28 July, 2018: We left the dairy cottage and drove through the mountains past some lovely examples of Bavarian architecture, on our way to return the rental car and spend the last few days of the trip in Milan. We made two stops along the way — one at San Pellegrino (which, spoiler alert, turned out to be the wrong one), and one at a “rainbow lake” that was nowhere near as rainbowed as the amazing Lago di Sorapis from our last hike.
By this point, I should have been used to seeing German-style architecture in the Dolomites, but driving past half-timbered houses with overflowing flower planters still brought me right back to childhood trips to Leavenworth, a Bavarian-style town in Washington (and my primary reference for “Bavaria” until I make it to the real place).
We continued on, and a little while later I spotted a sign that made me squeal aloud.
“SAN PELLEGRINO! We can see the magical sparkling spring!! We have to stop!”
This kicked off an intense debate about whether or not the water from the natural spring was also naturally sparkling when it came out of the ground, or if the carbonation was added later, and then about whether or not naturally-sparkling water exists in the world, period. I don’t think we ever found a conclusive answer to that last question, but after some intensive reading later that day we did establish that San Pellegrino branded water, at least, does not literally bubble out of the ground in some idyllic mountain meadow and go directly into pretty green glass bottles held up to the fount by handsome Italian shepherds, or whatever their marketing materials imply (to be fair, I haven’t actually looked at any of their ads lately, so apologies to their marketing department if this is wildly inaccurate).
In any case, when we reached the turnoff for San Pellegrino we hadn’t completed that research, so I was still excited to see the bubbling spring. Imagine my delight when we pulled into a parking lot overlooking a beautiful meadow and spotted an old-fashioned drinking fountain, featuring a wooden trough and a metal spout. “THERE IT IS!” I squeaked, and we hurried over to taste it. You probably won’t be as surprised as I was to learn that it was not, in fact, sparkling water… and it turned out that this wasn’t even the right San Pellegrino, which is in a different part of Italy entirely. This San Pellegrino has a lake, but no magical spring or bottled water behemoth.
We took a celebratory selfie in front of the sign before we realized it was the wrong location, though, so our early excitement was accurately captured:
After our anti-climactic stop in not-the-right-San-Pellegrino, it was off to the next anticlimax: a visit to the so-called “rainbow lake”, Lago di Carezza.
After being shocked and amazed by the color of Lago di Sorapis the day before, my hopes for the rainbow lake were, understandably, sky-high. I was expecting something like this:
But no. Lago di Carezza is a pleasant lake with a nice name and a huuuuuge parking lot along a popular tour bus route… you do the math.
It. was. packed.
And while it was a pretty lake, the color was a) not remotely similar to a rainbow, and b) nowhere near as spectacular as Lago di Sorapis.
To be fair, though, this lake only required a ten-minute walk along a paved path from the parking lot, not a several-hour hike with terrifying drops. The hardest thing about visiting this lake was finding a place to sit down for a picnic. Eventually we found a couple open tree roots and enjoyed our standard Italian snack of bread and cheese and salami, while watching the most obedient pack of dogs I’ve ever seen pose for a photo:
After our picnic it was time to get moving, to make sure we returned the rental car on time. Onward to Milan!