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

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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 082014
 

It’s still the same day as in the last post, only now we’ve driven a few kilometers east, now we are in Novara.

Novara is a nice little city with various interesting sights, but nothing sticks out the way the cupola of San Gaudenzio does. Literally.

Novara is no “metropolitan” city in a modern sense. It does not have highrise glass towers and we can only be thankful for that. Novara’s pride is this unbelievable cupola, 121 metres in height, designed by Alessandro Antonelli and constructed in 1888. When you approach Novara, you see it from afar. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Between the symmetrical view up into the cupola and my Image of the Day I had no problems making my choice. Interestingly enough Flickr’s choice was different. The image to the left made it into Explore, the much better one was ignored. Well, 12,000 views, 126 favorites, who am I to argue 😀

The second church is the Cathedral, il Duomo. It was also designed by Alessandro Antonelli and that’s probably the most interesting thing one can say about it.

The angel is on the main entrance of the Cathedral. For some reason it touches me, and besides, the late afternoon light did its best to augment it further.

You still know the Song of the Day.

Jul 072014
 

After the bad weather in Locarno, the forecast got only worse. The next day was expected to be rainy and cool, but only at the feet on the alps, only along the lakes.

We decided to evade the bad weather and just drive a short way south-west into Piemonte. Our first target was San Nazzaro Sesia, a small village west of Novara, west of Milano. When we were in Piemonte ten years ago, we had intended to visit the monastery but never did.

Unfortunately the cloister was closed for renovation. I could make a few images through the fence, but of course I had not much choice regarding point of view. I spare you the images. They serve their documentary purpose but not more.

The church was not closed. It turned out to be rather small, and for a change it was not a baroque heap of gold, but instead a terracotta-colored piece of restrained gothic, nicely and tastefully painted, breathing silence and a warm light. Beautiful indeed.

We’re back in Italy and back is also the Song of the Day 😀

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.

2812 – Viaggi e Miraggi I

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Jun 292014
 

I’ve been back from Italy for a week, but only now I’ve finished tagging and processing my images. Some of them 🙂

Today’s images are from the first day. We spent around six hours on the highway, driving from Villach via Udine, Venezia, Padova, Verona and Milano to the three great prealpine lakes of Italy, Lago Maggiore, Lago di Como and Lago di Lugano.

We stayed on the western shore of Lago Maggiore, the most western of the three lakes. The shore is already in Piemonte, the northern part reaches into Switzerland’s Canton Ticino.

The “traditional” place to stay would have been Stresa (Hemingway’s choice), but a few kilometers north is Verbania, and that has the big advantage to have a car ferry across the lake. That’s where we took residence.

The church image and the passage way are from the first evening in Verbania. That was the night when Italy won its first soccer game during the World Cup. I still hear the ecstasy of the fans 🙂

The Image of the Day was taken the next day south of Laveno, on the other side of the lake, after our first trip with the ferry. We’ve had rain in the morning and the wet playground was where I began taking images.

The Song of the Day is and will be for the next few days “Viaggi e Miraggi” by Francesco De Gregori. Not only is this a great song, I also like the title, “Voyages and Mirages”. Somehow fitting 😀

Hear the Song on YouTube.