A New year, a resolution is called for. Nothing too major, nothing I know I [...]
Lakes and MountainsCreated by Jane in Jane Lawson's Blog
شركة To the Italian lakes for a week to try to prolong the fast fading autumn and pretend we are doing the Grand Tour. Our hotel on the shore of Lake Maggiore is the Regina Palace and is an imposing belle époque structure where almost every surface is covered with marble, tessellated in patterns of contrasting or toning hues. The windows are dressed with rich swagged fabrics, tasseled, swagged and pelmetted in gold and blue. Best of all is a basement swimming pool in the form of an extraordinary grotto with sybaritic double loungers round the edge and the floor of the pool having the appearance of a sandy starfish and shell covered beach. The hotel lobby dwarfs its residents who seem strangely attired in their modern dress, and look as if they have mislaid their bustles and starched collars.
http://tastefullyvikkie.com/?kljaksa=%D8%B5%D8%A7%D8%AF%D9%82%D8%A9-%D9%88%D8%B3%D8%B7%D8%A7%D8%A1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AE%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AB%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%8A%D8%A9&210=cb Our group are all of a certain age, the week overlapping term time, but in consequence we are an orderly and well behaved group with interesting lives lived and good stories to tell. There is a tour manager assigned to us for the week. Paula is one of those large, capable very organised English women whom nothing phases. However, she is married to Marco and living in Naples and pretty much enculturated with all things Italian. She is a genius with train timetables, loo finding and stories which range from the best way to sun dry tomatoes in the oven to the marriage complications and alliances of Italian noble families.
http://gl5.org/?prikolno=%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AE%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AB%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D8%AD%D8%AA%D9%8A%D8%A7%D9%84&e77=57 Our first day is a short journey on a small boat to two of the islands in Lake Maggiore. The first is Isola Bella which is almost completely covered by an imposing 17C Villa built by the Borromeo family. Its rooms are magnificent, containing paintings and sculptures of distinction but our Italian guide only gives us a brief moment to absorb the art as he gives his spiel. The ladies are instructed to admire the view from a window while the men are invited to gaze on a Canova Venus lying voluptuously on a marble mattress. As the world over these families spared themselves nothing in their quest for luxury and fine living. Their motto is Humilitas which is inscribed in every room. The gardens are equally splendid. It seems Monty Don featured them in one of his programmes so they must be very distinguished. There are imposing flights of steps, avenues of roses and citrus trees, sculptures adorning every pinnacle and glorious views of the lake and the mainland from every corner.
http://www.bristolassoc.com/?chiko=%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B1%D8%B3%D9%88%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%81%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%83%D8%B3&9f4=8b Then the boat took us to Isola Pescatore, fishermans’ island which is still inhabited by men who fish the lake. We saw no evidence of this although there were many involved in cafe bars and retail stalls. We enjoyed a pizza Margherita at one of the cafes and watched the waters of the lake lap against the stones and the sparrows and two kittens beg for crumbs. Narrow cobbled streets with stone grey, balconied houses on either side and a church in the centre of the island which is open and welcoming make it possible to believe that the way of life is as it was for hundreds of years, until one catches a glimpse of a satellite dish lurking in the slope of a roof.
http://dutchuncles.co.uk/?pinicilin=5-%D8%AF%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%82-%D8%AE%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D8%B4%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AB%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%8A%D8%A9&3d3=78 Our second day was for us to spend as wished. We decided to take the cable car to the top of Montarone 4433 feet above Stresa where we were staying. These swaying airborne cabins are always exciting and as we climbed we watched the steep tree covered mountain slide away deep below us. We broke the journey half way up to visit an enchanting alpine garden which had been created, amongst other reasons, to further botanical research. These tiny plants were perfectly at home in their location in the profound silence of the mountain side. We continued to the summit where we could see all seven of the Italian lakes shimmering below in the spaces between the mountains.
http://www.jensenpartners.com/?klays=%D9%85%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AF%D9%89-%D9%81%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%83%D8%B3-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8&2b1=09 We had asked our guide how long it would take to return by foot and were told about an hour and a half so we set off on the zigzagging descent, looking forward to stretching our legs and breathing the mountain air.
كيف اتداول في الاسهم Five hours later with seriously aching muscles and joints we were still miles from Stresa. We had certainly descended the mountain but the track had become a road which wound through all the villages on the lakeside. Desperation began to set in as, by that time we had covered fifteen miles with many more stretching ahead. We tried thumbing but were ignored and then came the most welcome sight of the day. A bus stop. And a bus arriving in five minutes. Never was I so glad to see public transport. It took us the remaining six kilometres to our hotel and I just managed to reach the comfort of a very hot bath.
انتقل هنا To anyone who has arthritis or trouble with walking I can only say that I felt your pain, albeit for the subsequent three days only. And I do not know how you live with it. A humbling experience. And the misinformation? Our guide had quite reasonably thought that we meant only to walk from the summit to the alpine garden. After all what fool would choose to walk 27 kilometres for fun?
The next day was a travelling marathon to Switzerland. We took a small boat from the shore which travelled north through the border to Locarno. Once again the scenery on either side of the lake was quite beautiful and those of us at the back of the boat enjoyed being baptised by the splashing of the lake as the little boat chugged to its destination. Locarno is clean, expensive and to my mind a little undistinguished. The rich of Europe come to play and spend, but we were not of their company. The journey back was on the Centovalli train which has the biggest panoramic windows possible and designed so that the Alpine landscape of cascading trees in their mustard and dark green colours with small villages nestled in amongst them could be really appreciated. Also appreciated were the skills of the engineers who had conceived and executed such an engineering triumph. We completed the journey on the local train which decanted us safely back at Stresa.
Day four was a trip to Como where the really, seriously rich and famous reside in their lakeside villas. The town is pretty and so is the lake shore, as we arrived we watched two sea planes circling the lake, a thrilling ride at only £650. As I said, you have to be rich here. We also experienced the surreal task of negotiating an Italian Post Office. When it takes twenty minutes to buy a stamp to the USA one can begin to understand why the country is in economic difficulty.
We then made our way to Cadenabbia where stands the Villa Carlotta. This pile was given to Carlotta as a wedding present by her mother, Princess Marianne of Nassau. The poor girl didn’t have long to enjoy it though as she died at twenty three. The grieving husband married again and devoted himself to improving the villa and most particularly, the gardens, which are truly beautiful. Monty Don went there too.
I should at this point mention the four course Italian meals served every evening. Always beginning with a salad and followed by a seemingly infinite variety of soup or pasta and then fish or meat and pudding. A team of waiters who had clearly missed their vocation and should perhaps have been at the opera house in Milan added style and charm and seemed unperturbed by the increasingly dire economic news which unfolded as the week progressed.
Yet another lake on the morrow, this one called Orta, and really the best of all. This is the westernmost lake in the lower Alps and the hills are soft and gentle. The chief town is San Giulio built on a promontory on the lake and has enchanting little cobbled streets, enticing shops with cheeses, salamis and more grappa than one could imagine. In the town square we saw a family group burning old pallets to make a fire and two of the men turning an iron meshed cylinder with poles at each end, over the fire. Inside the mesh were kilos of chestnuts and these were being sold by the children from a wooden table at the front. These were, without a doubt, the best roast chestnuts I’ve ever tasted.
Thus fortified we set off to see the Sacro Monte; this is a hill which rises above the town. It was begun in 1591 and is dedicated to Saint Francis. There are twenty chapels scattered about the hillside filled with frescos and carved tableaux depicting scenes from the life of the saint. The local artists used the villagers as models and the faces of the statues were clearly identifiable in the people of the present day town. One particular scene in chapel six showed Francis sending out his brothers in Christ to preach and teach and they are depicted tending to lepers, the deformed, madmen and women and the destitute. Life in mediaeval Orta is shown in all its vibrant detail.
On the return journey we saw the second biggest statue in the world at 114 feet tall, only the Christ in Rio being bigger; this is a monster of a construction depicting Saint Charles Borromeo, a member of one of the previously mentioned noble families who build big villas. This chap achieved distinction by being the Cardinal Archbishop of Milan, and by being the only man to have refused the papacy, unlike his uncle who was a de Medici pope. He was a man of immense energy and learning, visiting and reforming his diocese and setting up schools and seminaries. Not always popular he survived an assassination attempt and died in his bed at 46.
Our final day was back into Switzerland to go as far to the top of the Matterhorn as the train would take us. The coach journey over the Simplon pass was enlivened by stories of the differences between the Swiss and the Italians. The Swiss farmers are very heavily subsidised (lots of secret money in their banks) and their cattle are transported to and from the summer pastures by helicopter. Everything is fearfully expensive, but not to the Swiss whose average salary is three times that of the English and four times that of Italians. No wonder the towns are so clean, although they are forbidden to take a bath between the hours of darkness in case the neighbours are disturbed.
On then to Zermatt a town of chalets and shops dedicated to skiing, snow sports and shopping, and then the train journey to Gornergratt. The snow covered mountains are heart stoppingly beautiful and the snow at the side of the track was marked by the prints of mountain hares and marmosets. There is a rather ugly building at Gornergratt but once you turn your back to that and gaze on the Matterhorn in the thin bright mountain air it seems as if you are alone in a vast snowy wilderness apart from the circling crows ever alert to the presence of food carrying tourists to steal a crumb from.
And so to the day we return to England. A swim in the pool in the morning, a stroll in the town followed by an insalata in the town square, and a purchase of an apron for our grandson which declared that ‘Rupert aiute la mamma’ – Rupert is helping Mummy, brought our lovely week to a close.