The devils island

Superstition has it that the Devil inhabits the coves of Isola de Garda the gothic palazzo island of the Count of Cavazza. Personally I would have thought ‘Il diabolo’ stays as far away from water as possible, the sizzling wouldn’t do his karma much good.

We decided to take a boat out and visit this private island, the only way would be to moor offshore and swim in avoiding the chains blocking the coves and the dragons populating the dense foliage. I was reminded of Bond and Honey Rider unravelling the mystery of the dragon on Crab Key in Dr. No – “My honey and me go bula lu lu” and maybe some of that too…

Ursula Andress and Sean Connery hit it off on Crab Key.

We motored out late afternoon, a gentle wind on the water. It was hazardous going navigating around the buoys dotted around the island where countless boats have been sunk by the sharp hidden rocks. The island, once home to Francis of Assisi, is a low slung 500m. long rock shrouded in dense shrubbery with the castellations of the Count’s magnificent palazzo peeking out from the trees.

Isola del Garda – photo © Garda Boat Tours

I motored the boat in to within 50m. of the shore and Ellie threw the anchor down, the water so clear you could see the bottom 10m. below the hull. At any moment I expected to hear the report of a shotgun inciting me to stay away from the island or the hiss of the devil disguised as a fanatic ghillie guarding the shoreline.

Devil’s Island short swim

I swam under the chain in to the shallow cove and paddled gently listening for the sounds of a fire breathing dragon. There was some noise, however not what I expected. Through the undergrowth I could see a stone columned pergola wrapped in bright buganvilla. I could just make out the vague silhouettes of a slim girl and a tanned man wearing a linen blazer sitting at a marble topped table. Laughter. The pop of a prosecco cork temporarily scared me in to dipping my head under the water.

I climbed carefully out of the water on to a rotting wooden pontoon and retrieved my tuxedo from behind a holm oak shrub. Sadly the jacket was too tight. I blame my wife for all the pasta we’ve been guzzling. I made a hasty retreat.

Swimming back to the boat Ellie shouted to me across the water – “No dragons Mr. Bond? I think we should finish the day James Bond style don’t you?”