I’m going to Como, Italy, for a week.
Don’t ask. I don’t believe it either. And I can’t justify it.
My husband is going there for work, and I have other reasons, more pleasant, the main one revolving around a person I haven’t seen in 15 or more years and would very much like to see again. I know I have been there before, but I can’t remember a thing about it.
So a moment ago I dug into my old letters. Yeah – you know, those things we used to write on paper and stick in an envelope with a stamp on front. This one was written back in 1982, to my mother who was then aged 79 or so.
And I read:
Locarno, March 26th.
We* left Venice under beautiful blue skies and a low haze that obscured everything, and we arrived in Locarno in exactly the same conditions. It’s warm and sunny but one can’t see the scenery!
We stopped for a few hours in Milan to see the Last Supper, which was a great disappointment. I would suggest that people confine themselves to reproductions in art books, which show more detail and colour than we could see! There was enough to show a hint of genius in the drawing and composition – but none whatsoever of the colour, as it is uniformly dull. One third of it was under restoration.
We then caught the underground to see the Cathedral – a magnificently over-decorated pile of stone set in a square layered with pigeons. It has everything a cathedral should: towers and tracery, statues galore, flying buttresses, bronze doors – the whole works. And why not; they’ve been at it since 1385 and the finishing touches were made only a few years ago. We went up a lift to the roof and walked all over in a forest of statues and gargoyles and tracery, actually strolling down the centre of the nave, which is roofed with stone.
Afterwards we took a train to Locarno, passing through Como and Lugano on the way. The haze continued so we didn’t see that much of the Italian lake district. Como, surrounded by steep slopes, was mainly memorable for its profusion of chimney pots; Lugano was prettier with water as still as painted glass, rippling only where ducks and swans broke the surface and marred the reflections…
Right. Now I know why I don’t remember much.
*The “we” is my sister and myself on what was to be (we thought) our sole “Grand Tour” of Europe. Little did I know I would go back there to live one day.