Friday, April 30, 2010

Trip to Switzerland 2010 - Locarno Lake Maggiore

Friday 23 April

10:30 Locarno express lake ship to Isola Madre 11:47
14:20 Isola Madre lake ship to Isola Bella 14:40
16:20 Isola Bella express lake ship to Locarno 17:40

Click above to see a slide show of pictures from Lake Maggiore
The Italian seamen had scheduled a strike for today but called it off at the last minute, possibly because of the weather which was overcast, poor visibility and raining. The trip out was carried out on time stopping at several locations on the way. Some of the ports had interesting stands of houses painted in many different colors – gray, yellow, blue, buff. light green and orange. The swifts were diving and swooping over the water to catch their food. In some places the cloud was down to building level but it didn't stop the mallards, coots or grebes from doing their normal thing.

Mary at Isola Madre
The gardens on Isola Madre are beautiful. Some of the blossoms had been brought down by the rain but even so the rhododendrons, magnolia and wisteria were beautiful. There were many exotic birds with beautiful plumage including a lot of white peacocks and peahens and golden pheasants. The house itself was reasonably interesting although several of the rooms were dull and dingy. The marionettes were interesting and the dining room was excellent. The marble statue of a naked man holding up the corps of a man he had just killed with his entrails spewing out as in particularly bad taste. We had sandwich and coffee at a small cafe and then went around to the embarcadero where we found a bar. I negotiated language with the girl and we settled on Spanish although after wards I found out she spoke excellent English! We had a spritz with Prosecco with Aperol, soda water, ice and a slice of orange. We had small bowls of olives and chips on the side.
Isola Bella
A regular boat took us to Isola Bella (the express boat was a hydrofoil). Isola Bella is devoted almost entirely to the castle and there is a row of tourist shops and restaurants close to the landing. The castle was very well preserved. The main hall has a very high ceiling with three or four rounds of balconies. The plaster moldings have been very well restored. The grotto is weird – it has an ocean theme. The gardens have a lot of white peacocks and peahens who seem to delight in taking up positions on statues where they make excellent photographic subjects.. The least said about the tourist shops the better.

I devoted the ride back to Locarno to the Marriage of Figaro

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