Italy – Ciao Italia!

In September of 2009 I traveled in the Lake Region of Northern Italy.  It’s a lovely time to visit…while officially part of the peak tourist season, most Europeans are back to work and the weather is sunny and comfortably warm.  Italy is one of my favorite countries:  the vistas, the quality of light, the colors, and the easy-going people all make for a hard-to-beat experience.  Even the language has round, happy sounds.  I mastered some basic phrases (and I am foreign language challenged!), which helped in the countryside where fewer people spoke English.

The first lake we visited was Lake Orta (northwest of Milan).  This is off the beaten track, and the charming village had artisan shops on stone paved, winding streets with views of an idyllic island.  I posed for this photo because the textured slate roof and bougainvillea vine attracted me (image at left).

An example of an inspiring architectural detail was found in Asolo, a hilltop town with centuries-old buildings with balconies.  I was captivated by different railing details (image at right).  This is in contrast to Juliet’s balcony in Verona, which has stone details that do not lend themselves to current construction techniques or costs.

Next on my itinerary was touring the Palladian villas.  Even if you’ve never heard of the Venetian architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580), you’ve probably heard of Palladian windows (half-circle, arched windows).  I was inspired by the lovely arcade at the Villa Emo at Franzolo (image at left).  Back in New Jersey, we incorporated a series of stone arched openings (below a deck) at the walk-out basement of a new home in Morris County.

Also at Villa Emo, a beautiful curving open back-staircase (image above-left) inspired a more straight-forward open scissor-staircase (image above-right) connecting a basement, first floor, second floor, and attic of a new home just constructed this year in Essex County.

After a jaunt to Venice, I stopped for two days at Lake Como.  My husband and I took a day trip to Bellagio (not the casino in Vegas…the real thing!), which is an enchanted island with very expensive boutiques.  On the way back, we saw a breathtaking villa located on a peninsula…I made several 8×10 prints of this photo for friends.  Only later did I find out that this villa (image at right) belongs to the actor, George Clooney.  No wonder he’s such an eligible bachelor.

Travel tip: When you pack your bags for travel, remember to bring along your camera and an expanded awareness of detail.  Have fun.

Published: December 2009

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