Dwight Peck's personal Web site

Winter 2004-2005

as life's hectic non-stop party threatens to get out of control and really exhausting


Kristin's April 2005 visit to Switzerland (and Italy)

You 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.

Verbania and the Borromeo Islands

Like other readers besotted with Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms, many times we have plodded through Stresa on the western short of Lago Maggiore promising ourself that, one day, we would treat ourself to a visit to the Isole Borromee. Especially having been forced to study the careers and "thoughts" of various cardinals and theologians of the Borromeo family, we were determined finally to go out there and see what they left behind.

The lakeboat from Cannobio's on strike for the morning and takes 3 hours anyway, so we've dashed by auto to Verbania, a much better jumping-off place for the Isole in any case. Now we're just strolling around Verbania, looking for a hot-dog stand, till the strike's over and the boat's ready to go.

Even Verbania has a lovely old part of town.

We're idling about here, just waiting for Kristin, who's found another pharmacy to browse in for a while.

The strike should be over now, it's time to leave Verbania and catch the boat for the Borromeo Isles.

Ready to go. [More views of Verbania, 2009]

That's Pallanza, just around the bend from Verbania, and now we're heading out to the Isola Madre.

That's the very nice house the Borromeos built on Isola Madre (Milan -- think Visconti, Sforza, Borromeo! That's how bigtime the Borromeos were in their prime, i.e., from the 16th century until they turned this house over to the national trust for taxes.) Theologically, this was a no-show, which is fine! Gardening-wise, helluva job, Borromeos.

That's the front door of it, a lovely house, with many many unlabeled portraits of semi-ugly people and lots of excellent period furniture. (No photos!)

That's the palace chapel on Isola Madre, a little like a Caribbean casino except for the cross on top, but really quite a restful place. The island is a big exotic garden, with flowers from all over, probably reaching full bloom just about when the high-season tourists cascade down upon the place in full cry. We had fewer blooms but fewer tourists.

Great gardening, fresh sushi in the pond. The main house has got a great marionette museum as well, created by the family in the 19th century with the help of La Scala set designers in their off hours, and some 19th century Countess' doll collection, which is a bit scary if you've seen those horror movies about grinning killer dolls.

We've noticed something . . .

. . . ah.

Neat

Pheasants and peacocks in the gardens (and a parrot collection), but we must prepare to island-hop when the next boat arrives.

Here's the middle Borromeo island, the Isola dei Pescatori or Fishermen's Island, a compact community built around the 16th century San Vittore church.

At mid-summer this must be a madhouse, but for the moment we've got it more or less to ourselves, and it's easier to imagine what life might have been like here some 400 years ago.

From the park at the end of the tiny Isola dei Pescatori

In a pleasant afternoon on Fishermen's Island, many boats but no fishing boats to be seen.

Near the boat dock, getting ready for the summer hordes

Isola Bella, the other one, an 18th century palace and gardens -- we avoided this one because it looked somewhat overdone.

We're leaving the Isola dei Pescatori now, and going back to Cannobio for an enormous dinner. Tip: the pizza in that ristorante on the right is really crappy, and the beer comes in a plastic cup.

Senior citizen tour boats from Stresa

That's the Isola Madre again as we head for the old feedbag in Cannobio.


Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 5 May 2005, revised 2 July 2008, 5 August 2014.


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