I ended up at the Agriturismo Cascina Reciago after a rapid decision to change travel plans, a coin toss (literally), and a failed attempt to book an AirBnB. Since we had an extra unplanned week in Italy, we quickly had to make a decision on where to travel after Marseille. After some advice from friends and research, we had it narrowed down to Lake Garda or Bologna. We flipped a coin and Lake Garda won. After failing to secure an AirBnB, we stumbled upon the farmstay option on Booking.com and, intrigued, booked a room at Agriturismo Cascina Reciago for two nights.
We took a very long train from Marseille. Most of the train journey was along the French riviera and the Italian coastline. It was gorgeous and I hope I can visit there someday! We changed trains in Milan, had enough time to get dinner and instantly remembered that we were in Italy, where even train station pizza exceeds anything top-notch anywhere else.
When we arrived in Desenzano del Garda, it was late at night and humid. Once we arrived at our farm stay, an adorable little kitten darted across the sidewalk! The owner told us in his minimal English that there were four "small cats!" The word for "kitten" was something I quickly learned in Italian, "gattino."
We woke up to a gorgeous view of the mountains and Lake Garda and a great homemade breakfast full of produce from the garden. Most members of the family who own the farm don't speak any English, but they were very friendly and welcoming and the grandma even did our laundry for us!
Of course, I loved all the animals: horses, sheep, roosters, chickens, a dog, a cat, and the kittens!
The only downside to Desenzano is that we needed to take a taxi to get to the town because the roads are not pedestrian friendly. We only spent a few hours in the town, but went to a lovely market and spent some time on the lake.
We spent some time just enjoying the gorgeous farm stay and, not wanting to hire a taxi again to get dinner, tried to order from a pizza delivery place. The language barrier was quite high in Desenzano and it took multiple attempts for us and the lady on the phone to understand our order and location. She did eventually arrive, by bike, with our pizzas laughing at her minimal English and our even more minimal Italian!
We only had one day and two nights in Desenzano, but I really hope to return! For a less traditional Italian destination with a laid back pace and incredible scenery, I definitely recommend this farm stay!
I arrived in France the day after the attack in Nice. I’ve written before about why terrorist attacks should not prevent you from travelling (this post was geared toward Turkey though it needs updated after the coup attempt, but it applies to France as well), but I’ve never travelled to a country so soon after one. France was in a declared Three Days of Mourning, with the flags at half mast. We considered not even coming to France at all, but rather just taking the train from Barcelona and not getting off until Italy. We decided to still got to Marseille, but cut our stay short and to skip the one-night stop in Nice that we planned. In Marseille, life was functioning as normal with plenty of people out and on the streets.
My French is essentially non-existent, but Marseille is a place where English is seldom spoken and generally used as a last resort, unlike in Reykjavik or even Barcelona when people realize you’re a native English speaker.
Rather the first question asked (in English) is “Do you speak French?” Non. Je ne parle pas francias. I learned about ten words in French and had to use them all of the time. I was pleased that “le chat” or “the cat” was one of the only words I knew prior to arrival in France and that it actually came in handy when I saw laundry detergent called “le chat!”
The thing I liked most about Marseille was that it did not have the “tourist” feel to it, unlike so many other cities. I heard far more French than English spoken and most places seemed to be frequented by locals as well as the few tourists.
We went to the oldest soap shop in Marseille, Savon de Marseille, where we not only saw a clever timeline about the history of soap and tried some, the girl working spoke excellent English and gave us loads of insider recommendations of what to see in Marseille. One of those recommendations was Les Terraces du Port at sunset. It was a gorgeous view and I think we were the only non-locals there.
One of the highlights was taking a ferry to Isle d’Frioul. On the way, we passed Chateau d’If, the island perhaps most famous for being the setting for The Count of Monte Cristo. The beaches at Frioul were a gorgeous deep blue colour and I could have stayed on the beach for hours!
As always, our stay flew by and soon we were on a train to Italy!
Hi, I’m Crystal! Just like you, I love to travel. You’ll get all the best tips and insights from my experiences as a former ice-skating coach in Iceland and former study abroad student. Of the 24 countries I have visited, a type 1 diabetes diagnosis has been the strangest land yet. Type 1 has not slowed down my travels and you'll learn how to take type 1 with you on the road! You can connect with me further on Instagram @CrystalChilcott, or send me ideas of where I should travel next via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgHappy Travels, Crystal
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