NORTHERN ITALY: A TRIP TO THE LAKERS
On the horizon – the snow caps of the mountains. Behind the glass of the car flashed a motley ribbon similar to each other coastal towns. Faded, aged by time and bad weather – yellow, orange, blue. Squeezed by two-and three-storey houses with colored lattice shutters, the road sometimes narrows so much that you don’t leave the truck any more.
Somewhere below, near the water, luxurious villas are hidden. From the road, they are guessed only by glass cubes of elevators and tiny parking lots filled with new Porsche and retro cabriolets. The lakes of Italy are the favorite vacation spot of the rich for the past fifteen hundred years, so there are fewer public beaches and embankments than you expect to see. Low fences and hedges separate the world of the rich from the world of the poor.
What do we know about northern Italy from travel agency brochures? Renaissance and Baroque architecture. Romeo and Juliet. Blue to impossibility glacial lakes. Shopping without borders. Parmigiano Reggiano and Parma ham. Tourists with experience will add to this the inflated prices for hotels, leisurely service in restaurants and the subtle aroma of lemon in the air. And history and geography textbooks will remind you of the Celtic invasion in ancient times, replaced by Roman rule. Umbras, Etruscans, Venets, Ligurs. And the European civil wars for power, which ended with the unification of the country only in the XIX century.
The influence of powerful families on individual cities and entire regions persists to this day. For example, the Borromeo family, originating from the third-century Christian martyr Justina Padua and giving the nation of one saint, seven cardinals and countless bankers and financiers, still plays a special role in the north of the country. Once a part of Lombardy was called “the Borromean State”.
The island of Isola Bella on Lake Lago Majoro is the cultural center of this state in the state, the visible embodiment of their power. In the 17th century, the rock inhabited by fishermen was rebuilt into a palace and park ensemble, a bird’s-eye resembling a giant cruise liner. You can only get here by boat, which is already waiting at the pier of the quiet town of Stresa. The mustache captain deftly throws the rope off the bollard, and the boat slowly sails into the ten-minute crossing.
The stone steps of the palace go straight into the water. An old cast-iron cannon looks menacingly toward the shore. The Baroque garden is one of the best places for photo shoots in all of Europe, adjacent to the magnificent palace.
On cast-iron gates and flower pots – bas-reliefs in the form of three intertwining “Borromean rings”. This is one of the symbols of the clan, meaning “Strength in unity.”
Without paying any attention to people, white peacocks slowly roam the garden. On the pedestals are statues of nymphs and gods. Above the multi-tiered terraces of the Theater Massimo, in the grottoes of which were hidden the statues personifying the Ticino rivers, Toché and the four elements, another family symbol proudly rises – the unicorn. All the prominent guests of the Borromeo family stayed here, including Napoleon Bonaparte and his wife Josephine. Only one person from the clan was familiar with hard physical labor – fashion designer Marta Marzotto, who began her career in the rice fields. There are no rules without exceptions, are there?
On the road again. The road now and then dives into long tunnels. They were built not a thousand years ago, but in the XX century, but, looking at their mossy vaults and walls, you immediately remember that it was the Roman Empire that was the pioneer of road construction. Stone-paved public roads with a width of six to 12 meters tied the main settlements of present-day Italy before the beginning of our era. Ironically, it was the good roads that destroyed Rome, facilitating the advance of the barbarian troops. For the same roads
In the 6th century, the Lombards came here, calling the region they conquered Lombardy.
From the north side, glacial lakes are protected by the high wall of the Alps, cold winds are rare here, so the terracotta roofs of seaside villages are hidden under the canopy of palm trees. The landscape with the blue satin of lakes and the mountains of mountains enliven yachts with high masts and expensive cars.
I admire the beauties on the way to Lake Como, the main thing is not to happen to be in … another country. At this point in the map, the contour of the Swiss border can be inserted into the territory of Italy with a fang. Not every tourist can avoid mistakes: it is worth to miss the exit to the city of Como, and now we are standing in line at the Swiss border crossing. In order not to hang around in traffic, we decide to return to Italy through the residential areas of the border town, and the Swiss border guards immediately stop us.
It is unlikely that they today came across more suspicious individuals. Two bearded men – one Russian, another Ukrainian – on a brand-new Skoda Superb Combi with Czech registration marks are trying to drive from Switzerland to Italy in the kitchen gardens! A well-shaven border guard in rectangular glasses looks sternly at the documents. “How much cash do you have with you?” Car for inspection! ”