We had a free day on our intinerary because our friend in Pescara, Stefano, had advised us to drop Avezzano, which was originally on the agenda for today. Our guidebook mentioned nothing about the place either, so we decided to heed his advice and repeat yesterday's rain-afflicted day. We had intended to move from Scanno to Lago di Scanno and then on to a smaller village called Villalago. The rain ruined that one, and so we decided to try again. And, in truth, we were looking forward to repeating our trip on the coach through the mountains.
We were delighted to see that the previous day's driver was working the morning shift again. I don't know how he pulls it off, but I bet he makes everybody feel that they're the most important person in the world. Such a good guy.
As with the previous day the journey was beautiful. We noticed an old town balancing on a cliff edge and resolved to photograph it later, which we did. (Apologies for the poor quality, but it was taken through the window of a bus travelling at speed!)
As soon as we pulled into Villalago the previous day's activities repeated, the driver waving to everybody he saw and kids and adults alike excitedly waving at him too.
We soon landed in Scanno knowing that we could find food there but, given how difficult it had proven to be in this, the larger of the two towns, we might not in Villalago. As with the previous day, we did a tour of the old town whilst waiting for the restaurant to open. Once food was out the way, we repeated yesterday's long walk to the lake, hoping that the weather would hold up.
The lake was as beautiful as we remembered and we carried on the several-km walk to Villalago, which provided some spectacular scenery, under a burning sun.
Fortunately we arrived safely in the correct location and found a clubhouse beside some tennis courts, at which we availed ourselves of some water and a couple of beers, and happy to take advantage of the free crisps that were served with them. They wouldn't be our only ones of the day.
The town is small - only a shade over 600 people live there - so it didn't take us long to see the main bit of it, which was reached by climbing uphill from the square where we would establish our base.
The local barman was a very friendly chap and gave us some treats along with our drinks order. I think it helped that we had spoken in Italian to an old lady who was sitting outside the cafe and who wanted to engage us in chat - yet another benefit of learning languages, folks, since we were served with free crisps, mini-pizzas and sausage rolls.
The barman brought us a local guidebook and chatted to us for ages (measured as two refills, I think). After confirming with him where the bus would be stopping, Radio and I set off to see our second lake of the day and we bid the town goodbye as it faded into the distance:
Our adventure didn't go according to plan, unfortunately (as shown in the following slideshow). We headed downhill, the sound of rapidly flowing water gushing from either side of the steep path which we were treading, until we came to a dead-end. As frustrating as it was, there was no alternative for us but to head back up that path, rapidly running out of breath, and walk alongside the main road. Frustration revealed itself once we discovered from above that we were previously only metres away from the lake, except for the unwelcome building which obstructed us.
We spotted a pathway marked "water" and so bid goodbye to Villalago en route to the lake:
There were torrents of water either side of the steep path. Radio even found some waterfalls:
Having descended for 20 minutes the punchline was that we'd hit a dead-end. There was a building blocking the rest of the route! Now we'd have to go back up that chronically steep path.
This time we followed the road and noticed that we had previously got so near - the building that blocked our route was a few feet from the lake. Gah!
Finally, we saw the second lake and it dawned on us that even if we had somehow got past the obstructive building we wouldn't have been able to walk around the lake anyway - there was no path!
With the lake seen (from afar) and a little bit of time to kill we returned to the previous bar and ordered some more drinks. Our friend the barman once again loaded us up with free crisps and pizza, such that - for the first time in my life - I grew tired with crisps! I'm happy to be able to say that I quickly befriended a local's dog named Titi and she did the job of disposing of the crisps for me:
Having loaded up on drinks and freebies we said our goodbyes and took the two-minute walk to the bus-stop whereupon a familiar face emerged from the house opposite and came out for a chat. The bus-driver! Unbelievable! We spoke to him for ages, although I confess that my knowledge of cars isn't anywhere near good enough to understand the significance of Bentleys and Rolls Royces. He appears to own a garage in the town, hence our conversation meandering in that ephemeral direction. In fact, not only does he own a garage, but also the local hotel, which was a few seconds' walk away!
That's nice to know, because not only is Villalago itself a fabulous draw that will definitely pull us towards it again, but so are the locals whose company we were lucky enough to spend time, especially that effusively friendly bus-driver. Three cheers for Villalago!