HEMINGWAY’S LAKE MAGGIORE

London, England
Dear Reader, 
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      Ninety kilometers (fifty-six miles) northwest of Milano, Italie is a small town called Stresa that can be reached by a methodical, local train. Stresa is one of those places in the world where clocks still chime, however memories being made serve as the replacement for the knowledge of the passage of time. Matthew and I had been going hard in our travels, and it was here we were afforded the luxury of a slower speed. It was a joy exploring this place, and hiking eight miles from the halfway point up to the top of the Mottarone Mountain was an experience we will always cherish. In late October when the water of Lake Maggiore is too cold to swim in, Stresa is left with the natural companionship of its residents and the prominent Alps. This “Rose Knows” Travel – Stresa Edition is best showcased in the power of photos, and captions for the more curious details.
LANGUAGE. Italian.
Photo. Walking along Lake Maggiore in Stresa, Italie; stopped to take in a closer look at the moody weather developing over Isola Bella.

Photo. We had already lugged our luggage halfway across Europe at this point, so we gratefully clunked our bags down in the 150 year old Grand Hotel Des Ils Borromees; all the while, throwing open the doors to take in the colour of Fall in full flame from our balcony.

Photo. The Concierge at Grand Hotel Des Ils Borromees; notice the room keys with their forest green tassles hanging in their numbered rows behind the desk. 
Photo. The reception room at Grand Hotel with royal blue velvet upholstered furniture looking out to Lake Maggiore on a late October day.
Photo. A gold-trimmed cherub ceiling painting in the Lobby of the Grand Hotel Des Ils Borromees.

Photo. Feeling so small in comparison to the depth and mass of the lake and the Alps, I thought of the words penned by a special, lesser known environmental hero back in the 70s, “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature  – the assurance that dawns comes after night, and spring after winter,”[Rachel CarsonSilent Spring].

Photo. Rose and Matthew; blessed beyond belief to have found each other at 19 and 20 years old.

Photo. Along the waterfront in Stresa is a stone railing and view that looks like something out of The Sound of Music; Matthew and I could not help but think this would be the perfect location for a proposal.

Photo. Matthew looking out at Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls Lake Maggiore.

Photo. An abandoned property on the lakefront; Nature’s graffiti.

Photo. A bridge that led to the cable car station that takes you up the Mottarone for views of Lake Maggiore (and better views on a clear day).

Photo. Cable car heading up the Mottarone, which connects to an eight mile trail up to the top. The island you see is Isola Bella, one of the numerous Borromean Islands on the lake.

Photo. I love how some spider ingeniously used the circular twirl of the branch to create its web.

Photo. Charlotte and her dewy web.

Photo. A bathtub nobody wants.

Photo. “A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her,” [Max Lucado].

Photo. A purple fungi nourished in a blanket of foliage, a young woman nourished by the whole eclipse of nature surrounding her.

Photo. Best friends. After a long downpour the day before, everything on the mountain was soaked through. It was gorgeous, the mist softened every glance in all directions and the autumnal colours were glistening like newly mixed paint.

Photo. It was a real delight to cross paths with this local who stopped to let us see the fruits of his fungi hunt. Notice the special fungi knife in his right hand that helps him sever the mushroom from the earth.

Photo. A funky fungi.

Photo. You can see these tiny saplings in the foreground, and the mature, soaring trees behind them. Both new and old we must preserve and protect, so everyday do something to ensure their legacy.

Photo. In awe of the Mottarone forest; my shoes blend in perfectly with the green + yellow leaf carpet.

Photo. Abandoned cottages along L1 route up the Mottarone.

Photo. A stately tree trunk outfitted in a velvet green vest.

Photo. The Story of Matthew and Rose’s Alpyland Adventure by Matthew Schiller

     Amongst the foggy-soaked peaks of the Italian alps is year round operated tourist attractions of falconry lessons, horseback riding, ski lessons, and the pictured above, land luge atop the peak of Mottarone. There is among this a small world of Italian employees operating the whirring motors slinging paying tourists, suspended by steel cables and creaking glass boxes, perilously over the yellow and red autumn leaves of the camouflaged Italian Alps forestry in October. It is a time like this we would like to forget that our favorite song is “The Unwinding Cable Car” by Anberlin because unwinding cable cars sound disastrous, but somehow befitting of the kind of luck we usually encounter on our adventures. Of course, I have the blood lust to claim a summit–a strong masculine intrigue that I drag my dainty wife along to mandate. However, reaching the peak of Mottarone requires the employment of these soaked and bored Alpyland employees operating the waypoints of cable cars that transport travellers unwilling to ascend the damp mountain on foot.    
      We only used the first set of cable cars to reach the higher and untouched natural beauty to hike up the last 600 meters by foot–the final 200 being the most grueling service road at a constant 45 degree angle littered with baseball-sized cobble stones that tested the ‘sprainability’ of your ankles. Upon finally reaching the summit, we happened upon a second set of chairlifts that hung their unoccupied seats in the close horizon of the grey mist that condensed rain drops on everything. At this point, I would not be taking “no” for an answer from a fluttershy Emily and went rummaging through a quiet complex of water-stained wood huts at the foot of the chairlift next to a foray of commercial antennas buzzing with Italian correspondence. Inside a small hut with fogged glass were two bored Italian employees staring at their cell phone screens who started at the sight of a paying customer. Before I even inquired as to the price or whether or not I wanted to take the chairlift they slammed a huge red button behind their seats on a massive dark green metal controller box that roared the chairlift generators to life amongst the gentle pitter of rain. They radioed a comrade held accountable with the other side of the chairlift and showed us to our wet seats which had had plenty of time to be thoroughly soaked. It was 16:30, and there was not a single other tourist in the quiet clouds. 
      Emily despised the idea of soaking her wool tartan skirt on the rickety, shaky chair lift on top of her fear of heights but the inviting exuberance of the Alpyland employees was too much to resist anymore and commity now reigned Emily into a plastic chairlift seat pooling water–now soaked into once dry clothing. Emily could not stop frowning and before she had time to protest she was hanging forty feet over the spongy rising summit being pulled by a swaying chairlift further into the rain and mountain. Emily’s anger amused me so much I laughed at all that was wrong with this scenario including my own wet seat and the ever impending last-cable-car-down-the-mountain deadline which was in twenty minutes. 
     Much to the clever intrigue of the architect of this tourist trap, we gazed on an ironwork web of twisting tracks that flowed down the mountain in and out of sight in the fog and no riders or fun-havers could be heard or seen taking the track- enforcing the feeling that this was lacking popular consensus of safety. At the top of the chairlift was a solitary man carrying a walkie talkie with a surprised expression on his face to see the hanging chair to arrive despite the fact that this was his job. It must have been that this fateful day, we were the only stupid tourists to do this during the rain. However, at this point all sense of appearances had vanished as I dragged Emily towards the land luge slide and enquired into another foggy small hut crammed with two smelly Italians busy working on their cell phones obviously taking advantage of the close proximity to the buzzing antennas just down the mountain. The younger worker took advantage of discovering more life besides his comrade and took to being the only extroverted employee of Alpyland we experienced that day. He found some old crinkled paper towels and wiped down the seats of a dual rider cart. He motioned towards the hand brake and turned around and hid inside the foggy hut once more; never to be seen again.  
     It began to rain harder and at this point Emily just wanted to survive without taking the wobbly chairlift once more so we began down the shoot magoot in haste – unaware that you needed to pull two breaks in actuality to stop; there were in fact two and not just the one the Italian had pointed to as I kept pulling that one in earnest. We tooled down the mountain with a good many shouts and laughs to a locked-up exit where we proceeded to climb over two separate pad-locked gates. The slogan may have been “Fun No Stop!” for a reason because I do not think they intended us to leave at this point seeing as the exit was locked and we had to escape by climbing an obstacle course a la marines training wall. With one glance back, the cart we rode continued in a circle and headed back up the mountain in a straight line at a steep angle to begin the course down the peak again. I believe we escaped a sinister plot to keep us trapped at Alpyland, where “Fun No Stop” for no one. Because once they started those generators for our measly 16 euros we paid, I supposed they were going to force us to continue the profitable venture so long as the kilowatts kept twirling the lazy chairlift between huts of smelly Italian men in foggy glassed chalets conspiring on their cell phones and Walkie Talkies. 
Photo. A poster we laughed at promising, “Fun no stop!” [Disclaimer: In late October, Rain no stop!”
Photo. A royal red carpet of leaves.

Photo. Dreaming on the waterfront.

Photo. Poseidon’s Gate.

Photo. A path to the water; just off the main waterfront road Piazza Marconi that leads into Stresa’s adorable little town.
Photo. A man contemplating the distance.
Photo. A glimpse of Isola Bella’s gorgeous grounds from the water.
Photo. Arrived by water taxi onto the little Isola Bella, an island where Carlo III of the House of Borromeo built and constructed a Palace that fancied to entertain the likes of such prestigious figures as Napolean and his first wife, Josephine de Beauharnais.
Photo. The Borromeo Palace was beautiful; the grandiose walls along the stairs leading up to the main level were painted in baby blue and gold. The insignias sculpted within the various stone shields held different meanings for the family and the elitist culture at large.
Photo. In one of the largest rooms of the Palace at Isola Bella.
Photo. A female nude, a conch, a child, and all the finesse in fine details.
Photo. Pink and maroon kaleidoscope-esque painted ceilings.
Photo. The library and a globe.
Photo. Pretty little watercolour print hung in a study within the Palace.
Photo. Various colours of marble, mined and cut locally, comprising the polished decor.
Photo. A bucolic ceiling in the Palace.
Photo. I find greenhouses particularly fascinating.
Photo. A water lily bloomed on Isola Bella.
Photo. A tree lit up in yellow.
Photo. A view of Stresa’s lakeshore from atop Isola Bella.
Photo. Stresa, then.
Photo. Stresa, now.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Have you traveled to the northern Lombardy region in Italie? What is your favorite place? Share with me in a comment below.
 
Cheers to the Wonder of Exploring, 
Emily Rose
 
 
 
 
© by Emily Rose Reeder, est. 2012. All Rights Reserved
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