Monday, February 27, 2012

A real life castle - Soave, Italy

On Saturday, the boys wanted to go 'questing' (exploring). Before we left Texas and we were showing the kids pictures and talking about Italy/Europe, Pooks especially was very interested in seeing real castles. So on Saturday we drove to nearby Soave (say So-Ah-Ve). Soave is a walled city with a castle, two churches and three walls protecting it, dating back to the 10th Century. We packed a picnic lunch, punched in ''Soave'' on the Garmin and headed out.

The boys were sure it was going to be a good questing day when we got to go through tunnels!
Entering Soave you could see the castle and the walls in the distance, right from the highway. This got them even more excited. We parked just outside the walls in a free parking lot. Apparently you can drive inside the walls but we didn't know that and we drive a minivan so I think we chose the better option. These pictures were immediately after entering the castle through the gate; once is looking up the length of the wall to the castle, the other is through the gate.
Once inside we went where the kids wanted to go. We had to map and no plan, other than trying to find somewhere to eat our picnic lunch. We tried to really explain why the castle was built, how old it was and what 'enemies' were. Bubba finally said ''it's like in Robin Hood'' which Pooks and Peanut understood and compared to Backyardigan's ''Tale of the Mighty Knights''.  Then they got it. Guess T.V isn't too bad!
 We pointed out old buildings, explained why people lived inside the castle walls. The kids liked looking at the door knockers, inside holes in the stones, and hearing all the church bells. We have a knack for arriving at places just as the clock strikes noon.
 Then it was more walking to find a a perfect place for lunch...

 It truly was beautiful. It was slightly hazy on Saturday and it gave it the perfect mysterious feel. The castle, and the entire town, are surrounded by vineyards. Soave is most known for it's wine, a dry white wine that can also be purchased in the states! We passed through a second gate and found the perfect little park with picnic tables and ate lunch.
While eating lunch, Pooks kept saying he wanted to go up to the castle. Now usually people don't go up to the castle. It's on a hill, the museum inside has very limited hours and did I mention it's on top of the huge hill? But he was persistent so we went back inside the walls after lunch.
Finally we found a stone pathway that went up to the castle. It was a hike! It was about 70 degrees on Saturday, walking up the side of this hill and I was wearing Peanut in our Ergo carrier on my back. Quite the workout!

Bubba and pooks, at the beginning of the pathway. 
B and Sissy had to stay behind because we had the stroller (normally B and I would have each worn a little and taken no stroller but we had our picnic lunch to carry as well). The medieval's didn't exactly think of stroller parking and much to Pooks disappointment there was no elevator to get us there.  (though he asked, about 5 times).  
 The higher we went, the better the view..
 We made it to the top! The castle/museum was closed but it was worth it. The boys loved being able to see everything, they saw a ''really real'' drawbridge and even got to stand on it!

 Then of course we had to trek back down. Naturally Peanut wanted to be carried again so I had extra pressure to not be so clumsy as to fall down a hill, with a kid on my back. We did good though! Made it to the bottom, met back up with B and Sissy and slowly made our way back home.
 The older boys managed to find a well and sissy managed to convince Daddy to let her walk. All in all, a good day.
 If you're in the area, I recommend stopping in Soave. We spent about 2 hours there but didn't go into any shops or winerys. You could easily make an entire afternoon out of a visit!

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