You are the trip I did not take, you are the pearls I could not buy, you are my blue Italian lake, you are my piece of foreign sky. –Anne Campbell
We left Portugal with a general direction in mind but have learned over the course of the past four years traveling to remain detached to the outcome of our best-laid plans. We had some editorial assignments in the Italian Lakes Region; a region we avoided in our previous travels thinking it would be too close to the beaten path. What we found was the kind of beauty, natural and man-made, that stunned us into silence.
Having been away from Italy for two years, the Italian Lakes proved to be the perfect place to transition. It wasn’t the big sites that eased us back into Italian life. Although the villas of Varenna and Bellagio and the castles in Bellinzona and Como were memorable, what mesmerized us were the walks. We traipsed through endless pine forests, carpeted in chestnuts, only to come out of the trees on top of the world. The sapphire blue lakes were at our feet cloaked by bright glacial peaks framing the valley.
We will forever remember a bowl of steaming soup in a cobbled trattoria, a village church bell ringing in the hour, with crisp leaves crumbling, as we took one step at a time through this storied region. The glamour and exclusivity did nothing to diminish the raw and rugged natural splendor.
“This lake exceeds anything I ever beheld in beauty,” declared Percy Bysshe Shelley of Lake Como in 1818
Of a hike near the lake, Shelley penned “broken by the woody rocks into a thousand channels to the lake … glens filled with the flashing light of the waterfalls.”
“A lake as beautiful as the beginning of creation,” D.H Lawrence wrote of Lake Garda
“When you write the story of two happy lovers, let the story be set on the banks of Lake Como.” -Franz Liszt
“If you don’t drink coffee, I am suspicious of your character and will not invite you to my Italian lake home.” -George Clooney
“One can’t describe the beauty of the Italian lakes, nor would one try if one could,” wrote Henry James
What we have learned by watching autumn bloom is that we are ready for our next chapter. We are restored and prepared for whatever comes next … And we are grateful to the autumn for “No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face.” John Donne, The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose