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Monday, October 13, 2014

Three Historic Statues Along The Lungolago


I took advantage of a dramatic sky one morning, using it as a backdrop for photos of these three bronze statues found close to each other in the center of the Lungolago. I call these three the historic statues,  both because they are among the oldest of the statues along the lake, and because, in contrast to the ones I call the artistic statues, each of these commemorates a significant event or time in Stresa's past.

Let's begin with the above statue, which is the one closest to the Carciano side of the Lungolago, approximately in front of the Hotel des Iles Borromees.

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This is Umberto I di Savoia, who was the king of Italy from 9 January 1878 until his assasination at age 56 in 1900. Although nicknamed il Buono, the Good, by Italians (but most likely commanded by Umberto himself), he was not loved by all, and was killed by an anarchist. Interesting fact: The Savoys were so disliked at this time due to conflicts and suffering they caused so many of the other noble families that it was actually difficult to arrange a marriage for Umberto. Eventually he was married to his first cousin, who was herself a Savoy. 





In any case, Umberto was the ruler of this region that includes Stresa at the end of the 19th century, coinciding with a boom of touristic development in the region. The main street along the lake is called Corso Umberto, and undoubtedly now you will notice his name often. The stylized statue features a proud looking bust of Umberto, with his mustache, fashionable at his time, atop a tall pillar flanked by Liberty-style statues; on one side a apparently wounded person held up by another who glances up at Umberto, and on the other side one looking more strong, wearing a helmet decorated with what appears to be a hawk. 

Just a few meters along the Lungolago to the west brings you to this statue below, which honors the Alpini. High honor is given to the Alpini here in Stresa, and how proud their members are. Alpini were first officially organized in 1872 as a militia to defend the newly formed Republic of Italy's northern borders. Over the years the groups grew in number and in area covered. Comprising members who spent their entire lives living in the mountains they protected, they were knowledgeable and adept. In both World Wars they played significant roles, not only in these local mountains but advancing to fronts as far away as Russia and Northern Africa. 



Here's an interesting fact about the statue: Originally, there was a statue of just the Alpini soldier, eyes looking down, facial expression pensive and serious. Some years later, it was decided to add the donkey to the vignette, as it was in reality that these pack animals carried the heavy ammunition, marching alongside the Alpini. And so the donkey was added, but created by a different artist. Some say the donkey is a better sculpture than the solider; what do you think?



Continuing to the west, another few meters brings you to this monument. On the front is written, "STRESA, to the glorious dead," and it statue commemorates those Stresiani lost in different wars of the past century. The plaques on the other three sides list the names individually of the soldiers, as well as the dates of their death. Interesting to me that the statue, rather than sad, is strong and victorious; I feel as if their sacrifices have not been in vain when I see this statue. 






The Lungolago is full of statues, including the September 11 Memorial. I hope you take a moment to notice them as you stroll, and learn a little bit more about Stresa along the way.



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