Tuesday, July 12, 2011

June in Padova & Stresa

A companion page to Verona finishes up our Photos of the Day from Italy.

On one of the last few days we passed through Padova to see the Basilica of St. Anthony and the Scrovegni Chapel filled with Giotto's frescoes. I have to admit that talk of frescoes usually makes me glaze over, just like pre-Renaissance art...how many Madonnas and Child can one look at without being bored to death?? But these Giotto frescoes were superb! Preserved and brilliant, these very early 14th century panels read like a brilliantly colored graphic novel. Of course, no pictures were allowed, and I couldn't choose a favorite, so I didn't even buy a postcard. But I have the memory!  A third item on our Padova blitz agenda was a visit to the market, but whether because of the light rain or because it was apparently a feast day, there were only a smattering of merchants in the square.  One selling fresh and beautiful flowers, including huge sunflowers, caught my attention and was the featured photo of the day.

Then we arrived in Stresa, where the plan was to spend a few restful days before heading into Switzerland and increasing the size of our party.  It was the perfect place to relax!  The very first thing I noticed, as we started our walk downhill (yes, we like downhill walks!), was that the sidewalks were modernly paved.  We'd spent nearly 2 weeks rumbling over ancient stone streets and cobbles, so the smoothness was the first breath of fresh air.  The next thing I noticed was the hydrangeas.  Beautiful hydrangeas in all colors, blossoms the size of my head.  This added to the very Victorian feel to this town, highly influenced as a stopover on British grand tours of the continent.

And then there was the lake, the beautiful Lake Maggiore, dotted with lovely little fairy-tale islands.  Our adorable hotel in the thick of old town was also a pleasure.  We set off early on that first full day to explore the islands using the efficient lake boat services.  The air was warm but cooled by the water, the sky was crystal clear, and off the back of the boat, with the Italian flag waving in the breeze, we could see the snow-capped mountains of the Alps in the distance.  It was a perfect moment!

June Padova Stresa

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