Our encounters with the creatures of Lombardy began the moment we stepped off of the plane in Milan. As we descended onto the tarmac and alighted the bus we were greeted by a thin cloud of mosquitos. The air assault consisted of two phases; the first took advantage of us unsuspecting prey whilst we were handicapped by the one handed swat defence (the other hand was needed to cling to the rail of the jolting bus). The next assault began at the bus stop immediately outside the terminal. Whilst waiting for the transfer service we were raided again and again. Fortunately our counter attack came in the guise of two prepared and kindly travellers who had Autan spray immediately to hand. Under the protection of the spray we thought we were safe, until 'P' announced that she had been bitten a number of times through her jeans!
Upon arrival at the villa the following day we were welcomed by a lounge of lizards. Generally skittish and shy, they still like to keep us company as we read on the terrace, in the shade of the trees. Occasionally basking in the sun on the villa wall, pausing on the patio to observe before making a dash or sometimes joining us in the house. Apparently nowhere is out of bounds, including the bathroom. I have a particular fondness for lizards going back to my childhood holidays in Malta, however, I am not overly keen on spotting the little fellas on the wall next to me just as I park my bare derrière!
Whilst the lizards were expected, the huge centipedes were not, as 'A' will testify after he woke up in the early hours to find a 2" specimen on his head! In a similar fashion 'J' removed what he believed to be a wad of lint that was tickling his thigh inside his shorts. He was somewhat shocked to discover he was holding some giant mosquito type biting fiend that had already attacked five or six times and summarily 'evicted' the beast.
How blissfully ignorant I was as I swam in Lake Como on our second day. Clear water, sunshine, big fish, little fish. Heat up, dip, cool down - lovely. The following day in Bellagio we took a moment to sit in the shade by the waters edge and take in the view. What did I spot with it's head out of the water but a snake! OK - so maybe it was only 2' at the most but a snake is a snake, let alone a snake in the lake!
Back at the villa that afternoon I sat and read as the large black ants occasionally dashed across my feet (by now these harmless fellows seemed the least of our worries). There was a louder than usual rustle in the leaves at the bottom of the tree. I looked up to discover a one eared glis glis staring at me with cute round eyes. He paid us a relatively long visit, rummaging around the garden for twenty minutes or so. Eventually he scuttled along the grassy path onto the pile of dead leaves and on into the woods.
The glis glis may have rustled his way in and out of or company but other sounds have been with us from the outset. We are surrounded by hills and woodland, as we open the door in the morning we welcome the rising sun, the buzzing of the insects and chirping birdsong. On the evening of day five, however, we were invaded by an as yet unseen loud 'mouthed' bird that doesn't so much sing but squawk and screech in an insult to the ears kind of way! At 5am the following morning it began again, outside the bedroom window - I think in competition with the braying donkey that decided to make an early morning call. We haven't seen it yet but the bellowing beast likes to echo his call down the hillside. Not to be outdone by the cacophony, the guard dog down the hill joined in with a verse or two of barking before a chorus of full blown howling. Oh and did I mention the bells?