You Can’t Put a Price on Experiences - 9 1/2 Weeks - CycleBlaze

October 23, 2019

You Can’t Put a Price on Experiences

Peschiera del Garda to Quistello

When the alarm went off this morning my first instinct was to crawl further under the covers and stay there for a few more hours. Both of us were getting kind of used to this Italian Lakes existence. But we had a job to do so we threw our legs over the side of the bed, got up, packed the paniers, loaded the bikes and pedalled away.

It took all of about ten minutes for that touring feeling to come back. It certainly helped that it was a glorious morning and we were going slightly down hill on deserted farm roads through vineyards, orchards and freshly plowed fields. After about 6 km of this we hit the Peschiera to Mantova bike route. And what a great route. Flat, just about all of it paved, and winding along canals leading to or from the Po river and eventually along the Po itself. This continued on past Mantova (aka Mantua) all the way to our destination for the day, Quistello.

The observant folks out there will notice in the pics that neither of us have front panniers or racks anymore. We took the opportunity when we were back in Munich to ship another 6 - 8 kg of stuff back home, including the front bags and racks. This, plus the fantastic riding conditions we had today (and probably some rested legs too) resulted in one of our fastest days of riding. We were pulling into Quistello (Quixotic Quistello, Quirky Quistello .. definitely not Quaint Quistello) at round 3 in the afternoon (I had promised K that we would be having shorter days, both km's and time, after the mid-term break - success on day 1!) and things got interesting.

We had booked Villa Camilla, a B&B on the outskirts of town, and rode to what both Pocket Earth and Google said was the address. Automotive machine shop on one side of the road, and farm yard on the other. Hmmmm.

The house up the road is # 4, there is no number on the farmyard and the next establishment a little further down is #11. Villa Camilla is #5 but there's no such number in sight and nothing that looks remotely like the pic's of the place from

Kirsten gets out her phone and manages to connect with the Camilla folks. Fortunately a common language is found ... French ... and we are instructed to ride back up the road about 500 m to the railroad tracks and wait there. A few minutes later a little red car pulls up and indicates to us to follow her. We continue back along a side road away from where we were to an old farmstead tucked away in a grove of trees on the edge of town .. and off any maps we have. This is #5 .. Villa Camilla!

We are then warmly greeted by Loredana. Bikes stashed in  a shed, she leads us into the old farmhouse for a short tour, lounge where we can hang out, kitchen that we can use, solarium where breakfast will be and then up to the second floor where there are 4 - 5 guest rooms. Very eclectic and interesting decor, no locks on any doors (why would you need them here ... and I agree) . We have a two room suite including one room which is 'the bridal suite' where the bathroom is.. pics to follow. Eclectic yes, but also very clean, quiet and most importantly friendly and welcoming.

We got ourselves cleaned up, I got the pic's for this journal uploaded  and some of the notes written when it was time to venture into town to look for a spot for dinner.

Now we picked Quistello precisely for the fact that it was about 80 km in the direction we wanted to go, there was a place we could book to stay, and there were a few restaurant icons on the map. For today, that was enough. This place is not a 'destination' in it's own right, in fact it's a pretty plain town.

When we  started to look at the details of the restaurant options, there were a few run of the mill pizza places and two 'nicer' establishments. Both of these it turns out are recommended in the current Michelin guide, one with 'plate / knife & fork' icon ... our usual go-to Michelin place, the other, and closest to us had a Michelin star. This place also has quite a history to it as well.

The Temani brothers have been running this place for over 40 years and the 2019 Michelin guide describes as thus:

The pomp of the circus and the Renaissance form the surroundings to sumptuous and baroque dishes. Excess is favoured, measurements opposed to: the Temani brothers stage the magnificence of glorious Mantuan cuisine.

We said from the outset of our trip that we would try to eat local, and it doesn't get more local than this. Also, how many times can you arrive unannounced in a one horse town and book a table for one hour from now at a one star restaurant? The math turned out to be one horse plus one hour plus one star equals one hell of an evening that we will not forget!

The 'pomp and circus' from the Michelin folks does not really prepare you for the experience. The place is packed with pictures, books, mirrors, tables heaving with silverware, persian carpets stacked all over the floors. About half the tables are filled with locals in groups of 6 -8, all of whom seem to know, and revere Romano Temani. Romano himself is sitting in a corner of the room, in between the tables festooned with silverware, greeting everyone who comes into the dining room, and, dressed in his Chef's whites, looking not unlike the Pope! This is his Church.

Turns out he saw us wandering past earlier in the evening when we were just heading into town and called out to us, in Italian. When we phoned a while later to book a table, in English, he put two and two together, and greeted us like long lost friends. The rest of the staff did too.

The food was superb. Traditional Mantuan (ie local) executed to a very high standard. No foams, no nitrogen, just food. The service was impeccable. Professional but also familiar. And the room should be enshrined as a museum!

We were completely stuffed after course 4, dessert, and just about falling asleep at the table. That's when one of the two waiters, Luana, comes over with seven, yes seven, plates of additional deserts and casually mentions with a wink that the doors don't close until 6 am! 

We finally waddled out after three hours ... got the obligatory picture with Romano (for us .. he won't be taking our pic and putting it on the wall beside the two real Pope's who ate here). My great plans of finishing this journal after dinner were dashed on the rocks of gluttony. All we could do was collapse into bed and think about how picking a random spot on a map because it was 80 km from where we were could lead to this. Then we laughed and fell asleep.

Song of the day, Keep it Coming by BB King & Heavy D. Romano and the rest of the crew at the Ambasciata just kept it coming ... and these two guys have a bit of resemblance to Romano!

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Just about ready to throw our legs over the bar to start the second half of this grand tour! We had a beautiful warm and sunny morning
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The first 6 Km's out of Andrea's place were along farm roads. Nice hard pack gravel and a couple of tractors. Moderate down hill to where we joined up with the Peschiera to Mantova cycle track
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The rest of the ride to Quistello was along flat cycle tracks either beside canals leading to or from the Po river or alongside the river itself. Very pleasant riding
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We were at just over the halfway point before noon in Mantova. A quite historic city with a real jumble of architectural styles.
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The east side of one of the main squares where we had lunch
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looking north along our 'lunch square'
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Scott AndersonOh, yes - I remember Mantua now, rattling across those stones.
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2 weeks ago
do you think they manage their forestry here?
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Our room in the very eclectic but very friendly and clean Villa Camilla in Quistello
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...There is even a 'kids' loft
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.... I know where K wants to sleep!
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Playing around in the bridal suite!
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The subdued interior of The Ambasciata (The Embassy)
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Prawns with fruit, pesto & mint reduction ... it works!
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Bigoli with a ragu of lamb and a bit of bacon ... may not look like much but it was fantastic!
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Millefoglie with raspberry, carmel and lemon ... uuummm
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... and then seven more plates of goodies to graze on as we worked up the initiative to depart!
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Karin KaarsooSo did you eat all the desserts Lyle?
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2 weeks ago
And here we are with the Pope of Quistello!
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I’m not sure if Romano got his star for his cooking, hospitality or resemblance to Bibendum! Definetly the first two ... and just maybe all three 😎
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Karin KaarsooHe definitely resembles Bibendum!
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2 weeks ago
signing off on another serendipitous day! The best kind!
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Today's ride: 80 km (50 miles)
Total: 2,133 km (1,325 miles)

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