Moving the clock forward a couple of years and we were back in Italy, this time in the sunny south. The presence of Vesuvius across the Bay of Naples was a powerful magnet, but we never did make it to the summit. You can try to cram too much into a holiday. I remember it being hot as Hades in Pompeii, so we opted for a cooler day to take the train to Ercolano. Although it was 22 years ago, I can still recall the awe we felt in the presence of this survivor of the volcanic eruption of AD79. Fragile as it was, so much was still intact. The beautiful frescoes and mosaic tiled bath houses of this former seaside resort had survived being buried in ash.
The day was hotting up by the time we’d finished our visit, but the ascent of the volcano was just 12km away. Too tempting, we caught the bus for the panoramic ride up the mountain, only to find that we still had an hour and a half of rough uphill walking ahead of us. There wasn’t time to reach the summit and return for the last bus down again. So near and yet so far! We were running out of holiday and I never managed to look into that caldera. I think the experience would be very different today.
I started this series as a way to take part in Becky’s Bright Squares, but I’ve been swept along on the tide of memory. I’m hoping that you’ll be happy to carry on with me. Meanwhile, many thanks to our lovely hostess.
Do you ever wish you were an artist? What must it be like to look at a scene like this and know that you can replicate your version of heaven, with just a smidgeon of cloud here, a patch of blue there? I hovered behind him, watching the bay take shape in front of my eyes. He was oblivious. Just One Person from around the World.
Perhaps you’d like to sit a while and watch the ferry dock? For us, Ascona was but a brief stop off on our trip to Lake Maggiore, but you can linger as long as you like. Have a cappuchino- why wouldn’t you? I don’t have Becky’s knack for squaring videos, but she made me cry with hers this morning. Streisand often gets me that way. “Misty water-coloured memories…”
Yet another bright memory, but my last from the lovely Italian Lakes. Next time I’ll take you south to the Amalfi Coast.
Where next? A year later found us with this stunning vista of Lake Como. Not my image- my husband was chief cameraman. I simply gawped! And kept a lookout in case a certain Mr. Clooney happened to saunter by, in this playground for millionaires. Bellagio was all I could have hoped for. Our hotel, on the lake front, had the look of former gentility, with frescoes on the dining room ceiling and an air of grandeur. We were tucked neatly away in a large cupboard at the back, and tiptoed down the stairs to breakfast. But the view across the water was sublime.
My memories of Como are not so clear as those of Garda, and I’ve had to rootle under the bed for the box of postcards that constituted my diary at that time. I would say that it was more of a holiday for grown ups, with beautiful gardens and villas everywhere you looked. Entertaining a 7 year old was less easy, but he was pretty good at finding himself friends, including an older couple with whom he regularly played cards. His blow-up rubber boat was a great success in the freezing hotel pool, despite, or because of, its slow puncture. A memorable coach trip to Lake Lugano in Switzerland provided stunning scenery for us and, for him, a giant chess set on the endless shoreline.
Impossible to forget, though, the vision of Isola Bella. We ferried across Como to join a coach for Stresa, on Lake Maggiore. A motorboat carried us out across the water to the Borromean Islands, to the wedding cake confection that is Isola Bella. Everything is anticlimax once you have witnessed these coral grottoes, whimsical statues and the manicured lawns where white peacocks parade. It feels like treading in someone else’s dream.
Almost beyond your wildest dreams, and then onwards, swept towards Isola dei Pescatori, the more modest Fisherman’s island. In the distance, Isola Madre, the mother island. Many holidays rolled into one is how I remember Lake Como, with every possible variation in the weather. Water dripping from our noses in the capital, Como, and searing heat on the islands. A feast of a holiday!
Becky is taking a little sojourn of her own. Do join her with a BrightSquare!
We spent two holidays on Lake Garda. The first, based in Bardolino, enticed us to return. Not something we would normally do, but when something is such a perfect fit, why not? Our hotel, 5 minutes from the lake, was comfortable and easy. Small boys were very welcome, and when the tureen of spaghetti, in a simple but delicioza tomato sauce, passed around and around the dining room, not just the small one was delighted.
There was a favourite cafe, overlooking the ferry departure point, where once we watched a storm roll across the waters. Torrential rain poured, and it poured. The water joined with the flood waters of the lake and rose, higher and higher. The waiters diligently swept the waters away, and we sat, helpless, with our feet up on adjacent seats as it rose, and rose. And then, slowly abated, as if it had never been.
Small boy loved the hydrofoils, and was on first name terms with all of them. It didn’t even put him off when we got caught in a storm, out on the lake, and the hydrofoil leaped and danced through the waves like a dolphin as the water raged over us.
Another, much calmer day, we took the ferry to Sirmione. Ice cream by the harbour, compensation for the lack of hydrofoil. High on the battlements, we watched the boats come and go.
Becky has many bright memories of her own. Share them with her on her special day. Happy birthday, darlin!
We walked with a certain spring in our step last Monday. Although it was a walk we’d done before, it was our first walk outside of our own small patch of the Algarve, and we were almost giddy with freedom. Starting at Fonte Felipe, in the hills above Sáo Romáo, a well marked trail led to many delights. Most exciting of these, wild orchids!
It’s rocky terrain and, even after a damper than usual winter, many of the river beds are dry. It’s amazing what can thrive in these conditions. Bright blue iris unfurl in the sunlight and the fields are studded with buttons of yellow and fragrant lavender. In a patch of green, a poppy sizzles.
The woodland shade nurtures the lively blue of the wild agapanthus. The trail twists and turns, and we breath in the scents of the flowers as we brush past them. Solid slabs of rock have been hewn from the landscape to create boundaries.
Progress is slow as we examine and exclaim at each new sighting. Jewel brights light the deep green shade. The last time we were here it was early Autumn and the paths were strewn with acorns. Spring has brought abundance to these hills. And then we have our first glimpse! Orchids are shy, and nestle beneath companion trees for protection from prying eyes. But finding one almost invariably leads to another.
We linger till we have spotted every last one. I am reluctant to move on, for I know that the orchids will have evaded capture. I can never produce a crisp image of these tiny things, try as I might. But the images are imprinted upon my brain. A treat to be stored for the future. I hurry to catch up my companions, smiling happily at the wonder of my surrounds.
Small white cistus dot the landscape, amid a spiky yellow shrub, not unlike broom. We have to watch our footing as the trail starts to descend, loose rocks being something of a hazard. But this isn’t a walk to rush, for there are surprises around every corner.
We could not decide what this beauty might be, but it stood, alone and proud, as we began our descent. The cork oaks stood sentinel over their beautiful charges, as they have for many long years, and all was right with our world.
I hope there are enough Bright Squares here to satisfy Becky. It’s a bit of a deviation from my bright memories in the Italian Lakes, but I’ll be back there later this week. Meanwhile there are walks to share.
Feel free to join in at any time. I’m walking with you once a fortnight, but walks are always gratefully accepted. It doesn’t have to be a Monday. That’s washday, isn’t it?
What nicer way to start than with a garden tour from Jude?
The backdrop always produces a sigh. You know by now that I’m taking you on a watery journey, back in time, through the lakes of Northern Italy. We’ve traveled south today, along the western shore of Lake Garda to Gardone Riviera. A tranquil scene yet, set into the hills behind it, we encountered a strange place. Vittoriale degli Italiani – the shrine of Italian victories and former home of controversial Italian writer, Gabriele D’Annunzio, where a concrete battleship, complete with cannon, fired the imagination of a small boy.
For some time I’ve been thinking about a wander down Memory Lane with you, but then yesterday I was searching the chaos of my past life. I didn’t find the pink palace at Estoi that I was looking for, but I was transported back in time to a place that I love. I’m sure many of you will recognise it. The magical light on the water and the allure of the backdrop of mountains.
The photo is not mine, and I have manipulated it to fit with Becky’s Squares but I’m sure he will still be pleased to see it. A pink house for Jude, or is it terracotta? Do you know where it is?
Our first evening out in a long, long time. It had to include a stroll across the new bridge. And inevitably a BrightSquare. And what’s one more Six Word Saturday between friends? Have a good weekend everyone!
Walk down any street in the old part of Tavira and you’re bound to meet with a few azulejos. These beautiful tiles have a purpose in life, as well as looking highly decorative. Their function is to maintain temperature inside a building, very useful in keeping houses cool in summer heat and not too cold in the winter. I’ve never lived inside a building clad in azulejos, more’s the pity, so I can’t verify how well they work, but I’d be happy to give it a try. Trouble is, I’d want to be on the outside to admire them. You have to admit, they’re worth a second look.
Translating from the Arabic as ‘small polished stone’, the majority of azulejos are blue and white, and the shapes are a geometric representation of flowers and leaves. When you come upon a burst of colour, often edging a door or a window, it’s a thing of joy.
Wander with me through a street or two. Don’t for a moment imagine that the tiles will all be pristine and immaculate. These homes have seen life, though some are sadly neglected and still others are unoccupied.
Glazed tiles were originally invented in Egypt, but Portugal has a long history of decorating houses in this way. If you’re ever in Lisbon, the Tile Museum is a wonderful place to spend a few hours. More locally you simply have to look around you.
Modern houses often adopt a tile panel in deference to this lovely style. They are a beautiful way to enhance an outdoor space or terrace.
Let’s face it- I simply love showing off my town, even when the images are less than perfect, like this church. Not only is it a particular favourite, but it’s my Last on the Card for the month of March, for Brian. In fact, I’m going overboard on the challenges today. You might have noticed that there are many BrightSquares for Becky, and I’m sure that Ann-Christine won’t mind if I add this to her Lens-Artists selection of delights, You Pick It!
It’s been a difficult Easter for me, in more ways than one, but I’m adopting a spirit of ‘the show must go on’, and I have some lovely walks to share. Join me any time here on Jo’s Monday walk. I’ll try and make you welcome.
Sarah’s walk is pure nostalgia for me, and very beautiful :
Hopefully those chairs will be unstacked and good to go on Monday. It’s been a long haul, but we’re ready! I’m celebrating 400 Six Word Saturdays today, with the help of a few BrightSquares. Wishing you all a happy Easter weekend!