MONTE GRONA – THE MENAGGIO REFUGIO

•September 27, 2015 • 1 Comment

DSCN1837My mountain could not be more perfect today and I am ready to complete the hike up to the Menaggio Refugio (www.rifugiomenaggio.eu).

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IMGP0280Trail signs and markers are scattered all up and down the mountain along many varied routes and one can even drive within a short distance. Making the journey up Monte Grona to the Menaggio Rifugio is one of the most popular hikes around the lake for nature lovers of all ages.

IMGP2332Here are a couple of suggestions from the locals. Even though the mountain, (home of Chiarella water) has constantly flowing water, be prepared it can get very hot and humid. Trails are marked but remember erosion does occur so be aware of where you are putting your feet. The mountain has wild boar and you can smell their paths – you may not see any, but I have often heard them, so simply pay attention – but I wouldn’t expect them to do you any harm. And lastly – don’t touch the mushrooms. Let’s get going!

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DSCN1815Finally out of the woods, the view takes my breath away.

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DSCN1816But where is the rifugio? . . . . . I think I see it.

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DSCN1823I see that I am almost there.

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DSCN1842OMG! I made it and it is beyond my imagination. Stunningly gorgeous the mountain has a tremendous positive energy and it is easy to feel in complete harmony.

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DSCN1835The rifugio website has the expected local information, room photos, menus, hours & mountain details.

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DSCN1841I feel like I could stay here forever and just breathe. I take a final shot and head back down, this time taking a few different trails.

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DSCN1868And finally back to Breglia. What a fantastic day! I hope you enjoyed it too!

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Hanging Out in Bella Menaggio – Il Lungomare, Numero Uno

•September 17, 2015 • 1 Comment

IMGP8340I have a fantastic mountain hike planned for us to go on next, but first I need to rest my feet, take off my boots and just hang out in Menaggio and enjoy the promenade. One more reason why Menaggio is the most spectacular village on the lake.

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I feel so much better.

ALTA LARIO – Leonardo and Other Mysteries of The Abbey of Piona

•August 25, 2015 • 1 Comment

DSCN2889When the crowds, traffic and noise start to overwhelm, you can escape to another world situated on the Olgiasca hill at the entrance to what is called Laghetto di Piona, a little south of Colico, on the east side of the lake.

IMGP4985Locals talk about the north end of the lake being the most beautiful. This usually means anywhere north of the very busy tourist quadrangle (Tremezzo-Bellagio-Varenna-Menaggio) located in the middle of the lake.

IMGP4757There are really only two ways to get to L’Abbazia di Piona – car or boat.

IMGP4920IMGP4983The dock here is unlike any other on the lake – there are no taxis, restaurants, or bars to greet you.

IMGP4773The shady old road curves up from the lake and eventually you are welcomed at the serene entrance.

IMGP4779My feelings of what came next are impossible to describe. Everyday, the beauty of Lake Como blows me away. DSCN2888 DSCN2891DSCN2887Many holes exist in the history of this Benedictine Monastery as stated in their own official publications. There is a record of its “probable” existence dating back to the 7th century A.D., and a “possibility” of remitic (sic) rule. Later Piona Abbey was known to have participated in the Cluniac Reformation of the 10-11th centuries. During a 1906 restoration it was discovered (date unknown) that the church has been consecrated to the Blessed Virgin, and yet there was another consecration to St Nicola of Bari, – exact date also unknown.

DSCN2886Straight ahead the bronze portals – 2 leafs, 6 panels of St. Benedetto’s life by sculptor
Giuseppe Abram are calling, – but when you are almost there, the enchanting entrance to the cloister pulls you in.

DSCN2890IMGP4806Abbey publicity states that the quadrangular base evokes the symbolic vigor of the number four: the 4 elements, 4 cardinal points – self contempt, world contempt, love for others, and love for God. Prior Bonaccorso de Gravedona ordered the building of the cloister, verified by 2 tablets (1252 & 1257), and the whole structure is loaded with symbolism.

IMGP4837The single tree and spring exist to represent the Earthly Paradise. Along the walls the old paintings and frescoes are fascinating with their medieval warnings to the monks to not give way to temptation, and other warnings about floods, depictions of the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, and the mystical architectural capitals all around (are any two alike?).

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DSCN2909Even though I have been living in Italy for a while and am familiar with the diversity and contrasts, I was not prepared for this modern art on these walls.

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DSCN2906Lingering here seems a very natural thing to want to do, but finally I remembered the bronze doors and exit to the church.

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IMGP4848It is very dark inside.

DSCN3872The word “probably” is used a lot while attempting to identify a timeline when all the various modifications took place. Nothing seems 100% definite when trying to catalog a true history of the Piona Abbey.

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IMGP4849 It was the 1906 restoration that uncovered these old frescoes. The stain glass in the church is obviously new (1998) and doesn’t seem to fit.

DSCN2895It was restoration of The Last Supper that lead us to the mystery of Leonardo and the background for his painting. It is common knowledge that Leonardo spent a great deal of time at the lake and that the background for the Mona Lisa is Lake Como. But it was not until 2014, when I met Prof. Ernesto Solari, (Art Teacher, Art Historian, and Researcher of Esoteric Symbols and Neoplatonist Alchemy) at his one-man show in Como, that I learned about his solving the mystery of the location of the painting.

DSCN0305When the restoration of The Last Supper had been completed, the colors and detail indicated to Solari that Lake Como, the Bell Tower (restyled in the 1700s) & the Piona Abbey are the background featured directly behind Christ. Solari further discovered the many trips Leonardo made to the Piona Abbey, and in fact, Leonardo had rented a home on a hill above the abbey giving him a perspective exactly as was painted. An exhibit to support the professor’s theory is scheduled to take place in 2019 in Como. I cannot find reason to disagree with the professor. It seems every day there is something truly special to learn about this lake. Including this: the monks spend a part of the day devoted to labor and for them this means the making of honey, cosmetic creams, officinal herbs, and their fantastic elixirs/liquors designed to repair the digestive system, neuro-muscular problems and corrective drinks that soothe the pain of the teeth.

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IMGP4886I can vouch for nearly everything in this store. If you got here by car – load up; if you got here by boat, buy as much as you can carry. You will not be disappointed. Outside there is a little snack bar where you can buy a little elixir to sip while wandering the remainder of this fantastical place.

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IMGP4867I had another amazing day at this lake. I hope you enjoyed the trip.

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The Sacro Monte di Ossuccio & the Santuario Madonna Del Soccorso

•August 1, 2015 • Leave a Comment

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Living here, I have the luxury of being able to wait out the storms, heat & humidity for a perfect day for hiking. The weather is very unpredictable but with a bright, clear morning I knew it was time to make the hike up the Sacred Mount of Ossuccio, a UNESCO Heritage Site.

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monti1The Sacro Monte di Ossuccio and Santuario are located above the medieval village of Ossuccio on the western shore of the lake, about a half-hour drive north of Como City. The trail that winds around the fourteen cappellas is more than just another walk up a mountain and is a popular day trip for locals.

sign1sign2 Once you near Ossuccio, there are plenty of signs that point the way.
A tiny sign on an old stone stairway, near the main highway, is where I started. I love walking through the medieval sections of the lake villages.

DSCN4214DSCN4216DSCN4221Finally the trail opens up and it becomes easy to see why this site is so special.

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The 14 baroque temples were constructed between 1635 & 1710. Each are distinctively unique.

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IMGP4586If you are lucky, you might find an opening large enough to have an unobstructed view for you & your camera.  

IMGP4508I heard about the cappellas from friends. I didn’t bother to do any research and I had no idea what to expect when I peeked in. 

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DSCN4245The brightly painted, life size statues & frescoes were a complete surprise. Originally created by the sculptor Agostino di Morbio (1620-1706) and the stucco decorators of the Intelvese School, these plaster and terra-cotta statues continue to be maintained by local artists. Along the way, you will see some interiors under renovation.  

IMGP4519As expected, the views (looking north to south) are spectacular!

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IMGP4528Arriving at the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Soccorso (dates back to the early 1500s) a different spiritual mood from the cappellas presents itself.

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IMGP4537Outside, the Bar and Trattoria del Santuario is a peaceful, colorful setting where the monks offer a complete menu of delicious traditional food.

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DSCN4259Deciding to take a different way down, I pass by olive orchards & streams, down these stairs through a centuries old Italian hamlet.

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DSCN4276Hope you enjoyed the trip. It could not have been more perfect for me.

A Few Lake Shots

•August 30, 2014 • 1 Comment

My apologies for taking such a long break from the sharing of my adventures around the lake.  To get back on track, I am posting a few views.  Hope you enjoy, and come back soon for some local legends and mysteries!

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Travel Quote – HENRY MILLER

•May 11, 2014 • 1 Comment

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“To travel about in Europe is a treat for an American because it is like entering a honeycomb after a long sojourn in the open desert. At every step one is made aware of the continuous, persistent, indefatigable efforts of this creature called man. It cries out from architecture, paving blocks, monuments, factories, museums, libraries, schools, churches, fortresses, from everything one looks at or touches or senses directly or indirectly. It makes itself felt even in the air one breathes.”

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CRISTINA

CRISTINA – Keeper of all things historical for over 20 years in Coltura. 

My Lecco

•May 2, 2014 • 1 Comment

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When I ask visitors if they have been to Lecco, the usual reply is, “Why should I go there? It’s so industrial.” Really? Let us take a look.  Lecco is easy to get to by either train, bus, car or boat. Your first trip there must be by boat. It is the most dramatic & beautiful of any trip on the lake. Instantly, as the boat rounds the Bellagio promontory, you will see what I mean. Heading down the Lecco branch, the landscape, colors and mood are different from anywhere on the lake.

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The mountains are more jagged,

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The cafes and villages appear nearly empty, while at the same time, the Como branch is swarming with tourists. You will still see fantastic lakefront villas.

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Entering the harbor, it would seem impossible for the setting to become more gorgeous, but looking around, it does.

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The harbor area is stunning.

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Lecco’s passionate, war and peace monument is situated in this area,

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and is the most dramatic of any monument around the lake.

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All Italians are familiar with Alessandro Manzoni’s classic novel, The Betrothed (Promessi Sposi), as it is required reading. Lecco and the Adda River are the featured setting for this romantic masterpiece.

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The shots below were taken from along the Adda River.

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Very dreamy.

Here are a few parting shots to end this blogger’s love affair with Lecco: It is also a serious water sports destination for any kind of wind anything, & is a location for world-class rowing competitions, – see viewing stadium below;

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More beautiful sculptures, old buildings, really nice shopping & an excellent, full-service train station complete what goes on in Lecco. I like it there.

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