For me, the second day in the resort town of Stresa, Italy unfolded in flashes of detail; a tiny green fern growing out of a crack in the wall, a clear glass of grappa, two girls in bikinis playing with dogs on the beach. A train carried us through the mountains, across the border north into Locarno, Switzerland for lunch. In this city at the north end of Lake Maggiore, I lingered over a cappuccino and chocolate mousse. Delectable. My colleague Laura Garrison ordered something the chef literally whipped up in a shiny copper bowl. We couldn’t remember the name of it, but it was so yummy that we are still talking about “The Frothy Swiss Thing.”
On our return trip to Stresa, we learned about local food and culture from our excellent guide, Tracy Alleyne. Italians value daily siestas, she said, evening walks, and frequent breaks for caffeinated drinks. I think I could fit right in. We also learned that seventy percent of Italy is mountainous, so you see whitewashed villas and stone towers perched in dramatic, unexpected places.
Everyone in the WXXI Travel Club seems in high spirits, despite a few minor set-backs. One person was (briefly) sick, another got a little lost, and a few admitted to actually falling asleep during a chamber music concert. (Note to violinists: opening your performance with a forty-minute unaccompanied Bach sonata is not such a hot idea!) The recurring topic of conversation is Beauty. Nature and artifice in perfect harmony. One traveler said she was struck by the juxtaposition of palm trees on the beach and snow on a distant mountaintop.
On our last night in Stresa, we wandered through the cobblestone streets and lakeside promenade. Some sat and sipped martini bianco. Church bells rang. A black bird with a yellow beak sang its head off. Across the water, Isola Bella lit up, an island of elegant fire.