Sunday, September 9, 2012

Dreaming Of Lake Como

"Morning Ferry, Varenna" Watercolor by Derek Gundy

It really has been five long years since we've been to Italy. Too long... I find I have been indulging in flavors that transport me back to this magical country if only in my imagination.

One of my favorite places is Lake Como. Here there a stunningly beautiful small towns at different points of the lake, with many of the major towns accessible by ferry. Three central towns form "ferry triangle", so easy to hop on a boat and go from town to town. The towns are Mennagio, Varenna, and Bellagio.

All three are gorgeous places to be, but I have to say my hands down favorite has to be Varenna. A quiet town on the east side of the lake, it is a 15-20minute ferry ride from popular and bustling Bellagio. Varenna stretches out along the edge of the lake, with winding pathways guiding you along just feet above the surface of the water.

Here on our first trip in 2002, we met Giorgio, owner of Il Pozzo, a gem & jewelry shop right in the heart on Varenna, just step from the Lake. Giorgio's shop is in the orange building right in the center of this painting. This is one of many watercolors in a series on Varenna I'm working on right now in the studio. His shop is on the 1st floor, and he lives on the third.
"Varenna, Lake Como, Italy" Watercolor by Derek Gundy

It was on Lake Como in 2002 that we got engaged, and Il Pozzo was one of the first places we started looking for a ring for my bride. While we didn't find the engagement ring there, we did purchase several beautiful handmade pieces made by Parrini, a small jewelry maker from Florence. When Giorgio learned we were to be married, he immediately went to work making a special necklace for my fiance, when he told us in English what he was doing it translated as "fertility necklace" funny, so sweet, so generous...we had known the man for 10 minutes and he was creating a gift for us.

It was this friendship which kept bringing us back to Lake Como year after year for the next 4 years... in our more recent trips we have had wine and meals with our friend Giorgio. Each year we purchase new pieces from him and he always remembers us. The whole experience has made Varenna most special in our hearts beyond the jaw dropping beauty of the town.

 It is always nice to have a friend in Italy.

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