We are back in Gallarate,near Milan. Tonight we have been invited by Francesco's family to have a typical Piedmontese dinner......wild boar, polenta, and assorted cheeses and cured meats. Monday we fly back to the US. Yesterday in Varenna we hiked up a small mountain/ hill behind Varenna to the local castle. The hike was a steep and winding cobbled path leading up from the village to the 11th century castle. The views of the lake were spectacular looking north and south, clearly an advantage if you were in the business of defending this area of Lake Como. The castle walls are crumbling but we could still see the impossibly steep approach to the castle. Inside the curtain wall was a single tower/ keep accessed by a stairway, leading to a drawbridge. If the enemy were to get inside the wall, it would be quite difficult to enter the keep. There were arrow holes everywhere along the curtain walls and up the walls of the keep. We also noticed holes in the tower that were meant to throw things out of....hot oil, rocks, dead animals etc.
Looking down from the keep to the curtain wall.
Looking up to the castle walls.
The casle boasts a raptor recovery, breeding and training program. Imagine an actual falconer who breeds and trains falcons, hawks and even owls. While we were there, the falconer gave us a wonderful demonstration of a training session. He brought out a beautiful falcon and sent her into the sky....then whistled to bring her soaring back for a yummy treat of.... possibly part of a pigeon. She would soar out over the castle walls, high above Lake Como and swoop back, just skimming the air above our heads.
It was a fascinating treat.
This has been an incredible adventure for us. We have learned so much about the history of Italy, its wonderful people and fascinating culture along with some essentials such as riding local buses, taking the trains and not mixing up the words fico and fica. Fico is a delicious fruit and fica is a.....private part...uummmmm! We are very grateful to our Italian friends who guided us in so many ways, corrected our pitiful Italian, gave us free cooking classes, offered advice and in general wrapped their arms around us. Grazie mille,,,,arrivederci all' anno prossimo !