In August, I was lucky enough to be invited to spend a week in an Italian mountain village with a French girlfriend, her family and a family friend. One rainy Monday morning, the five of us squeezed into a little Renault Clio and hurtled off on the autoroute to…Switzerland. It wasn’t the most direct route, but it did make me smile to think that we had breakfast in France, lunch in Switzerland and tea in Italy.
We spent the week perched on the side of a mountain, in a little village called Intragna. We had a nice view of, yes, the mountains, the city of Verbania down below, and a slice of Lake Maggiore.
Intragna (population around 110) is in the Val Grande National Park. Emilie, Clo’s family friend, shares with her siblings the house built here by their Italian father. They use it for holidays, rather than living there full time. The road to Intragna, and further up the mountain, is an exciting series of hairpin corners, and all day we could hear cars tooting as they made their way up and down. Intragna itself has a mairie, a church, a bus stop (I can’t imagine a bus ride around those corners!), two war memorials, a general store, a restaurant and – as all good towns do – a pub. We did a few walks in the NP and were treated to amazing views, a soundtrack of goat bells as they frolicked around village ruins, two mountain house tours, and an apéro with a French couple we met during one of our walks !
We made the descent most days (tooting madly at each corner) to shop, swim and sightsee. Lake Maggiore has many little beaches, and a summer temperature of around 26° – heaven on the 35° days we had most of the week ! We visited Isola Bella and Isola dei Pescatori, stickybeaked around Stresa and drank gelati cocktails in Verbania !
The holiday highlight however, was in a touristy newsagents, where I bought a magnet. The exchange went something like this:
Me (in Italian): Buongiorno !
Italian woman (in English): Two euros fifty, please. Is it a gift?
Me (in French): Non, non, c’est pour moi, merci.
Italian woman (in French): Oh, vous êtes française !
Me (in French and Italian): Oui ! Grazie, arrivederci !
An Australian mistaken for a Frenchie in Italy. I’m so trilingual !