Simanaitis Says

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TOURING NORTHERN ITALIAN LAKES WITH GABRIEL FAURE (BUT WITHOUT THE ACUTE ACCENT)

GABRIEL FAURE WAS a French writer. He is not to be confused (at least now that I’ve researched matters…) with Gabriel Fauré a French composer.

Above, Gabriel Faure, 1877–1962, French poet, novelist, essayist, and travel writer. Below, Gabriel Fauré, 1845–1924, French composer, organist, pianist, and teacher. His Pavane in F-sharp minor, Op. 50, and Dolly Suite, Op. 56, are familiar to many.

I was attracted to Gabriel Faure’s book The Italian Lakes because he seemed to share my love for this region of Northern Italy. Here are tidbits confirming this. 

Setting the Venue. Faure began his book with “The Italian Lakes: magic words! They thrill and transport me, as perhaps no other words can.”

The Italian Lakes, by Gabriel Faure, The Medici Society, 1924.

He then quoted another writer: “ ‘At twenty,’ says Maurice Barrès, ‘we think of famous cities as we think of young women. They trouble our hearts and we hurry to keep tryst with them.’ In Italy, it seems to me, I am always twenty.” 

Lago Maggiore. Faure admired the Borromean Islands nestling in Lake Maggiore: “… especially,” he wrote, “the one named Isola dei Pescatori…. Few corners of Italy are so Italian. At the extremity of the island is the smallest of shady squares, which is always littered with the nets of fishermen: this is the one and only public walk of the place. For those who know and like Milanese cookery, there are first-rate meals to be had at the old Trattoria del Verbano.”

Isola dei Pescatori. This and other images from The Italian Lakes

Indeed, for a more recent visit, see “Albergo Verbano, Isola dei Pescatori” here at SimanaitisSays.

Lago d’Orta. Faure observed, “Just as the cities which are posted on the road between Milan and the Adriatic are forsaken for the superior attractions of Venice, so Lakes Orta and Varese are neglected for the sake of Lake Maggiore….”

Faure said of Lago d’Orta, “Of all the lakes of Lombardy…, I am almost inclined to think it is the most perfect.… The island of San Giulio contains within itself all the various attractions of the Borromean Islands.”

He continued, “The plash of waves on the shore can be listened to for hours together without interruption from the throbbing of motor cars…. Automobilists rarely stray as far as the quay of Orta.” 

Isola San Giulio seen from the village of Orta San Giulio.

Indeed, visiting “Lago d’Orta” today, motorists leave their cars at the Parcheggio and walk down narrow streets to the village.

Image from Google Maps.

Lake Como. Faure wrote, “Como is the most beautiful of Italian lakes. If Maggiore bears the palm of size and majesty, it cannot—apart from the corner which holds the Borromean Islands—compete with Como for charm, harmony and colour.”

Como.

Faure cited another travel authority: “Here, Baedeker, like all the other guides, for that matter, does not know where to turn; there is such a wealth of beauty on both the banks between which the steamers run backwards and forwards, that he is reduced to making a statement, in parallel columns, of the wonders which should not be missed by tourists.”

Rezzonico and Monte Legnone.

“And yet,” Faure wrote, “how charming are these villages, strung like beads on a coral chaplet, along the blue waves! Here is Asquaseria; Rezzonico, at the foot of its old castle, with the peak of Mount Legnone opposite; Cremia, whose fine church is justly proud of an altar-piece by Veronese; Musso and the ruins of the ancient fortress in which Giacomo Medici so long defied the power of the Sforza; prosperous Dongo, whose name reminds us of Stendal’s hero.” 

My montage of Lago de Como.

I cannot say that T C Browne and I matched Faure’s erudition in “T C’s Bellagio Traghetto.” But we surely had one helluva good time. ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2022 

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