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Monday, September 19, 2011

Memories: A Graceful Evening


Marco, at the wheel of the Riva Ariston he rebuilt.

This is a story about a beautiful boat, an enchanting evening, and some lovely friends. And since we got to know Fabri in the last post, this is also an opportunity for you readers to get to know some more of the people I talk about here on Stresa Sights.

The story starts years ago, when I first started visiting Stresa. I was introduced to Marco and Emma on that first trip. Marco is a boat restorer straordinario, extraordinary. He has had his own cantiere nautico, his workshop, called Cantiere Nautico Aghemio, for many years, and he has become a specialist in the restoration of the lovely wooden boats called Riva. It's the kind of boat you can imagine George Clooney zipping around in.

Over the years I've watched the restoration of a couple of Rivas, including this one. When I first saw it, it consisted of nothing more than the original shell.  Each time I'd visit Stresa we would stop at the cantiere, see the works, and Marco would explain each new piece that had been installed, each new step in the process. Each part is painstakingly rebuilt from original parts or built to recreate the original. This Riva, a 1962 Ariston 421, took three and a half years to renovate. I watched it go from this:

to this:

Now named Grace, the Riva was finished this summer, and an evening had been organized at the Verbano Yacht Club in Stresa to present the finished boat ....
Marco prepared a slideshow and explained the works in Italian while Emma translated his words into English for the international crowd. A good-sized group of family, friends, and boat lovers came to enjoy the evening and congratulate Marco, who was deservedly glowing.



After the presentation corks were popped, champagne poured, and we mingled in the cool night air. Across the lake Isola Bella loomed directly in front of us; this is the closest spot on shore to the island. Soon we sat for a dinner of risotto, lake fish, and desserts. Oh and wine of course...



Having watched the progress of this Riva over the years I was delighted to be a part of the celebration. It made me think how things have changed...  A boat transforms from a shell into a sleek masterpiece. I change from a tourist in Stresa into, if not quite a Stresiana then at least an accepted part of the town. Marco and Emma change from strangers and then acquaintances into dear friends, and the crowd is filled with others that I've come to know, thanks to them. 



This was how I spent my last summer evening in Stresa this year. Looking at these photos from the evening I feel very content. A celebration, of the end of a project, and the end of a wonderful summer in Stresa. An end, sure, but it didn't really feel like one. It felt more like the last scene of a good movie, when everything has come together just perfectly, but we know the story will continue well, even though the film has stopped. It was like that.

I share this story with you because from the start I have been amazed at the beauty of the Riva and the craftsmanship of Marco's work. Maybe you will think of this as you watch boats skimming along on Lago Maggiore. If you want to see more photos from Cantiere Nautico Aghemio take a look here   And don't hesitate to say hi if you see any of us in town... you're friends now too...


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