Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Visiting the lakes of N. Italy and S. Switzerland

Fotini Eleftheriadou
Writes from Athens, Greece
View her websites : Fotini's Site & Fotini's Space

I hope you will enjoy this post on the lakes that Italy and Switzerland shares, Lago Como and Lago Majore. I chose this area to spend the days around the New Year's Eve and start a new and very promising year for me.

I decided to travel with my aunt, Yiota, by ship in Ancona, Italy and continue my trip by bus until Milano which was my base for this exploration. I started my exploration from the Lake Como and the city of Como.

Lake Como is a lake of glacial origin in Lombardy, Italy . It has an area of 146 km², making it the third largest lake in Italy, after Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore. At over 400 m (1320 ft) deep it is one of the deepest lakes in Europe and the bottom of the lake is more than 200 metres (656 ft) below sea-level.

The lake is shaped much like the character “Y”. The northern branch begins at the town of Colico, while the towns of Como and Lecco sit at the ends of the southwestern and southeastern branches respectively. The small towns of Bellagio, Menaggio and Varenna are situated at the intersection of the three branches of the lake: a triangular boat service operates between them.

Lake Como is fed in large part by the Adda River, which enters the lake near Colico and flows out at Lecco. This geological conformation makes the southwestern branch a dead end, and so Como, unlike Lecco, is often flooded.

The mountainous pre-alpine territory between the two southern arms of the lake—between Como, Bellagio and Lecco —is known as the Larian Triangle, or Triangolo lariano . The source of the river Lambro is here. At the centre of the triangle, the town of Canzo is the seat of the Comunità montana del Triangolo Lariano , an association of the 31 municipalities which represent the 71,000 inhabitants of the area.

The lake's name in Latin is Larius , Italianized as Lario, but this name is rarely used; it is usually called Lago di Como (literally " Lake of Como "). In guidebooks the lake may be variously described as " Lake Como ", " Lake of Como ", or " Como Lake ." The lake's name comes from the town of Como, known to the Romans as Comum.While the town of Como is referred to as " Como" the lake itself is never referred to solely by this name. (This is not true of another lake in Italy , Lake Garda , where "Garda" may refer to either a town on its shores, or the lake).
Duomo (cathedral), begun in 1396 on the site of the previous Romanesque church of Santa Maria Maggiore. The façade was built in 1457, with the characteristic rose window and a portal flanked by two Renaissance statues of the famous Comaschi Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger. The construction was finished in 1740.

The interior is on the Latin cross plan, with Gothic nave and two aisles divided by pilasters, while the transept wing and the relative apses are from the Renaissance age. It includes a carved 16th century choir and tapestries on cartoons by Giuseppe Arcimboldi. The dome is a rococo structure by Filippo Juvarra. Other artworks include 16th-17th century tapestries and 16th Century paintings by Bernardino Luini and Gaudenzio Ferrari.

Time for a cruise in the lake of Como... Having the most amazing Italian guide I really enjoyed this cruise.

Lake Como is a popular tourist destination. It is a venue for sailing , windsurfing and kitesurfing. In 1818 Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote to Thomas Love Peacock : “This lake exceeds anything I ever beheld in beauty, with the exception of the arbutus islands of Killarney. It is long and narrow, and has the appearance of a mighty river winding among the mountains and the forests”.

The lake is well-known for the attractive villas which have been built here since Pliny the Younger constructed the Comedia and the Tragedia. Many have admirable gardens which benefit from the mild climate induced by the stabilising presence of 22.5 km³ of lake water and are able to include tropical as well as temperate plants.

My next stop was Lugano, a lakeside city in Ticino, the Italian-speaking part of southern Switzerland. Part of a temperate micro-climate, Lugano offers palm trees, picturesque boulevards, stunning views of the lake and the Alps, and plenty of opportunity for outdoor and indoor activities. Lugano also makes a good base for visiting other cities and sites in the area. The city is a pleasant place to relax in the summertime and is only half an hour away from Lake Como.

Lugano lies in a bay on the northern side of Lake Lugano, surrounded by numerous mountains offering splendid viewpoints. The traffic-free historic town centre, the numerous buildings in Italianate Lombardy style, the exclusive museums, the mountains, lake and a packed calendar of events all invite visitors to see the sights, soak up the atmosphere – and enjoy "dolce far niente". Thanks to its mild climate, Lugano is a popular tourist destination in the spring when the camellias are in bloom.

Lugano, the largest town in the holiday region of Ticino, is not only Switzerland's third most important financial centre and a conference, banking and business centre, but also a town of parks and flowers, villas and sacred buildings. With Mediterranean flair, Lugano offers all the advantages of a world-class city, combined with the cachet of a small town.

Lugano is small enough to get around on foot, and many of the streets are pedestrian-only, but the hills above the lakefront are very steep so the bus or the funicular from the center of town might be a better option on the way up to the train station if you have a lot of bags. Taxis can be found on the main roads. Ferries and Funiculars are great options for seeing the views.

Belvedere Park – the lakeside promenade is fringed by trees and lush flower-beds. The park is right beside the footpath which goes along the side of the lake as far as Paradiso.
Monte Brè (925 m) – Lugano's closest mountain can be reached by funicular railway from Cassarate on the outskirts of Lugano. Wonderful panorama of the town, lake and mountains, stretching right over the border into Italy.
Monte San Salvatore (912 m) – from the top of the "sugarloaf" (reached by funicular railway from Lugano-Paradiso) you can walk down the panoramic footpath to Carona and then on to Morcote.
San Lorenzo Cathedral – set above the Old Town , it is worth a visit with its facade in the Lombardy Renaissance style, and countless frescoes and valuable Baroque artefacts inside.
Church of Santa Maria degli Angioli - in this former monastery church, built about 1500, are fine frescoes by the masters of the Renaissance.
Hesse Museum in Montagnola – small, intimate museum for the writer and adopted son of Ticino, Hermann Hesse, who lived and wrote in southern Switzerland for at least half a century.

The town centre with its Mediterranean-style squares and arcades, and numerous parks with sub-tropical plants such as the Parco Civico on the shores of the lake invite you to laze around, enjoying the atmosphere. By the lakeside promenade are the Belvedere Gardens , where the parkland boasts not only camellias and magnolias but also countless sub-tropical plants and modern works of art.

After Lake Lugano, it is now the time for the famous Lago Majore. I traveled around this lake during the first day of the new year. It is one of the best ways to spend this day. A new year enters in our life and it is a day that we need to be in a beautiful place. I celebrated the entrance of 2009 having the beauty of the lake around me.

Lake Maggiore (in Italian : Lago Maggiore) is the most westerly of the three large prealpine lakes of Italy and the second largest after Lake Garda .

It has a surface area of about 213 km², a maximum length of 54 km and, at its widest, is 12 km. The lake basin has tectonic-glacial origins and its volume is 37 km³. Its main tributaries are the Ticino, the Maggia, the Toce (by which it receives the outflow of Lake Orta ) and the Tresa (which is the sole emissary of Lake Lugano). The rivers Verzasca, Giona, and Cannobino also flow into the lake. Its outlet is the Ticino which, in turn, joins the river Po just south-east of Pavia.

The lake's jagged banks are surrounded by the Prealps of Piedmont and Lombardy . The western bank is in Piedmont (provinces of Novara and Province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola) and the eastern in Lombardy (province of Varese), whereas the most northerly section extends thirteen kilometres into Switzerland, where it constitutes the lowest point above sea-level in that entire country.

The climate is mild in both summer and winter, producing Mediterranean vegetation, with beautiful gardens growing rare and exotic plants. Well-known gardens include those of the Isola Madre, Isola Bella and the Isole di Brissago, that of the Villa Taranto in Verbania, and the Alpinia botanical garden above Stresa.We had the time and we decided to enjoy a small cruise in Lago Majore visiting the two most important islands, the Isola Bella and the Isola dei Pescatori.

Isola Bella is one of the Borromean Islands of Lago Maggiore in north Italy. The island is situated in the Borromean Gulf 400 meters from the lakeside town of Stresa. Isola Bella is 320 meters long by 400 meters wide and is entirely occupied by the Palazzo Borromeo and its Italianate garden.

Isola Bella is a popular tourist attraction, with a regular ferry service from Stresa, Baveno, Pallanza and Intra. It plays host to the annual Stresa music festival.

Our next stop of our small cruise was Isola dei Pescatori (lit. Fishermen's Island), an island of Lago Maggiore. As the most northerly of the three principal Borromean Islands it is also known as Isola Superiore and, with a population of about 50, it is the only one to be inhabited all year round. Unlike Isola Bella and Isola Madre, the island no longer belongs to the Borromeo.

The island is about 350 meters long by 100 meters wide. A narrow street running along its spine is joined by cobbled alleys to the promenade which encircles the island. The promenade is frequently flooded and the houses built against it are constructed to allow for this.

While the traditional occupation of fishing still exists—local restaurants providing a ready market for the fish—tourism has become central to the economic life of the island as its picturesque charms have made Isola dei Pescatori a popular destination: particularly for day-trippers but also for more extended visits. In addition to the hotel(s), restaurants and gift-shops there are boutiques selling craft products.

The church of San Vittore (Victor the Moor) retains traces of an ancient chapel which was probably constructed for the monks of Scozzòla (an abbey of San Donato di Sesto Calende founded by Liutardo, bishop of Pavia, in the mid ninth century. The church was previously dedicated to S. Gangolfo (Gangulphus), whose veneration is linked with the Abbey of San Donato.

When you are at the islands you have a nice view of Streza which is a small town of about 5,000 inhabitants on the shores of the Lago (Lake) Maggiore and situated on the road and rail routes to the Simplon pass in the region of Piedmont in Italy. Since the early 20th century, the main source of income has been the tourist trade. Like other locations on Lago Maggiore, it benefits from spectacular views as well as areas of historical and architectural interest.

Time for Locarno now, the capital of the Locarno district , located on the northern tip of Lake Maggiore ( Lago Maggiore ) in the Swiss canton of Ticino, close to Ascona at the feet of the Alps. It has a population of about 15,000 (60'000 for the urban area including Ascona ). The official language of Locarno is Italian . It is the 74th biggest city in Switzerland by population.

An important film festival, the Festival Internazionale del Cinema di Locarno, takes place every year in August in the Piazza Grande .The Locarno Treaties were negotiated here in 1925.In January 2004, the Italian historian Marino Vigano speculated that Locarno 's castle may have been designed by Leonardo da Vinci.

This characterful old town enjoys the most glorious of locations, on a broad sweeping curve of a bay in the lake, and also clocks up the most sunshine hours of anywhere in Switzerland. The arcades and piazzas of the town centre are overlooked by subtropical gardens of palms, camellias, bougainvillea, cypress, oleanders and magnolias, which flourish on the lakeside promenades and cover the wooded slopes which crowd in above the town centre.

Locarno slumbered under Swiss occupation after 1503, but with independence in the nineteenth century it found its feet as the most elegant of the country's lakeside resorts. In 1925 its backdrop of Belle Epoque hotels and piazza cafés served as the setting for the Treaty of Locarno, signed by the European powers in a failed effort to secure peace following World War I.

The seeds planted at Locarno exploded into war again in 1939, but the town went from strength to strength during the 1950s and after, growing in chic-ness year on year. These days, Locarno focuses all its considerable resources on tourism, and draws in two very different sets of customers: one, from the German-speaking north, arrive to test out their hiking boots, while the other, from fog- and smog-bound Milan come to test out their sunglasses.

The cobbled alleys of Locarno 's Old Town, lined with Renaissance facades, can get entirely overrun with the rich and wannabe-famous on summer weekends, yet still – in the midst of the hubbub – the place manages to retain its sun-drenched cool.

The first day of the new year was a happy day for Locarno. A big reception at the centre of the town with a happy band and plenty of food and champagne offered a huge smile at the faces of the people who celebrated the New Year. I hope you enjoyed my travel to the North Italy and South Switzerland and you l have plenty of information now to plan a trip there.

Η Φωτεινή Ελευθεριάδου
Γράφει από την Αθήνα
Δείτε τις ιστοσελίδες της: Fotini's Site & Fotini's Space

Ελπίζω ότι θα απολαύσετε το νέο μου κείμενο για τις λίμνες Lago Como και Lago Majore, που μοιράζονται η Ιταλία και η Ελβετία. Επέλεξα την περιοχή αυτή για να περάσω τις γιορτινές ημέρες πριν την Πρωτοχρονιά και να αρχίσει μια νέα και ελπιδοφόρα χρονιά για μένα. Αποφάσισα να ταξιδέψω με την θεία μου, Γιώτα, με πλοίο μέχρι την Ανκόνα, της Ιταλίας και να συνεχίσουμε το ταξίδι με λεωφορείο μέχρι το Μιλάνο, που ήταν η βάση για αυτή την εξόρμηση. Αρχίσαμε από τη λίμνη Como και την πόλη του Κόμο.

Η Como είναι μια λίμνη προϊόν των παγετώνων στη Λομβαρδία, της Ιταλίας. Έχει έκταση 146 τ.χλμ. με αποτέλεσμα να είναι η τρίτη μεγαλύτερη λίμνη της Ιταλίας, μετά και τη λίμνη Garda Lake Maggiore. Βρίσκεται σε ύψος 400 μέτρων (1320 πόδια)από την επιφάνεια της θάλασσας και είναι μια από τις πιο βαθιές λίμνες στην Ευρώπη. Το βάθος της είναι μεγαλύτερο από 200 μέτρα (656 πόδια) κάτω από το επίπεδο της θάλασσας.

Η λίμνη έχει το σχήμα όπως το γράμμα "Υ" περίπου. Το βόρειο κομμάτι αρχίζει στην πόλη, της Colico, ενώ οι πόλεις Como και Lecco βρίσκονται στα άκρα του νοτιοδυτικού και νοτιοανατολικού μέρους της λίμνης, αντίστοιχα. Οι μικρές πόλεις της Μπελάτζιο, Menaggio και Varenna βρίσκονται στο σημείο τομής των τριών πλευρών της λίμνης κι ένα σκάφος εξυπηρετεί και τις τρεις.

Η λίμνη Como τροφοδοτείται σε μεγάλο βαθμό από τον ποταμό Adda, ο οποίος χύνεται στη λίμνη κοντά στο Colico και εκχύνεται στο Lecco. Αυτή η γεωλογική διαμόρφωση στη νοτιοδυτική πλευρά δημιουργεί αδιέξοδο και έτσι το Como, σε αντίθεση με το Lecco συχνά πλημμυρίζει.

Το προ-αλπικό ορεινό έδαφος μεταξύ των δύο νότιων πλευρών της λίμνης, μεταξύ Como, Bellagio και Lecco - είναι γνωστό ως το «Τρίγωνο Larian» ή Triangolo lariano. Η πηγή του ποταμού Lambro είναι εδώ. Στο κέντρο του τριγώνου, βρίσκεται η πόλη Canzo, η οποία είναι η διοικητική έδρα της Comunità montana del Triangolo Lariano, μιας ένωσης ν 31 δήμων, που εκπροσωπούν τις 71.000 κατοίκους της περιοχής.

Το όνομα της λίμνης στα Λατινικά είναι Larius και στα Ιταλικά Lario. Αλλά, το όνομα αυτό χρησιμοποιείται σπάνια. Το συνηθισμένο όνομα της λίμνης είναι Lago di Como, "Λίμνη του Κόμο". Το όνομα της λίμνης προέρχεται από την πόλη του Κόμο, που είναι γνωστή για τους Ρωμαίους ως Comum.

Ο καθεδρικός ναός Duomo, ξεκίνησε να χτίζεται το 1396 στα ερείπια μιας προηγούμενης ρωμανικής εκκλησία της Santa Maria Maggiore. Η πρόσοψη χτίστηκε το 1457, με τα χαρακτηριστικά παράθυρα και την πύλη να πλαισιώνεται από δύο αναγεννησιακά αγάλματα (Πλίνιος ο πρεσβύτερος και Πλίνιος νεότερος), του διάσημου Comaschi Η κατασκευή ολοκληρώθηκε το 1740.

Το εσωτερικό είναι σχεδιασμένο σε Λατινικό σταυρό και ο κυρίως ναός σε Γοτθικό ρυθμό. Τα δύο κλίτη χωρίζονται από διακοσμητικές κολώνες, ενώ η πτέρυγα του ναού είναι από την εποχή της Αναγέννησης. Περιλαμβάνει ένα σκαλιστό χώρο για τη χορωδία του 16ου αιώνα και ταπετσαρίες με γελοιογραφίες του Giuseppe Arcimboldi. Ο τρούλος είναι σε σχέδιο ροκοκό του Filippo Juvarra. Υπάρχουν επίσης, έργα τέχνης του 16ου-17ου αιώνα, ταπετσαρίες και έργα ζωγραφικής του 16ου αιώνα από τους ζωγράφους, Bernardino Luini και Gaudenzio Ferrari.

Η λίμνη Como αποτελεί δημοφιλή τουριστικό προορισμό. Είναι ένας τόπος που προσφέρεται για ιστιοπλοΐα, windsurfing και kitesurfing. Το 1818 ο ρομαντικός Άγγλος ποιητής Percy Bysshe Shelley έγραψε στον Άγγλο φίλο του, επίσης ποιητή Thomas Love Peacock: "Αυτή η λίμνη υπερβαίνει σε ομορφιά, σε ότι έχω δει μέχρι σήμερα, με εξαίρεση τα νησιά του arbutus Killarney. Η λίμνη είναι μακριά και στενή και φαίνεται σαν ποτάμι ανάμεσα στα βουνά και τα δάση".

Η περιοχή της λίμνης είναι γνωστή για τις ωραίες βίλες που έχουν χτιστεί από τότε που ο Πλίνιος ο νεότερος έχτισε την Comedia και την Tragedia. Πολλές έχουν θαυμάσιους κήπους, που επωφελούνται από το ήπιο κλίμα που προκαλείται από την παρουσία των 22,5 χιλιομέτρων της λίμνης και ευνοούνται έτσι και τροπικά φυτά.

Ο επόμενος σταθμός ήταν το Lugano, μια πόλη στην περιοχή Ticino, νότιο τμήμα της Ελβετίας, με κατοίκους ιταλικής προέλευσης. Με εύκρατο κλίμα, στο Λουγκάνο, ευδοκιμούν φοίνικες, που στολίζουν γραφικές λεωφόρους, με εκπληκτική θέα στη λίμνη και τις Άλπεις.

Το Λουγκάνο είναι μία καλή βάση για επίσκεψη σε άλλες πόλεις και τοποθεσίες της περιοχής. Ευχάριστο μέρος για να χαλαρώσετε το καλοκαίρι. Απέχει μόνο μισή ώρα από τη λίμνη Como.

Το Λουγκάνο βρίσκεται σε όρμο στη βόρεια πλευρά της λίμνης του Λουγκάνο, η οποία περιβάλλεται από πολλά βουνά που προσφέρουν υπέροχη θέα. Στο ιστορικό κέντρο της πόλης υπάρχουν πολυάριθμα κτίρια σε στυλ Ιταλικό-Λομβαρδίας και μουσεία. Είναι αρκετά μικρό και μπορείτε να το περπατήσετε. Πολλοί από τους δρόμους είναι πεζόδρομοι. Χάρη στο ήπιο κλίμα, το Λουγκάνο αποτελεί δημοφιλή τουριστικό προορισμό, την άνοιξη, όταν οι ανθίζουν οι καμέλιες.

Το Λουγκάνο, είναι η μεγαλύτερη πόλη στην περιοχή του Ticino. Δεν αποτελεί μόνο, το τρίτο πιο σημαντικό οικονομικό κέντρο της Ελβετίας, αλλά είναι και μια πόλη γεμάτη πάρκα, λουλούδια, επαύλεις και ωραία κτίρια. Με το Μεσογειακό χρώμα, το Λουγκάνο προσφέρει όλα τα πλεονεκτήματα μιας παγκόσμιας κλάσης πόλης, σε συνδυασμό με τη σφραγίδα ενός μικρού χωριου.

Η λίμνη Maggiore (στα ιταλικά: Lago Maggiore) είναι η πιο δυτική από τις τρεις μεγάλες λίμνες της Ιταλίας και η δεύτερη σε μέγεθος μετά από τη λίμνη Garda. Έχει έκταση 213 τ.χλμ περίπου και μήκος 54 χιλιόμετρα.

Η Isola Bella είναι ένα από τα νησιά της λίμνης Maggiore στη βόρεια Ιταλία. Το νησί βρίσκεται στον κόλπο Borromean 400 μέτρα από τη μικρή πόλη Stresa. Το νησάκι Isola Bella είναι 320 μέτρα μήκος από 400 μέτρα πλάτος και είναι πλήρως κατειλημμένο από το Palazzo Borromeo και τον κήπο του. Είναι ένα δημοφιλές τουριστικό θέρετρο. Από τις αρχές του 20ου αιώνα, η κύρια πηγή εισοδήματος είναι ο τουρισμός.

Το Λοκάρνο, η πρωτεύουσα της επαρχίας του Λοκάρνο, βρίσκεται στο βόρειο άκρο της λίμνης Maggiore (Lago Maggiore) στο ελβετικό καντόνι του Ticino, κοντά στην Ascona, στους πρόποδες των Άλπεων. Έχει πληθυσμό περίπου 15.000 κατοίκους (60.000 για την αστική ζώνη συμπεριλαμβανομένων της Ασκόνα). Η επίσημη γλώσσα του Λοκάρνο είναι ιταλική.
Ένα σημαντικό φεστιβάλ κινηματογράφου, το Φεστιβάλ Internazionale del Cinema di Λοκάρνο, λαμβάνει χώρα κάθε χρόνο τον Αύγουστο στην Piazza Grande.

Φωτεινή Ελευθεριάδου


magiceye said...

thank you so much for the lovely tour!

Debbie said...

This is a place I have visited. My husband and I took his mother to Italy to see where her father's family came from. We took a trip from Milan to the border of Switzerland. The boat ride on Lake Como was simply beautiful. Unfortunately, it rained the day we were there but it didn't spoil our time. The area is lovely and I would love to return and spend more time exploring Switzerland.

Phivos Nicolaides said...

Magiceye. We thank you too for your kind comment!

Phivos Nicolaides said...

Debbie. It is fascinating to discover somehow your roots! The place -as whole Europe- is fantastic. It's a unique place of natural beauty! Wish you Debbie to visit it again.

Mediterranean kiwi said...

i didnt realise that this place was so popular in the winter - looks fantastic

Phivos Nicolaides said...

Mediterranean kiwi. It is very popular Maria and well know for centuries!

A World in a PAN said...

My Italy discovery started here!

Fotini said...

The lakes of North Italy are very beautiful and each season has to offer different experiences. I plan to visit the area during summer too and I am sure that I will enjoy it too.

Phivos Nicolaides said...

A World in a PAN. It was a very good start Laura!

Phivos Nicolaides said...

Fotini. Thank you very much Fotini for your nice travelling views! Keep on travelling my dear!!

the donG said...

no wonder everyone loves europe. almost each country has its own beautiful scenery.

Phivos Nicolaides said...

The donG. Thank you friend. You are right. Every place has its own beauty!

Sarah Sofia Ganborg said...

very interesting! A friend of mine always went on holiday there and they liked it so much, that they kept returning year after year.
great post!
love, sarah sofia

Phivos Nicolaides said...

Sarah Sofia Ganborg. Yes, very interesting indeed! No wonder why your friend keeps going there!