Travel Notes


Paradise Personified, the Lake Towns of Northern Italy

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When you fall in love with a part of the world, you want to experience it as much as possible. At the end of our tour my friend and I had planned a few extra days to immerse ourselves in this paradisiacal part of Italy. Its storied lake communities range from elegant to charmingly comfy; I’ve chosen the town that so totally wrapped us in its heart to share with you all. Everything about each day was captivating, and spending time in towns that were so small, but beautifully maintained, helped us imagine that we could live there some day.

Marcote, the subject of today’s post, is so small that you’d miss it if you blinked. And the “main road” running through all these lake communities, is two lanes…one going in one direction, one going in the other. Marcote, Valsolda-Albogasio-Oria, the names conjure up romatic lifestyles and leisurely moments. Of course, the signature, pastel-colored stucco buildings add immeasurably to the pleasure! Who couldn’t feel happy when looking at these.

Since Fogazzaro Roi is magically sited on Lake Lugano, we found ourselves slipping in and out of Italy and its Suisse neighbor to the north throughout those days. This private villa of the former 19th century novelist Antonio Fogazarro is now an intimate “house museum” (feature image). Clearly nestled into the hillside, each descending level brings you closer to the entrance. With details that also recall an earlier period structure on the property, the villa reveals itself as you walk down steps from the long, pebbled drive.

Faux piant work is a signature of so many Italian buildings, of which I never tire. Here at Fogazarro Roi it’s a pretend balustrade under a window on the house’s main wall…above an elegant plaque, made all the more important with its neatly pruned ivy ” frame.”

A cozy villa, not a grand one, with the focus on two levels of pebbled terraces overlooking the water.

Imagine this view! These glacial lakes with the rugged mountains coming right down to the water is what truly distinguishes the Lake District of Northern Italy!

Repeating duplicate pots filled with simple yellow pansies add a slight formal touch.

Another example of faux painting is to be seen over the pots of pansies on the villa’s facade.

So many villas that I’ve visited had one common denomminator that I adore– painted ceilings, in addition to the wall decor. This simple but very effective area is in a small room that leads onto the most beguiling spot for breakfast, or tea in the afternoon. We each agreed we could sit here for hours…

You almost feel as though you are cantilevered over the lake.

An intriguing structure begs the question…”what’s in there?” And it actually is the entrance to a side garden and…

the wisteria-clad pergola. What a perfect close to this post…the pergola with wisteria hanging gracefully, providing the perfect take-away image as we departed Fogazarro Roi.

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About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

9 thoughts on “Paradise Personified, the Lake Towns of Northern Italy

  1. Lovely – I was afraid there were no more wisteria – you saved the best for last! Thank you, Bettie!

  2. Magnifico! Every hue of blues and greens make such lovely arms to wrap around you in all those intimate garden spaces. The painted tompe l’ oeil ceilings and walls are so charming and inspirational and certainly bring back happy memories.

  3. LOVELY LADY, (80 YEARS – AFTER: “D – DAY”)

    A THOUSAND … ‘THANK YOUS’ – FOR REMINDING US, THAT:

    BEAUTY WILL SAVE THE WORLD!

    TOM

  4. Dear Bettie,

    RE: Imagine the view photo! Maxfield Parrish must have spent time in the Lake District!

    My Dad was in the Big Red One U.S. Army infantry landing at Omaha Beach on this day 80 years ago and survived yet was wounded at the Battle of the Bulge, January 18, 1945, one of the coldest winters on record. My Dad saved himself from bleeding out by piling more snow on top of him and miraculously a triage of medics (angels) saved him and took him off the battlefield to a hospital. Our troops were exhausted, without proper clothing or boots but they never gave up. Doubt not, fear not!

    Bettie, thank you for sharing your travels to beautiful places, flowers and gardens!

    Mary Vargo

    1. DEAR MARY VARGO, D DAY – 80 YEARS LATER!

      AS AN ARMY MEDIC, c. 1967, THOUGH SERVING IN GERMANY WITH THE
      FIRST & 36TH ARTIL. – I EXPERIENCED IN THE FIELD, BOTH LIFE AND DEATH SITUATIONS.
      THIS DAY ONLY MAKES ME REALISE HOW BLESSED WE ALL ARE TO BE
      ……. ‘AMERICANS’.
      LET US NEVER FORGET THOSE BRAVE INDIVIDUALS WHO GAVE SO MUCH.
      TOM GARDNER SPC. 4.

  5. To live and even to die in such a beautiful echo of paradise.
    Thank you for this reminder of our profound gratitude to
    those who 80 years ago gave so much and more to recover
    and retain peace in our world.

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