Reflections in Lake Como

Lake Como View

It is fitting that Lake Como is the end of my Italian smorgasbord. The crisp air, clear lake, and austere mountains make the perfect antidote to a whirlwind surfeit of ancient ruins and expansive history. There comes a point where Borromini and Tintoretto and Gaius Aurelius all merge together into an indistinguishable tangle of fallen Doric columns and frayed frescoes. Here, gazing at snow-capped Grigna Mountain as it salutes the cloudless sky, I can sip on the bracing ether of nature as an antidote to the hearty fare of culture I have been treated to on the rest of my tour. Too much of anything can turn it bland and I am feeling corpulent on the menu of architecture and art I have been gorging on from Rome to Venezia. After such a feast, it is time for a restorative which the unruffled landscape of Lake Como provides. Continue reading

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A Tale of Chance in Verona

Verona_Ostello-Della-Gioventu I had come to Verona, Italy for the Roman arena and the medieval castle but, somehow my feet wandered over to number 27 Via Capello, famously known as the “House of Juliet.” If I wasn’t such a fan of Shakespeare I wouldn’t have entered through the dark passageway into the courtyard. After all, this is not the real house of Juliet. It used to be a thirteenth century inn which was refurbished by the city in the twentieth century. In fact the tale of Juliet and her doomed lover Romeo was a work of fiction by Italian writer Luigi da Porto long before Shakespeare set his version down. But that is the power of a good story. The star-crossed sweethearts have been resuscitated in prose and poetry for centuries and its tragic romance attracts hundreds to the Casa di Giulietta in Verona. The house itself is not exceptional, but the fervency of those that come to visit here lends the ivy covered walls a forlorn romance. Continue reading

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Love and Loyalty in Siena

“Blood makes you related, but loyalty makes you family,” my friend Chiara says to me.

Siena_San-DomenicoWe were carefully ensconced underneath a copious awning, sipping our caffe corretto as we looked out upon the famous Piazza del Campo in Siena, Italy. In the drizzling rain, the square and its Mangia Tower had taken on the look of a bedraggled beast and I could not understand how this stained and smudged town aroused such passion. Since she hates to be asked to explain herself, I maintain my taciturnity and think about her statement. Continue reading

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A Secret Love in Venice

Venice_cathedralVenice always seems to be the setting for tragic love stories. From Shakespeare’s Othello to Thomas Mann’s Aschenbach, characters find themselves in the throes of disastrous passion in this seductive Italian city. I think it is the decayed historicity of the water-logged destination that makes it so attractive to calamitous dramas. Many people are turned off by the moldy buildings, the dank water slowly creeping in everywhere, and the city’s eeriness even on the brightest of days. I relish my memories of Venice for I, too, have a secret tale of unrequited love in this mysterious port. Venice ensnared me into its provocative clutches and has never let go her hold. Continue reading

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