100 metres from the hotel the sky went black and a gusting wind blew up from nowhere. A door opened to our right and a man in a chef’s outfit stuck his head out, looked at the sky, made a gasping noise and hastily withdrew back indoors, slamming the door shut with such force it was as though the four horsemen were fast approaching.
We didn’t need a telegram. We ran.
After 50 metres it started to spit.
After 75 metres, the spits turned into rapid-fire hailstones the size of peas.
From the sanctuary of our room overlooking Lake Garda, we watched as the world outside the window was stripped of colour as if some higher being had clicked the ‘desaturate’ button.
Hailstones launched a vicious assault on the outdoor terrace below our windows and a sadistic wind lifted a chunky wooden table from the patio, dumping it upside down in the lake where it drifted off on an unplanned adventure to pastures new.
The table’s flight brought the receptionist running onto the hotel’s jetty in vain pursuit. She watched impotently as the table sailed off; her shocking, and sodden, pink shirt adding a vibrant splash to the greyout.
It was end of the world scenery… for about twenty minutes.
And then the clouds dissipated, the sun came out and colour once again flowed back into the hills, water and buildings around us.
The fast storm was gone. Job done.