Jul 31, 2011

There are laws in Southern Italy?

Mount Tovo, color photo, but thanks to the cloud cover it looks black and white.

It's been a week since I drove 16hrs from Borgosesia to Riace in Calabria. I left almost continuous thunderstorms and fog for sunshine and surf..oh, and mosquitoes. I waged war on one solitary soldier who left  considerable damage on the war-field before retreating to summon back-up for a future encounter.
Seeing the welts that quickly rise into burning red bumps from each attack, the question comes to mind....has anyone yet died from anaphalactic shock from these miserable creatures? I might be the first statistic.

Same isolated beach as last year. We usually have it to ourselves in the morning.
I have come to regard this beloved south as the lawless south, not because of crime but because so few people seem to pay any regard to the basic laws. No one would know there is a helmet law especially when riders on their scooters or motorbikes whiz past police officers with their hair playing happily about their faces.  

The traffic light on the corner is to be obeyed if there happens to be other traffic that might impend your turn, otherwise, go ahead, cross the intersection on red.

Who cares about oncoming traffic on a two lane road, especially if you can squeeze past the slow moving car in front of you, even if  the car approaching is level with you. I watched one driver overtake on a curve, then overtake the next car by driving completely in the opposite lane with the approaching car driving on his bicycle lane. No one seemed to mind except me. I was so astonished that I almost missed my turn, braked hard to take it and induced a certain amount of car honking from behind me. So it's okay to recklessly pass but not to slow down. But naturally I am at fault as he was riding my bumper. Isn't that how it works?

Years ago, I was told (by a northerner) the south is filled with sleepy, sluggish people, which I have found to be totally untrue. And if the driving is any indication, I am convinced then that one has to be the very opposite - extremely attentive, in order to not get into serious bodily harm.

Jul 15, 2011

Design of a Door, Lombardia Italy

I love the doors in Italy, their form, their engravings, the beauty of the marble or stone thresholds, the size. I can go on and in this blog, I've posted so many photos of doors that caught my eye. This one is not one that captivated me for it's aesthetic, but for its construction.

And then I learned that even doors can tell a story, almost like a person, such as the part of Italy that they are from or when they were "born". 

This door isn't crooked as you might think right off. It has a small hinge on the top and a large one below in order to create a door that self closes. The longer the iron hinge at the bottom, and the heavier the door, the faster that door will shut. This design runs as far back as the 1600's and is characteristic of the northern part of Italy.

The face itself, with the curved corners places it in the Lombardy region and in fact, it belongs to the Church of Peter and Paul in Vilminore, a community close to Bergamo.

Some time ago I had wondered about the black lines that marred the faces of doors I'd seen in the south and learned the message it conveyed. Little did I realize that the door itself can tell a whole story on it's own...

Jul 11, 2011

Schilpario and Pradella, Italy

Weekend visit in the Bergamasc Alps in Lombardy for trekking.

Belltower at Schilpario church, Piazza Cardinal Maj


Piazza Cardinal Maj                                            Piazza dell'Orso

We went without making reservations, thinking we were still out of the high season. Wrong, wrong, wrong. This little mountain town is not that far from Milan and even closer to the bustling Bergamo. So it's an easy get-away for city dwellers to come for a weekend or as we discovered, for just the night.

Lodging at Schilpario

Accomodation on Friday was a breeze. Just about every lodging in the town of Schilpario had Friday night free, but not Saturday. We chose to stay at the Hotel Pineta in town and then at Pradella, a small community outside of town, for Saturday night. Christina's Bed and Breakfast was our first choice and she had a room free on Friday but the shared bathroom down the hall was off putting. (Haven't done that in a while.) She wasn't that welcoming either and  her question as to why don't we go to another establishment made me want to leave immediately. The melting icing on the cake was when she didn't want to tell us her price until we told her what the other hotels had quoted, then said that was her price too. I had grown wings by this time.

Saturday night we spent at the Hotel San Marco in Pradella, the only hotel that had rooms available (and the first one we drove by saying we didn't want to stay at). They have an onsite museum of fossils and minerals.

Local church at Pradella; view from Hotel San Marco

Sentiero CAI 422 to Pizzo Camino above Schilpario

We spent Saturday afternoon trekking up to the base of bald headed Pizzo Camino, a trail that went straight up the vertical with very few turns to tone down the incline. It was like stairs without the benefit of a flat platform for your feet.
Zoom to Pizzo Camino from Schilpario;                              Peek of trail to mountain head.

View of Schilpario from trail;                                          base of Pizzo Camino at Rifugio Ebolo (closed)


We ordered the 'pane dolce', sweet bread, that is a typical pastry for the area and much bigger than the traditional brioche.

Dinner was a delight at the Agriturismo Gigia (pity they didn't have rooms, but some areas of Italy are restricted in this way.) They served bruschettta while we made up our minds. There was a fixed menu that included a taste of two "primi" and two "secondi", desert, coffee and drinks included, but we chose individual plates, a local ravioli and baked lamb. The food was delicious...and we left with two of their own goat cheeses in hand.


Jul 2, 2011

Chiesa San Rocco Miasino

A short drive from the shores of Lake Orta will bring you to this small village that boasts and enormous church. The Chiesa San Rocco in Miasino is one of the largest in the province and dates back to the 17th century. 

Well, it was re-constructed to the current baroque design by a milanese architect in the 17 century but was a romanesque church for a century before that. Although it was consecrated in 1648, the facade was not finished until 1933 by a local architect, Carlo Nigra. It was at his villa that the wedding reception took place.

Front of Chiesa San Rocco, Miasino; View toward the multicolored, marble altar.

Doorknob at the entrance:  Detail of wall engravings

Chiesa San Rocco's organ


About Weddings and Miasino Italy


Walking around the cobble stoned streets like these in the town of Miasino, I noticed little purple butterflies hanging from many windows. At first I thought it was a baby announcement, but unless the lucky parents had twins....

These lovely little cards were hung around Miasino which lies above Lake Orta (about 479 m above sea level for those who want to know). Rossella and Raffaele were at that very moment celebrating at the Villa Nigra, a semi-secluded property that was situated behind this rusty gate. It's the ornate pillar work that caught my eye.

My friend's sister was recently wed and I learned that Italian weddings are not the affair as in America or even Britain where the bridesmaids are dressed alike with a color theme etc. We can really go all out to make a wedding a grand spectacle. Here, the bridesmaids or maid/matron of honor just come dressed up and even in a color of their choice. And, in the south, guests will more than likely all be dressed in formal black...a color I usually associate with, um, funerals and the end of life.

We just received a wedding invitation for A's cousin, and it arrived in a regular size 10 envelope, nothing fancy. Nothing wrong at all with it but it did make me realize how weddings in the States have become big business for many and it's no surprise that it is a drain on many a pocketbook. 

Well, since I wasn't invited to R and R's wedding I can only guess at where they tied the knot. Either at the imposing Chiesa San Rocco which is just a short walk away from the Villa Nigra.....,

It's this awesome church that created my desire to see Miasino. I mean, wouldn't you want to check it out too if this commanded your attention as you rounded the curve?
Photo by Marco Ferrari...Panoramio

.....or the Castello di Miasino a short drive away. Entrance is by appointment only so I didn't see it in person. Maybe one day.