Summer 2014: week-end in Arezzo and biking in Slovenia


In 2014, two have been our summer trips: we've spent a couple of days in Arezzo, that I never had visited (shame on me! Shame on me!), while more juicy it's been our stay in Bled, Slovenia, with a one-night stop in Treviso (yes, it is a long trip, from Rome to Bled).
I haven't got much to introduce, so let's go to the point!


The advantage of never having been in a place is that is so worthy is that you immensely enjoy the discovery.
The historical centre of Arezzo is among the best preserved among those I have visited in Italy (probably on par with the little city of Todi), moreover, the urban structure and the cospicuous number of pedonal areas makes it almost impossible for cars to spoil it: eventually, I found the place where the walker can move freely! I hope I haven't got this impression just because we involountarily happened to be there during the big antiquity fair. Who'll go in other periods of the year will better judge.
Arezzo, antiquities fair in Piazza Grande in front of the Logge del Vasari
Arezzo, antiquities fair in Piazza Grande in front of the Logge del Vasari

The architecture, the choice of stones, the streets, all have something of harmonious. I like it, I definitely like it!
A little less I appreciated the offer in terms of art in the interiors, but it is a matter of taste; "that" Renaissance is to me a bit "mute", from the the crucifix of Cimabue in San Domenico to various others. Though I strongly feel the fascination of Piero della Francesca, you don't find him at every corner. Don't hate me, taste is taste!

We stayed at a very special place: Villa La Nussa, just outside the city, with big rooms (indeed, we got a real double-floor apartment) and a nice, ample garden -almost a small park- with a swimming-pool, a view on the Arno and very kind owners. If you come nearby Arezzo, think about it!

Villa La Nussa: the swimming pool in the garden
Villa La Nussa: the swimming pool in the garden. Beware of crocodiles

For dinner, we decided to see some other place, so we selected the restaurant "Vecchia Osteria - la Pergola" in Tavernelle di Anghiari, a few miles from the historical town of Anghiari.
The look was nothing special but the gourmet did not disappoint; they especially know how to deal with the Chianina meat (and it couldn't be otherwise; notice: Chianina is the typical cattle race of the area, where cows and bulls are free to grow in large spaces. It is well known in Italy for its taste).
The meat they served perfectly acquired the aroma of rosemary without losing its own.
After dinner we took a brief night stroll in Anghiari; it must be beautiful, but we were rather tired and a show in the town centre made us quit soon.
Just one last note on the antiquities fair of Arezzo: it's not bad at all; I am not surprised that they come here from all Italy and even from abroad!


Being the second time we traveled in that direction (the first one having been to reach Austria -sorry, that page is in Italian), we didn't want to stop in Padua ("Padova") again, so we opted for Treviso.
I was asking myself: "are there attractions in Treviso?"

Well, though the city of Treviso may lack reasons to attract masses of tourists, I must say that it deserves a visit. In the central area, were the water of the canals flows and the shapes of Venetian-style palaces are a pleasure for the eye, there are reataurants and small shops I'd like to take a better look at; in general, you definitely perceive the care that citizens dedicate to their place in Treviso.
small shop for tea lovers
small shop for tea lovers: I culdn't resist...
a water canal in Treviso, night view
nice night view of a water canal in the centre of Treviso

Slovenia is green and blue... even under the rain

As soon as you approach Slovenia, you realize that Nature rules in this area of the planet.
Oh, well, I asked at first, "why have I never been there before?".
From Gorizia, valleys scarcely inhabited open wide and by traveling further to the north you see tree-covered mountains grow in front of you. Be careful at the border, check how the road "ticket" works, they can give you the one-month (instead of the one-week) ticket.
The northern part of Slovenia looks a lot like Carinthia (a region of Austria), not surprisingly, given that it is nearby. The book guide solemnly states that the local climate derives from the confluence of three difference influences. Well, it seems a nice way to say that it rains, rains, and rains again... but we cannot complain, since the floods that recently hit Lombardy and most of the Alps.
Actually, it only rained for the first days and most of the times not abundantly, then the weather improved till it got sunny. Anyway, since at the arrival at Bled we were tired, we soon abandoned ourselves to the delights of the SPA -yes, this time the hotel was a SPA!
We had three large rooms all for us (I mean: very large rooms... not that I care a lot, but neither I'm insensible...), and the indoor swimming pools were a joy to be, while the rain was battering the top glass floor of the structure, over our heads. I can't show pictures of the pools but believe, it was definitely funny!
Needless to say, I was more interested in the dinner, and I was not disappointed at all!

For the record, Bled is well known for the thermal waters, and since we had a suana free-pass we soon took advantage of it; let me say that priceless is the bath in hot water in the small outdoor pool from where you also enjoy the view of the castle, especially in the night... and to round off the day we took a foot massage (another voucher included in the package). Not my type of attraction, but again, I don't despise it.

Bled and its lake

The lake of Bled is definitely "pictoresque", or should I say "sublime"? Kant would likely say "pictoresque" because it is like if in the place, though magnific, there is something missing for the perfect adjective (sublime), or maybe there is too much, too much human presence for my taste.
If I imagine tha place in winter, or better at the beginning of June, then... but let's put away philosophical questions, let's touch the matter of the place, instead: a placid mirror of water on which shines the reflection of a small island, crowned by a church.
On one extreme of the lake, a castle stands, not small, not big, and also its image is rests on the surface. All around trees and trees, and the town of Bled, that would be a lot better if they hadn't built a multistorey hotel that spoils the view and has nothing in common with the rest of the buildings.

Slovenia, the lake of Bled from an elevated position
the lake of Bled from the Castle by the same name, with two young and strong cyclists

That said, the the panoramic view is splendid, moreover, on the lake there are no motorized means of transport; in some spots it is possible to swim and only row boats cross the waters, mostly rent by tourists.
There are colourful boats or romantically swann-shaped. Obviously, we couldn't miss a swim from the shore to the island and is definitely a must! But we also went there with a boat, to visit the island.
Here come a couple of images about this pleasant trip, one photo tells more than a thousand of my words...:
boat trip on the lake of Bled, Slovenia
boat trip on the lake of Bled, Slovenia

The girl is an odd, smiley tourist, whose name I cannot reckon.

Slovenia, the castle of Bled from the lake
the castle of Bled from the lake

All in all, it was a very positive experience, though at times the prices are absurd (speaking of entrance tickets, as for food I woudn't say so). But you know, we're tourists... the heart of certain kinds of economies.

On the bike

This year, I opted for a different cyclotour formula, the "daisy" tour, with a fixed home location (the hotel/SPA), so that you hame more time to spend in some place on the track if you like it. Maps and indications were not always perfect, consequently our missteps have been numerous, but in spite of the hills -some definitely long-, we made it. We even added a couple of kilometres up-hill by mistake, well... let's say it was for the health!
The first day was around the lake, we went under heavy rain, but it was just 5 miles on a plain, easy track, we didn't worry. It really took a short time. To reward ourselves, under the illusion, without hills to climb, of being superheroes, we tasted the "cake of Bled", a pastry apparently famous all over Slovenia. It vaguely resembles the Italian pastry name "diplomatico", but from another planet: Gourmoland!!! Don't ask me to explain, if you go there just eat it, but careful: a "single" portion can usually feed two people.

The following days the tours took us out of the lake valley; since it is a depression, to get out of it you face... hills! After that, depending on the destination, you take one route or another. The scarcity of bike lanes was a bit disappointing, and, I must say, you often find yourself on roads where cars pass frequently. Not too frequently, but there is a difference between biking on a solitary country road (like those on the Danube valley, to mention one, if you can read Italian, read about the travel to the Black Forest, Germany) and a road where you are forced to look out for vehicles and, even worse, it is not amusing to climb up-hill with the lungs ventilating like bellows while smelling the smog of car and trucks engines.

Of the places we've seen, I particularly appreciated the small town of Radovljica, which hosts the beekeeping museum (go there!) and the lake of Bohinj. For the record, you donìt pronounce the final "j".
The lake of Bohinj is rather cold to swim but for some minutes you can happily do it. It is rather vast, green all around, enameled in an alpine, relaxing landscape. It is loved by sport people. Splendid, in a word.

Slovenia, the centre of Radovljica
Slovenia, the centre of Radovljica; for us, the place for a rich tea break

Anyway, many of the streets around Bled, especially those around the mountains -or should I say the high hills- are gorgeous. The most interesting (and here, you almost never meet cars) is the long dirt track that follows the Radovna river through the National Park, starting from Krnica. Indeed, I have the strong feeling that if we had proceeded further, beyond the planned track, we would have met the best landscapes; a mile away from the turning point, actually, I think I saw a beautiful scree of light-coloured rocks reaching down to the forest. Anyway, this time we had lunch on the grass of the Alps, a pic-nic in the purest air we'be breathed this year.

Slovenia: Radovna, track in the National Park
I didn't take splendid shots, but this one can give you an idea
of the track along the river Radovna, through the National Park

Recently, I wonder about the usefulness of long travel diaries on the Internet... it was fun when, many (now many many) years ago, I was among to first people to own a web site, and to write there about the events of my life, when even blogs were a rarity.
Now time is scarce, and readers are taken to a few, much bigger sites. I prefer to communicate a few, good ideas. The moral is: visit, visit places!... The more I travel around Europe, the more beautiful it looks to me, and Slovenia is a pearl.

hugs for your affectionate Ubi!

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