Jul 122014
 

Yesterday I said I’d close the chapter of my trip to the shores of the northern Italian lakes, but in the meantime I’ve processed this image. It was also taken on the closing day and it shows stairs leading down to the water of Lago Maggiore. So if you wonder what’s that lake that you can’t see in this image, Lago Maggiore is it 😀

Twelve was such a nice, round number, I really had to choose another song. Here’s “Post Scriptum” by Cristina Branco. Differently southern but southern as well. Hear it on YouTube.

2823 – Viaggi e Miraggi XII

 Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm 3.5-5.6 ASPH  Comments Off on 2823 – Viaggi e Miraggi XII
Jul 112014
 

Let me close this chapter with a final look on Lago Maggiore. Unfortunately I can only try to show you the views. The olfactory sensation of smelling an enormous hedge of Jasmine in full blossom is something you have to experience yourself 🙂

For a dozen posts “Viaggi e Miraggi” was our Song of the Day. This is the last time.

Jul 062014
 

Always the same song? Doesn’t it get boring? Right, thought so 🙂

We’re in Switzerland now. The northern third of Lago Maggiore is in Switzerland, and the main city at the lake is Locarno.

Locarno is neither a very interesting nor a very beautiful city. Not that it’s ugly, but somehow it lacks something special.

But, wait a minute, there is something. The city itself is small with an old but unspectacular Visconti castle, some mediocre churches, but where the mountains rise, their sides are covered with luxurious residences. Everyone of these thousands of houses has an incredible look on the lake, because none of them has anything in front.

There is a pilgrim church high on the mountain. It was drizzling, thus I did not go in, but on the image to the left you see what it looks like. Once it stood along at that height, today this is the only view that mercifully hides the apartment buildings around it.

The Song of the Day is “Give It To Me Straight” by The Locarnos. Hear it on YouTube.

Jul 052014
 

It’s hard to choose. I like both images of today. The cloister is in a former monastery in Voltorre near Varese. It almost has been rebuilt, only on one side the original structure seems to be more or less intact, the other sides have been reconstructed in concrete, with fragments of original pillars embedded. Obviously the cloister has been in very bad shape.

We couldn’t visit the small church, because it was closed for reconstruction and through a gap we could see how it was full of tools and scaffolding.

It would have been easy to be disappointed with what’s left of the former monastery. The ruins of church and monastery had been integrated into a small village, almost dissolved among humble rural architecture. At the same time this is also interesting. It’s no Disneyland and no Neu Schwanstein, it is a piece of history that was saved just before it could vanish entirely.

The second image is a look through a window on the ferry across the lake. I don’t know why, I like it. It’s also a good match for our Song of the Day (week?).

Jul 042014
 

Our day at Isola Bella was exceptionally beautiful and I made more images than I’d care to trow into a single post.

Let me wrap it up with a selection of a few leftovers that I wouldn’t like to omit.

We begin with some pavement in front of the main entrance to the palace on Isola Bella. It is made of small black and white pebbles, polished smooth by the tread of countless feet. It’s a beautiful visual indication of age.

When we got back to Stresa (the place with Hemingway’s hotel, remember?), we decided to buy some souvenirs, and while we went through the less luxurious parts of town, I saw a garage and a pillar with a colorful, blue pattern of stripes, lit by gorgeous afternoon light.

And then there is an image that I took on the ferry to or from the island. Just a triangle of metal, painted blue, and then the water of the lake. If the image looks posterized on your monitor, start worrying, because it’s your monitor, not the image. It looked good at home and now on my laptop it looks horrible indeed 🙂

None of these images became Image of the Day. The one that did somehow was my favorite. It’s a fancy piece of fence at the pier where the ferry departs to the island. In my mind it is tied to a relaxed sense of expectation, to the certainty of beautiful things ahead. You see, my choice is personal 🙂

You know the Song of the Day.

Jul 032014
 

Some places are beyond real. Isola Bella is one of them. This is one of the three Borromean Islands between Verbania and Stresa.

Basically the island is not much more than a palace and a garden, but what a palace this is, and the extravagance of the garden puts it high on the list of attractions you must have seen.

We were lucky. Weather was fair, the sky was blue and only graced by a few scattered clouds.

The Image of the Day is one of the few that I made inside the palace, immediately before I was told that photography is forbidden. Well, sometimes it helps to ask whether a photo permit is available for some extra money, but in this case it was not. It’s a little petty-minded given the steep price they asked at the entrance, but then, it’s private property, unfortunately they can do as they want.

Well, the inside was not overly interesting anyway. Lots of people and most parts of the rooms not accessible, the furniture mindlessly arranged in a way that makes no sense at all, much of it covered under cheap looking plastic foil. I mean, yes, it’s probably effective to prevent children from climbing into 400 year old beds, but even if the purpose is preservation, I have the feeling they could have done it in a more tasteful way.

Anyway, the most interesting part of the island is the park. There you have exotic plants, lemon trees with lemons bigger than you ever thought a lemon could be, fountains, white peacocks, rich sculptures in a lavish paradise garden, and everywhere you see the word from the Borromeo family’s coat of arms: Humilitas. Go figure 🙂

By the way, the last image shows the Grand Hotel Des Iles Borromees. This is where Hemingway stayed and, well, we didn’t 😀

The Song of the Day is “Viaggi e Miraggi” by Francesco De Gregori.

2813 – Viaggi e Miraggi II

 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm f/4.0-5.6  Comments Off on 2813 – Viaggi e Miraggi II
Jun 302014
 

The former monastery of Santa Caterina del Sasso is one of the most famous sights of Lago Maggiore. It has been built into a steep cliff face and the normal way to approach it was by boat. Today there is a lift down from the top of the cliff and that’s also the way we came.

The church is interesting, because due to the constraints of space it has a completely irregular floor plan. It was pretty dark inside, but that’s where the OM-D E-M1 shines like no other camera that I’ve had before. The Image of the Day was taken at half a second, handheld, at ISO 200.

The Song of the Day stays “Viaggi e Miraggi” by Francesco De Gregori. Hear it on YouTube.