When we finally arrived to Cacciatore hotel in the evening 2 days before the meeting started, we first were offered a room in a different building of the hotel. It had one double bed :-). But matcrazy0 wanted to stay in the main building where breakfast was served on the ground floor (she is a fan of breakfasts :-). So, we finally got a room with two single beds :-(. Warning Americans: European single bed is half of US single bed. Maybe that's why we have more children born in Europe (at least in Eastern).
Warning 1: a guy in the hotel reception (that older one) was very nice (even offered me welcome drink in a bar :-) but he could speak only Italian, quite fluently. So it took some time at the beginning to specify to him what we wanted.
Warning 2: these two wooden beds in our room were very comfortable but a little bit heavy and it's not so easy and first of all a little bit noicy to make one bed from them especially in the middle of a night. Sorry, folks living in a room below.
There is rental (noleggio) of both golf-carts and bicycles located opposite to the entrance to Sigurta gardens. Sweet mother of Giampiero (giampiero6) wanted to hire a golf-cart but he got to know that waiting time to get a golf-cart was approx. two and half an hour.
Well, it was busy midday on sunny Sunday in May, the busiest time for the gardens, I think. Keep in mind that rent a golf-cart costs € 15.00 per hour at weekends and on public holidays (€ 12.00 on other days).
There is a warning sign, on my picture, put in one of ponds of Sigurta Gardens. The warning is written in four languages: Italian, German, English and French but the French part is sunk, thus mostly below the water level and may be read exclusively by fish.
The warning says: Please do not throw bread, food or other objects into the water. Keep in mind that even a small coin may kill a fish when is swallowed down.
There was large contrast between empty, lazy center of Valeggio sul Mincio and busy, crowded at places, Sigurta Gardens at sunny, Sunday midday in May. There are only four very small bars for visitors in the gardens. So, do expect to wait in a line at least 5-10 min. unless you visit the Sigurta gardens on a business or rainy day.
Anyway, my recommendation is to bring own cold drinks to the gardens. Two small bottles of mineral water waited for my wife and me in a room fridge of Caciatore hotel each day.
Both a leaflet on the Sigurta Gardens I got at the entrance and all information signs were written exclusively in the three languages: Italian, English and German. Hmm... I was surprised that the French language was completely skipped. For sure, there are quite many visitors to the gardens from not so far France. Don't they like French language in Valeggio, or noone knew French to translate the signs, or what?
All restaurants, I visited in Valeggio, offered menu in four languages including French. But two bars (Scaligero and Tre Corone) had menu exclusively in Italian ---> pocket vocabulary (in a book or a palmtop) is highly recommended.
Never mind, who you are and where you are from, you will be insisted to sign the flag, on my picture, for crazy VT-er nicknamed matcrazy1. He almost always brings his national white and red flag of Poland to all larger VT-meetings. And he used to ask all participants to sign the flag.
Well, there are other VT-ers who asked folks to sign not only postcards but common-place books or just special notebooks. Well, please do what you are asked for, never refuse.
Probably most of you were many times warned not to eat or drink (while travelling abroad) anything except "safe food" like bottled water, food made by well-known producers and sold in restaurants, groceries and supermarkets etc. etc.
Well, this old, stone sink, on my picture, is put in the Sigurta Gardens and has an old writing AQUA POTABILE which means in Italian, learn it, water for drink. Hmm... I would not trust it, especially that mineral water in bottles was available in a short walk distance.
Whenever you drive a car in Italy watch for some drivers:
- young boys, well, especially in top class Ferrari;
- excuse, old ladies in glasses;
- American drivers who hired a car with manual transmission.
In Sigurta Gardens watch for all golf cart's drivers except the youngest one, on my picture. He drove very carefully although with kiddy passion. By the way, the youngest driver I ever met (caused an accident) was 11 years old boy - real fan of cars.
Warning for non-smoking
In few cheap, local bars/restaurants smoking is allowed and at least Scaligero bar was full of older guys, mostly smoking cigarettes. And smoking outdoors is always allowed.
Warnings for smoking
Smoking is forbidden in almost all local restaurants, bars, all public buildings (the Town Hall) and in Cacciatore hotel. Cigarettes are expensive and cost somewhat 3.00 € per pocket of 20 (in Poland over € 1.00). Cigarettes vending machines (24 hrs) are out of use.
There were no public toilets/restrooms in center of Valeggio sul Mincio or I didn't find any. Well, maybe they were inside the Town Hall (Municiopio). But they were in pubs/bars. Add five toilets put in area of Sigurta Gardens - follow the direction sign (on my picture).
In larger cities, an easy solution to find a place to go when nature calls is to look for the nearest hotel or fast-food restaurants (a rule which you can apply in all the cities all over the world).
Sometimes you may even have to pay when you go to the toilet in the cafe where you are drinking your beer in. But when you need a public toilet bad you don't care what it costs.
My secret toilet tip while travelling is to walk into a nice big hotel, pretend you're staying there and go for the hotel lobby loo/toilet. They're always clean and I've never been bothered.
Most Italian restaurants are closed at least at one day (different) of a week, never on Saturday or Sunday though as these days are the busiest. Sometimes a restaurant is additionally closed in the evening hours at another day. Italians love days off :-), who doesn't?
Keep in mind that restaurants are open twice during the day: in the early afternoon for a lunch (say. 12.00 am - 2.00 pm) and again in the evening for a supper (say, 7.00 pm - 9.30 pm). Many (most?) restaurants have bars which stay open much longer, always with a break though (say, 9.00 am - 3.30 am and again 6.00 pm - 11.30 pm).
Generally, more to the South ---> longer linch break, especially in summer but less days off for its staff.
VOCABULARY ON TIME
Chiuso = closed
Aperto = open
il mattino = the morning
il mezzogiorne = the midday
il pomeriggio = the afternoon
la sera = the evening
Lunedí = Monday
Martedí = Tuesday
Mercoledí = Wednesday
Giovedí = Thursday
Venerdí = Friday
Sabato = Saturday
Domenica = Sunday
Italy, in general, is not especially dog friendly country in cotrast to probably the most dog friendly in Europe, the Netherlands. And I didn't see so many elegant ladies walking elegant dogs on Italian streets as in, say, Paris or Berlin. Do they have fewer dogs or don't walk them?
Dogs are not allowed in quite many hotels, most restaurants, bars and all grocery stories, not to mention the Sigurta gardens in Valeggio sul Mincio. There are no signs - advertisements "dog friendly" hotel, camping etc. or I didn't find them.
But, I saw small dogs in... shopping carts, in shopping malls, trains and buses. Well, in trains, buses and most hotels you must pay for your dog, in hotels approx. € 10.00 and there is no doggy bed for that price :-). I saw a lot of doggy food in all Italian chain supermarkets.
Warning: in some, especially small hotels, entrance door are locked at night and there is noone in a lobby (Itallian receptionists follow healthy lifestyle and love to sleep :-). So, if your crazy dog (or just you) want or must take a night walk... make sure what is "door policy" at your hotel in advance. And check where is the nearest grass.
Excuse, this tip will be transferred to my Italy page.
The strict, tiny old town of Valeggio is closed to traffic. But, even outside this area, the sidewalks along streets are narrow or very narrow.
Additionally they are used not only by pedestrians but as a parking lot for motorcycles and scooters. Some local drivers park a car with two side wheels on a sidewalk, as well, which is a common custom never seen in the USA. So, warning: sometimes pedestrians have not enough place on a sidewalk to pass parked vehicles. Look at matcrazy0 on the picture :-).
Excuse, it's not unique to Valeggio but common in old towns of Italy, or even in most of Europe. This is not America. Do accept it and enjoy :-).
Unfortunatelly, names of streets, were almost unseen while I was driving around Valeggio sul Mincio. They were put on walls of houses close to main intersections but probably long time ago and were never renovated.
It makes almost impossible to read the names of streets unless you stop a car, especially when they are heavy lighted by sun.
I was warned many times to watch for pickpockets before my trips to northern Italy. I can't believe in any pickpocketing in Valeggio sul Mincio. The small town looked very peaceful, most of the time empty. The only indirect sign of any possible thefts in Valeggio were bars fitted to the windows of some offices located on the ground floor.
Well, whenever I go to any larger or touristy city, never mind in which country, I prefer to be more careful and always watch my belongings and I never leave them in a parked car. Just in case, I bring with me copies of my passport, driving licence, car papers etc. I store emergency phone numbers (in memory of my cell phone) for my banks, holders of my credit/debit cards and I buy insurance against unauthorised using of my cards up to 24 hours after theft.