Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Exploring Lake Bracciano

Lake Bracciano is a lake that used to be a volcano crater. I asked Laura if she was worried about the volcano erupting again, but she said that this particular volcano burnt out a long, long time ago. If you drink a glass of tap water in Rome, you're actually having a glass of Lake Bracciano, because it's the water supply for the whole city. This means that motor boats aren't allowed on the lake, and nobody throws any garbage in; Lake Bracciano is the cleanest lake I've seen in my life!

Even though October in Italy is much warmer than in Ontario, it was still too chilly for us to swim - but not for Polvere! Just look at how much fun he's having retrieving his tennis ball! (If you're wondering what his name means, in English his name would be "Dusty".) I was afraid that he might try to retrieve these ducks, but he was very polite to them.

The streets of Bracciano have cobbles instead of pavement, and the narrow windows often have wooden shutters on the outside instead of blinds or curtains on the inside. From most streets in the town you can see the castle where Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes had their wedding. It's more than 500 years old. A man named Paul Bril made a painting of the castle around 1620, when it looked like this.

Before we left the town of Bracciano, Laura asked Luca and me if we'd like some gelato. I thought that perhaps gelato was Italian jello, but Laura led us into a cafe with an ice cream counter. There were all sorts of flavours of ice cream, but much brighter than in Canada; it was as if a whole rainbow had fallen into the ice cream tubs. On top of each tub of ice cream was a bit of fruit, so that you could see what the flavour was. I chose peach gelato, and what a flavour it had! That first spoonful made me feel as if somebody had set off a blizzard of peach fireworks, if there can be such a thing, in my mouth.
I guess I was as wrong about gelato being ice cream as I was about it being jello. Gelato and ice cream aren't the same at all. Laura says that ice cream has twice as much air whipped into it. It isn't just the amount of air; gelatos have less cream sugar, and more fruit. They are intense.
On our way home, we stopped to visit some friends of Laura's. I loved their shaggy little pony, and picked handfuls of sweet clover to feed him. He ate them all, and then blew gently in my ears and tickled them with his soft whiskers. He looked lonesome with all those cows; I wish that I could have found him a pony friend to talk to.

Some of the cows have to stay inside all the time, so as to keep clean and tidy. They go to different agricultural shows and compete for all sorts of prizes. They win, too!.

Beside the pasture was an olive tree. I thought that the olives would be black and oily and salty, but instead they looked like this. I tried one, but had to spit it out again when nobody was looking.

On and off through the drive to Lake Bracciano and back to Rome, we saw these zippy little sports cars zooming along the roads. They growl like cougars as they speed up. Luca told me that they are called Ferraris, and are Italy's most famous car. One of them was parked (across two parking spaces), and you can see Luca beside it. Perhaps he's saving his money to buy one when he's all grown up. I've certainly decided that when I grow up, I am most definitely going to tour Italy by Ferrari. My Ferrari will be pink, though.
Meanwhile, it's time to say ciao to Laura and Mario and Luca and Polvere (and the gelatos), and climb back into my envelope after giving Polvere one last hug. Next stop: the island of Mallorca, off the coast of Spain. Laura said that I'm going to meet a whole flock of ducks there.