It was pouring.  I had “splurged” on my room at Hotel Vega in Malcesine, Lake Garda, and spent the extra 10 euros for a room that looked out on the lake through a full sized window that doubled as a door leading onto the deck.  So I had a pretty clear view of the cloudy, grey skies and steady, persistant rain that even from inside I could tell was cold.

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Which is probably why Marco, the ever-present owner and consummate host of Hotel Vega, looked at me like I was crazy when I skipped happily through the lobby, grabbed an umbrella from the pile by the door, waved goodbye and headed out.

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It was my last of three days in Malcesine and today I had planned on taking the funicolare up Mt. Baldo, hiking around a bit with a picnic lunch and perhaps finding a monastery I had read about, all of which Marco knew.  He probably expected me to be upset that rainy weather would close down the funicolare and keep everyone inside.

What he didn’t know is that I *LOVE* rain.  LOVE.  The sound of it hitting your umbrella, the fresh smell that washes away the city, the diffused light through the clouds that takes credit from the sun, the splash of your shoes in puddles, watching raindrops bounce energetically off the cobblestones, feeling it land on your face, hair, skin – its just invigorating!

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So I set out with a smile brimming over from inside, excited to trapse the now-vacant streets that were so packed with tourists yesterday.  After walking into a few stores I got a hot chocolate (my first in years!) at the cafe across from the hardware store and decided to go look at the lake.  I walked to the far side of Malcesine’s center, passing the entrance to the castle and down to the beach.

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It was really staggeringly beautiful, and all those tourists who were afraid of melting were missing it.

I grabbed my camera and tried to hold it steady in one hand as I kept it dry by holding my umbrella in the other.  This video is the result (you tell me if I succeeded):

The rain slowed down a bit and I wondered if my favorite gelateria, La Dolce Vita, which had been closed when I passed it earlier, would open their doors now.

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The sun hadn’t come out yet and I had a feeling the break in the rain wasn’t going to last too long.  Apparently no one else did, either.  There were only a handful of people braving the slippery stone walks that wound through town.

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My luck was in, though, as the proprietor of La Dolce Vita seemed to have just opened up shop!  I took my Mars Bar / Ricotta / Gorgonzola cone and turned right out of the shop to head back down toward the lake.  The wind had really started picking up and a few raindrops beat onto my face, foretelling the end of our short reprieve.

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As I stood on a small dock eating my gelato and watching the waves, an Australian family came up on the beach next to me.  They had a baby in arms and a young boy around 4 or 5, who you could tell had been bouncing off the walls in the hotel.  He was full of energy, chasing the waves from the beach.

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The little boy suddenly pointed to the rough water next to me and shouted “Look, mum!”.  I looked down and saw a small duckling being tossed about recklessly by the waves!

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The poor little thing!  That’s when I noticed how big the waves were getting as they hit the dock, though.  They’d make a brilliant splash right as they hit, so I snapped a few pictures trying to catch them at their height.  It was quite a trick, with camera in one hand and gelato in the other, but I’m a pro :)

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And that’s when it happened.  Like God saw me there next to the water, beaming in the light rain, and decided to test my good mood.

The biggest wave of all – at least 2 or 3 times the size of any we’d seen so far – crashed into the side of the dock, a splash that would’ve buried Kobe Bryant crashing down on my head.  And my gelato.

What could I do??

I laughed.  I laughed and looked around around at the Australian family, relatively dry with their umbrella and windbreakers, and they started to laugh with me.

And then the rain really started.

Figuring that, as carefree as I felt at that moment, I probably wouldn’t feel so carefree when I made my way to Venice the next day with a headcold, so I tossed my salty gelato in a trash bin and started walking back toward Hotel Vega.

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The rain was worse than it had been and I was wetter than I had been, and I was starting to get really cold.  I was passing by a building whose doors were flung open – a museum? library? – and rushed inside.

And knew where I was.  I had read about it online: The Captain’s Palace.  They hold weddings here.

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On the top of this ceiling fresco is the Lion of the Venetian Republic.  In the 1400′s Malcesine fell under the rule of the Serenissima Republic of Venice and in the 1600′s this building was chosen as the residence for the “Captains of the Lake”.  Before that the building had belonged to the Scaligeri family (who also built the Castle), but the Venetian Republic renovated and expanded it, giving it a total face lift.

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I stayed inside for a while.  It wasn’t exactly toasty but it was warm enough for the moment.  Then, like it always seems to, the rain went from pouring in buckets from the sky to a light drizzle to nothing at all within the space of a few breaths.  I looked outside, doubting how long it would stay dry, and let my “I-grew-up-in-Florida-thunderstorms” intuition tell me that it would be safe (read: dry enough for long enough) to head back to the hotel.

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As I walked out of the Captain’s Palace and looked up at the mountains, something seemed different.

SNOW!  There was SNOW on the previously bare mountains!  You may say, “Yes, Jess, that happens when its under 32 degrees Fahrenheit and it rains”, at which point I would refer you to my previous “grew up in Florida” comment.  It hadn’t even occurred to me that there might be snow, and it was lovely!  The mountains were so lush and green toward the bottom, only to change to a shock of white at the time as if trying to match the clouds.

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I hurried back to my hotel to change into dry clothes and warm up a bit so I could come back outside to appreciate the day before the weather changed again.

And the weather did change.  Into something that had be goggling.  Stay tuned.

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