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Tuesday, July 2, 2013
11:32 AM | Dana Kaplan, Stresa Sights | Edit Post
What a wonderful surprise of a Sunday! First, the weather gods provided a perfect day. Second, that meant we could use my favorite Italian mode of transportation -- scooter! This is a larger BMW scooter, too large for me to manage as a driver, but plenty of space for me to travel as a passenger. It stores two helmets under the seat, and I find it very comfortable. And how about my banana yellow casco, helmet!
We set out for Cannero, a perfect little jewel of a town up the lake, very near to Switzerland. The reason was to meet a friend of Giuseppe's, Ivan, to take a look at some property he owns. This property is directly on the lake, and has an astounding view of the Castelli di Cannero from its terraces. I kept myself busy taking photos while they talked business.
( continued ... )
For reference, we are about 25k from Stresa on the road along the lake. It cannot be seen, but Stresa is all the way far off in the distance in the background of the photo below.
Then happened the best surprise of the day: An offer to see the castelli up close! From our own private yacht! :-) I felt as if I were in Venezia ... A gondola, and Ivan, our very strong gondolier.
He did not sing, unfortunately, although I did ask.
The castles are still in the midst of some sort of reconstruction, but no works happening on Sunday. It's still a bit unknown what final plan the Borromeo family has for them. Right now they are clearly ruled not by Borromei, but by a kingdom of seagulls.
All around the castle small craft were anchored, some tethered to each other, and other small craft moved through the area, but never noisy or fast enough to create disturbing waves. It was the most tranquil scene. One boy, about ten years old, was climbing on the lone small rock 'island', in sight of his family's boat, and jumping smoothly into the lake water, which was relatively warm and clear. One man paddled slowly around in the smallest inflatable kayak. On various motorboats people sunbathed on the top decks. No radios. No talking. Just peace.
We circled the islands. Coming around one side I spotted a sign attached to the side of the rock. We went closer, to read it.
It uses very poetic language, and it took a bit of research to translate it, but here's the essence of what we got:
Here, the old 'Rondine', tired,
His beloved waves he left,
and the sky and the stars...
Because his driver is not returning any more,
long ago lost in battle.
Oh, Armando, that you don't have a grave!
This may be yours! And his ...
A little more Googling around taught us that Armando Chirole was a young man of Cannero. "Rondine" seems to have been a nickname of his. A soldier of the rank S. Tenente in the second World War, Armando lost his life in battle in Cefalonia, Greece, in September, 1943. He seems to have been known as a sailing pioneer on Lago Maggiore, as well as a musician. The exact meaning of this very romantic poem we can only speculate, but what a lovely, sad thing to discover on the side of this rock.
Ivan rowed us back to shore.
Days that just unfold, like the opening of a series of little gift boxes put into each other, can be the best. Wonder inside of magic inside of surprise. How to end such a day? By attempting to take photos of ourselves on the scooter, in the reflection of various glass windows. Don't worry, don't worry ... we weren't driving! We stopped on sidewalks to try. Silly we are, sempre, always. Crazy we're not.
Cannero, by the way, is so well worth a visit. About 45 minutes by car, or the same on a small boat. The larger lake ferries do take longer to reach Cannero, due to other stops. But even that trip is worth, for the relaxation and the scenery. I would suggest going as early as possible, plan to spend the day, and returning as late as possible. Cannero is very picturesque, with an elegant lakefront promenade and a long, winding paved path and green park along the lake. Its placement gives it sun throughout much of the day; picnicing on the grass of these well-tended parks seemed very popular.
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