Monday, December 5, 2011

The Eternal City

Rome was great.
Walked up the Via Giulia, a gaslight-lined street featuring an archway designed by Michaelangelo. The road was built for the popes to travel up and down
along the Tiber from St Peter's. Wandered around the Trastevere and visited Santa Maria in Trastevere with its fabulous 13th century mosaics by Pietro Cavallini. Dinner in a small Osteria near the Piazza Farnese called La Quercia, which was recommended by our hotel, the Ponte Sisto.

Day two- visit to the Contarelli Chapel with its three fantastic Caravaggios depicting scenes from the life of Saint Mathew. Next up was the Santa Maria sopra Minerva, a beautiful gothic basilica which has a Michaelangelo sculpture just to the left of the altar. There are also some stunning 15th century frescoes by Filippino Lippi. After a brief visit to the Pantheon which is around the corner, we viewed the courtyard of Rome's oldest university and then strolled around the atmospheric Ghetto district where we had lunch in a small trattoria. That night we ate at one of Rome's most famous pizzarias, called Da Poeta. The queue was long, I gather it always is! but it was fun to try genuine Roman pizza.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Farewell to Arms

I read Farewell to Arms while in College in Connecticut. I had an enthusisatic English professor who was such a fan of Hemingway that he named his daughter Ashley after a character in the Sun Also Rises.

Re-reading it now is even more fun, because I now have first-hand knowledge of many of the placenames.
For example,
'I got drunk and slept until past Vicenza'-(Clare and I had a wonderful stay in the beautiful city of Palladio last year.)
The picture is from Stresa, with a monument to the famous Italian Alpine Regiment in the background.
Stresa features in A Farewell to Arms, and the hotel where Hemingway stayed is still there on the Lago di Maggiore lakeside.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A favourite poem.

Tell Me a Story

Long ago, in Kentucky, I, a boy, stood
By a dirt road, in first dark, and heard
The great geese hoot northward.

I could not see them, there being no moon
And the stars sparse.I heard them.

I did not know what was happening in my heart.

It was the season before the elderberry blooms,
Therefore they were going north.

The sound was passing northward.

Robert Penn Warren

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Review of Hotel Cannero on Lake Maggiore

What a welcome! We stepped off the boat from Stresa, and the ever-attentive Deborah from reception was on the stairs of the hotel to take our bags and show us to our rooms. At reception Samuele told us 'we love it when people arrive by boat' so we felt like elegant 19th century travelers. Very beautiful room with parquet floors and balcony with dreamy views of lake and mountains. Our bedroom door opened out not into a cramped hallway, but on to an atmospheric high-ceiling space painted like all of the hotel, in soft pastel colours.

The swimming pool is great, when doing the backstroke, you can look up at the mountains!
Both the restaurant and the cafe with dining tables overlooking Lake Maggiore, are excellent. If you are not staying half-board, I can strongly recommend Trattoria Gino and Gaby up above in the town of Cannero.

Every evening from 5-6 you can visit the atmospheric Cantina and Giuliana will help you choose a wine to match and complement your evening meal. If the wine you are interested in is not 'on tasting' she is quite likely to grab a bottle and open it so that you can have a taste.
Finally, the breakfast is lovely, and the buffet selection is kept fresh right up until ten o'clock. How can you improve on near-perfection? (Freshly squeezed orange juice would do the trick.)
I would recommend a day-trip to nearby Cannobio further up the lake. It is also an attractive lake town with good shopping and a wonderful promenade where you can sit and have a refreshing drink while waiting for your ferry to take you back to Cannero. Incidentally, it is possible to have a great and varied lake holiday without the use of a car.

In summary, Hotel Cannero is an idyllic place to relax in stunningly beautiful surroundings, with attentive and friendly staff looking after your needs. We have stayed in many wonderful Italian hotels over the years, and this one truly is as good as it gets.