Day 14: Lake Maggiore and the tour winds down.

"Windsor doesn't hold a candle to the Borromeans," Brad says, and while what he says may be true, most of us are thinking about this being the final day of our tour.

The sky turned to fire this morning as the sun rose over the mountains, as if the world were about to end.  Brad arranged a private boat for us to tour Isola Bella just as the Borromean palace was opening for the day.  Inside were million-dollar chandeliers, paintings, mosaics, and cave-like rooms that were peculiar reminders of an underwater world somewhere.

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From the garden terraces of the island you could see the entirety of Lake Maggiore.

Though nearing the end of the season, there were still a few blooming flowers in the gardens and the famous white peacocks called each other like operatic alley cats while they strutted around the grounds.  Also, what I first thought were bumblebees turned out to be hummingbirds, dozens of them flying in and out of the last flowers of the year.

Brad took us on a cable car ride and after a couple of zero-g moments we ended up at the tippy-top of Monte Mattarone, where we could see the whole lake below us.  It was quite chilly up here.

We had a group lunch at a restaurant near the top, with antipasto, pasta, dessert, and cheese fondue for a proper alpine meal.  It was here that I took the pictures of everyone on the "group" page of this web site.

The high altitude, food, and wine combined to make everyone quite jolly after lunch, which made the cable car ride down particularly enjoyable, at least for us.  Our cable car companions might not have appreciated our singing as much as we did.

We had the afternoon free, and since the weather was spectacular, most of us spent it outside.  Freyja and I had the task of finding a gift for Brad, but what ended up being the real adventure was finding a bag to put it in.  Eventually, we bought some olive oil (which we sold to Becky) and used its bag for the gift.

It was time to get ready for the last group dinner of the tour

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Last updated 02/29/2004 .  Email me at