Peck's personal Web site
life's hectic non-stop party threatens to get out of control and really exhausting
April 2005 visit to Switzerland (and Italy)
may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a
good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught
up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
off to Cannobio!
Sub-Saharan friends never believe us, but by late April in the northern hemisphere
we sometimes grow a little tired of the snow, and then frequently we drift southwards
over the Alps to warm up a bit and eat a lot of good stuff in Italy.
our destination, the extremely exceptional Albergo Pironi in the village of Cannobio
on the Lago Maggiore just over the Simplon Pass. This lovely restoration is a
3-star upper-medium-priced, very comfortable 15th century palazzo, formerly a
Franciscan monastery, that's still loaded down with original frescoes, vaulted
ceilings, medieval stone columns, and great views out over the lake.
having snuck out from work a little early for a 3.5 hour drive over the Simplon
Pass from Switzerland (that's Kristin's driving -- figure 4.5 for me), here's
the view we woke to on 21 April 2005.
here's the adjacent street from our pleasant balcony.
here, well, here is the street in front of the Pironi looking up into the centre
of the upper town. That's a boutiquey sort of pedestrian shopping street, but
blessedly we're in the off season!
ventures out of the Hotel Pironi to have a look-round in downtown Cannobio before
setting off on whatever hikes we may find on offer in the region. Lake Maggiore
is at the bottom of the alley.
main street of Cannobio, cobbled like much of the rest of the town. Most streets
are set aside mainly for pedestrians, and the old town dates back to forever on
the height about 40 metres above the shoreline.
our hotel, the Pironi -- we're on our way back down to check out the waterfront,
which was developed later (I suppose after the clearing of the lakeside marshes),
mostly in the 18th century (or 17th century according to the local literature
in Italian, since Italians count differently than we do).
the lovely waterfront on a cool April day with few tourists about. (Some villages
in Switzerland, like Grindelwald, for example, cater particularly for the Japanese,
with Japanese shopgirls in all the ski-rental shops. Cannobio caters for Germans!
Our hotel graces its guests at breakfast each morning with an ample selection
of newspapers in Italian and German. (But the news agent in the lower left of
this photo always had at least one International Herald Tribune (but no Guardian
Pironi hides just a few meters up to the right of that pretty red building, the
Hotel Cannobio. This is the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele III (that's not Vittorio Emanuele
II, whose refugio can be seen here).
pier is on the right -- our planned cruise to the misty isles on the morrow was
delayed by some mix-up about somebody's Father or something.
making plans for the afternoon.
the fancy Chiesa Santissima Pietà on the left (not bad); that's Kristin
on the right (very good).
virtues of visiting in the off-season
lot (lots more underground), old buildings, Italian (or, in fact, probably Swiss)
mountains on the far side of the lake. (Lugano's over down the other side of them,
where years ago we spent our traditional April hols perched in steep lakeside
just strolling round town now, all round the narrow cobbled stone streets, but
here's another photo of the Pironi on the right, in better light.
peaceful little neighborhoods
well-kept up, trees neatly pruned back for the winter. Northern Italy, IF it were
an independent country, which it's NOT, would have the highest standard of living
in the world. Shocking scenic beauty, great infrastructure, stylish folks, millennia
of culture to inhabit, and not much bad to say about the place.
the hotel Cannobio, the red one, said to be a comparably great hotel experience
(4 stars instead of 3!), but we still wouldn't trade the Pironi for it, as we've
become very attached to the Pironi. The Hotel Cannobio does have a great Web
site, though, and if Verdi really always stayed there instead of the Pironi
. . . well, perhaps he was mistaken.
(centre) giving the lunchtime menu the attention it deserves, amongst throngs
along the waterfront -- that's the Hotel Cannobio on the left.
southward along the waterfront.
green trees for April, probably normal south of the Alps.
lakeboat coming in from Luino towards the main dock (the Holy Father guy's strike
is not till tomorrow morning)
low prices, time to stock up on everything!
reads menus like others read the Guardian, or the Quran.
road from Switzerland and the Simplon Pass comes down through Domodóssola
to the lower left -- to reach Cannobio one passes through Verbania and travels
up the lake road for about 20 minutes. The frontier back into Switzerland can
be seen just north of Cannobio (to which Frederick Henry and Catherine Barkley rowed overnight from Stresa).
and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, .
All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 5 May 2005, revised 1 July 2008, 5 August 2014.