Sunday, June 26, 2011

Lake Maggiore

We went to the Lake District for the day. This is a highly recommended area but for those of us who live in BC and regularly visit places like Shuswap, the lake is beautiful but not unusually so. However, it was a nice day filled with comparisons and longings for Shuswap.

Stresa is a little town on the shore of Lake Maggiore where the rich and famous like to stay. We felt a bit sorry for them as it didn’t really have anything on Totem Resort at the Shuswap. Ernest Hemingway stayed here twice: once after being injured in the First World War and once again in 1948, staying in the same room. That room is now called the Hemingway Suite and runs for a couple thousand dollars a night. Winston Churchill also stayed here on his honeymoon. Nice hotel, nice view, crazy price.

There are a few little islands dotted on the lake where a very wealthy family built their palaces. They started with one on “Isola Madre” (Mom’s Island) and built a very dark, forbidding looking place in the 1500’s. Mom must have been a real gem. The whole island was landscaped into gardens and the walk around was beautiful. They have plants from all over the world including a few Cedars. They are tall and majestic, as big as the columns in the churches over here. They also stocked white peacocks and other interesting fowl. Again, a nod to Mom?

Their palace on Isola Bella (named for the wife, Isabella) is much lighter, airier and more livable. I’m pretty sure the new wife took one look at Dracula’s castle on the other island and insisted on a new living space. Either that or her family did. However, the basement is done in “grotto” fashion and looks like some sort of torture chamber. It just goes on and on and on so they must have used it. I think it was meant to be a cool place to hang out in the heat of summer but these guys had a weird sense of “charming” if you ask me. Obviously, whoever built Mom’s place was still alive and kicking and had input on the new digs. Or maybe it was the in-law suite… The whole island is also landscaped with exotic plants and animals.

The family still visits this home every year for a few weeks and since the flag was flying up top, we assumed they were home. This gave us pause. What would it be like to come home to have tourists crawling in and over your downstairs rooms? You couldn’t use your gardens because they’d be all around there as well. Does the family just sit upstairs quietly gazing out at the lake? Granted, the views from both palaces make these amongst the nicest in Italy. Every door and window looks out onto the lake. The soft breeze blowing through is pleasant and comfortable. Surrounded by elegance, you can see how lovely it would be…when alone.

We walked along several waterfront promenades and hobnobbed with the elite and elite-wannabe’s in Stresa for almost the day before heading back to reality.

1 comments: said...

You both look snazzy in your new duds...Happy Birthday Julia...sounds like it was a FUN day....Love Grandma Mac