Day 37 – Borghetto, Mantova and Toscalano

We stop today at a magical little village called Borghetto sul Mincio.

Once many grain mills, powered by the river water, operated in the town.

It is a beautiful village with a lot of history. It’s well worth a stay to relax and enjoy the setting.

At the border of Veneto and Lombardy, over time the town has been fought over by many warlords.

We sit at a cafe by the river for a snack. One of our group orders a crepe that looks particularly delicious with its fresh berries.

The cafe offers a variety of grappa.

Sad to leave the beautiful little town, we move on to Mantova where we stop to view the city from a vista point across the river.

The hot sun beats down on the enormous cobblestone piazza in front of the Ducal Palace.

We pop into the Rotunda of San Lorenzo, a Romanesque structure from the 11th century.

The plain interior attracts worshippers and visitors who enjoy the opportunity to get out of the sun.

Art works cover the busses in Mantova.

For lunch we stop at a town called Grazie di Curtatone. It has been voted one of the prettiest towns in Italy.

I tried a rice dish called Riso alla Pilota, named after rice workers who used to shed husks from the rice that grows in this area. Suffused with a light meat sauce and bits of sausage, it is one of the best rice dishes I’ve ever eaten.

Next we travel to Toscalano near Lake Garda to visit a paper mill museum.

Sylvia, the museum director, guides us through the various steps of making paper as was done in the 1500s. First they tore up rags and soaked them for a while.

These metal spikes, powered by a water wheel, were used to pound rags into pulp.

An early Hollander beater sped up the process.

Books were also printed in Toscalano. This book is so small it needs a magnifying glass to see the print. Incredibly, a reader added tiny handwritten text in the margins.

After our museum visit, we eat dinner at a restaurant by the lake with some of the staff from the museum.

Giorgio and his friend admire the water mark on a piece of paper produced in Fabriano.

Tomorrow we head toward Torino.

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