Unreliable and possibly off-topic


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Lago Maggiore

No photos for this blog, because my phone camera died last month in a rainstorm up Cairnpapple Hill, after which R. and I schmoozed the history student for toilet priviliges after a long drive. That's another story...

Last week I spent a few days in Ascona at the north end of Lake Maggiore (Swiss side) blagging along on R.'s attendance at a conference at Monte Verita. Monte Verita was a famous Bauhaus hotel/ artist colony in the 1930s, but now a state-owned conference venue. My welcome was far from its anarchist roots. After travelling for 14 hrs, I arrived to hear that "R. is not staying here and she is in a single room" and basically could I kindly fuck off and die.

But I didn't, instead phoning and finding R. in an eccentric hotel down the hill with a weird juxtaposition of formal German furniture, crucified Jesuses, Heironymus Bosch prints, crude and unattractive 70s ceramic nudes scuptures, taxidermic jays in an outside birdhouse, a stuffed egret inside and crude rainbow-coloured LSD-influenced 1970s paintings-as-therapy on many walls. We achieved enormous amusement that one such in the reception atrium featured a spider with 6 legs (!). I dared R. to ask more about the artist from the receptionist, who started laughing too behind her Swiss veneer, and imparted that the artists was a female relative of the owner.

Such idiosyncrasy was a real pleasure. So R. and I hung out when she wasn't on conference duty, learned the buses, checked out the porto, the local cemetery and the botanic garden on the larger Isola Brissola (fantastico!).

R. paid ridiculous money to hire a car on the Weds so we could together see the gardens at Villa Taranto (Italiano side). She saw these at 9 yrs old, and had wanted to revisit ever since. This garden started by a Capt Neil McEarcharn from Galloway. God knows what evil gave him the money to institute this garden, but it's a piece of heaven on earth with trees and shrubs from 4 continents. R. and I spent 5 hrs there daundering, amazing at the Dahlia garden, the hawk moths and dragonflies, smelling the shrubs, getting prickled by the Nymphaceae blooms and arguing over genus names- close to heaven by our norms. On the way back R. had the unenviable task of driving the narrow Lago road back to Switzerland with crayzee Italian drivers comin' at us at every bend, then up the mountainside to an osteria for a relatively cheap but fantastically flavourful meal over the waterfalls at Santa Ana above Cannebio. I wish I had photos and audio to impart...