Amanda, our tour guide, inquired about an optional group dinner at Ristorante il Caminettto. Everyone on the tour attended. Vans came to the hotel and took us to the restaurant, narrow roads with hairpin turns… On arrival, there was wine and bread on the table. All courses were family style except for the main dish. First up was cheese, ham and liver pate with toast. Next were marinated vegetables, mushrooms, olives, peppers, artichokes, onions, eggplant. A meat selection of three types of ham followed by two types of salami, proscuito and a beef proscuito. Now the pasta, mushroom risotto and pasta with tomato sauce. Finally, the main. Your choice was veal or the lake fish. Dolora had the veal and I the fish so we could taste both. It was (We were) topped off with tiramisu. During the meal, there was plenty of wine and water. After dinner, limoncello. Fortunately, dinner started about eight and took about four hours or I would never have been able to eat a little of everything. This was a great value at 30€ each including the exciting ride to and from the restaurant. It will be hard to match this meal but I am ready to try. This might be a good time to check out the food album.