Thursday, December 3, 2015

Stresa, Lake Maggiore.& Modern Italian Painting.

Giorgio De Chirico.
Antigone, 1926

Stresa, Italian Alps & Modern Italian Painting.

One of the great surprises of our stay in Stresa on the shore of lake Maggiore in the Italian Alp was the discovery of a very fine art gallery. Not only did it stock the usual sweet Italian painting and a fine selection of art glass and silver, but some paintings by modern Italian masters.

A fine example of Giorgio De Chirico’s painting titled ‘Antigone’ 1926, from   Chirico better periods the 1920s. As many of you know de Chirico is best associated with Surrealism, but he was the originator of an art movement called Metaphysical Painting, a style of imagery were random object are arranged in a composition stripped of their true meaning. This approach to art of course was adopted by the Surrealist movement.

Another surprise in this lakeside gallery was a work by Giacomo Bella, one of the leading exponent of Italian Futurism. A movement interested in depicting aspects of modern industrialized life. That Futurism, Italy’s contribution to modern art is still freely available was surprising.

Stresa as an alpine tourist town on the shores of Lake Maggiore is quite delightful to both the eye and pocket. There are several grand hotels around the lake shore, but plenty of good budget hotels and backpackers, many with views across the lake. Taken back by first impressions we decided to stay a few days to explore some of the small villages and towns scatted around the lake’s edge. One discovery was the Botanic Garden of Villa Taranto established by Captain Neil McEacharn in the 1930s. He was a Scottish nobleman of considerable wealth and over the years collected over 20,000 trees and shrubs from all over the world. Now over ninety years old the gardens offer wonderful examples of unusual and exotic trees and shrubs.

Another worthwhile outing is the bus trip up to the top of the mountain raising behind the town to visit the Alpine Garden, a community project were they collect various alpine trees and plants from around the world. There are also visits to the islands such as Isola Bell and its castle or palace.

The town itself is very picturesque, full of earth coloured building of a few stories height each in perfect harmony with its neighbour and there is plenty to do boating, swimming if you like cold water and just sitting admiring the view.