It’s never easy to say good bye to Laura and the rest of the extended Pimpinella family, but one morning the time has come to move on, so we fill all our water containers with the precious Piminella water, bid our farewell and steer Emma to duck under the silken flags to leave this little patch of heaven on earth.

We are heading towards the southern edge of Lago di Garda where we plan to drop in on a Tango festival. But we have one night to spare in between, so we decide to stop near Mantova. Our camperstop book tells us of a place near the city centre, so we go and explore that. It turns out to be quite expensive for a whole night, so we just pay for one hour – long enough to use their shower facilities and check the internet to find the exact location for the dance the next evening, as well as catch up with my daughter Lilli on skype who is in the middle of preparing applications for various exciting projects and funding opportunities. We also catch a glimpse of the town centre’s skyline and decide to go and visit it the following day. Then we tootle off to a car park a few kilometres away, outside a summer swimming pool, where we are alone with the drumming of rain on our roof and the rustling of leaves in the poplars around us.

The danger with these ‘peaceful’ car parks is that at night they might turn out to be quite busy, especially if they are on the outskirts of a city…

Sure enough, plenty of cars come and go, groups of young people with loud music booming out of their speakers. But all seems to be quite harmless and as we are very tired, it doesn’t really affect our night.

The next morning, the rain has lifted and the landscape looks all freshly washed, with luscious green fields and snow-capped mountains gleaming in the distance. The poplars are dispersing their seeds by the handful and the path is covered with a thick padding of ‘poplar snow’.


I am amazed that my body doesn’t react at all – normally poplar seeds make my eyes water and my throat itch, but here I am right in it, even doing Yoga right by it is ok, taking deep breaths of the seed infused air! My nose hasn’t been as clear in years! I blame the Yoga…





After breakfast and a violin practise, we head into the city, parking Emma by the Palazzo and cycling into the centre. We take our instruments and try out busking together for the first time!

Mantova has a picturesque city centre, and as it’s a beautiful spring weekend morning, the roads are full of tourists. However, our playing doesn’t bring in much money. My general experience is that busking doesn’t go too well in a touristic place, it’s better to find a spot where a lot of locals pass, like a farmers market. But we still have a nice time playing and it’s good to be out on the street. After our busking stint, we go shopping on a farmer’s market and then back to Emma to feast on the local produce we acquired.

From Mantova, we cut across the countryside winding our way through little lanes until we reach Peschiera del Garda.

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