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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

Reference code
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 entry, paper

45.8080597, 9.0851765

Tuesday 17. [17 March 1896] And slept the clock round. Sunny
morning, we decided to go up the lake on a steamboat. Went to see
the Luini several times - it certainly contains very lovely group and
single figures, the St John notably, and a woman with 2 children in the
extreme left hand corner (like Andrea's Carita) and the group of the
Virgin supported by women and the kneeling Magdalen, but the
picture I still think suffers by being over crowded. The Lake very
lovely, took 2 photographs. The mountains rise for the most part
sheer out of the water, and the villages either nestle quite down onto
the water's edge or are built in as it were to the very face of the rock,
with a campanile crowning the whole and standing out against the
sky. Porlezza is at the head of the lake, from thence we turned and
were back at Lugano by 1.30 where we had lunch and at 3.10 came
on to Como where we arrived at 4.15. Deliciously warm and sunshiny.
Went out and saw the Duomo (in which I was disappointed, the
faÁade seemed to me to lack any great interest and though it is pretty
enough it does not carry conviction, it was built in the 15th century by a
man who picked and chose among all styles and is further adorned
(?) by elaborate statues of the Plinys under Renaissance canopies;
the rest of the church is entirely changed into a Renaissance building;
the north door is very elaborate, all carved by the Rodari, but I was
half inclined to call it ugly and it was certainly stiff.) and the Broletto
which is absolutely charming, striped red white and back, with
delicate arches to the windows and charming little double columns,
which in one window are, by a freak, bound together. Two or 3 Luinis
in the Duomo, one rather nice, a virgin enthroned with saints, and 2
Gaudenzio Ferraris - I didn't care for them much, least for the Flight
into Egypt, but it was too dark to see them well. As we were walking
suddenly we came upon S. Fedele, the Lombard apse of it, very
charming, with an arched gallery running round it - the rest is all
modernized. Nice doorway at the side of the apse carved with a
dragon fighting a serpent. Then we went on St. Abbondio, a lovely
Lombard church. The windows in the apse in two tiers, not above one
another but alternate and round each a beautiful and elaborate band
of carving - intricate flowing decoration, birds and flowers and vines -
which however breaks off short in the upper windows and does not go
round the arch. Inside a double aisle, the second supported in short
slender piers; the nave narrow, the roof carried on tall single piers with
a capitol [sic] of a very simple shape which was sometimes
decorated with carving. Someone in a blue cotton coat was saying
prayers and a few men answering in response. An agreeable guide
took us round in front of them and showed us the frescoes in the apse,
of the 13th century he said and proceeded to remark that they were of
the school of Giotto! also the coffin of St Abbondio. Then he took us
out by a north door and we found ourselves in the gallery of a priests'
college - a four square building with a garden in the middle, empty
now, and galleries running round each story. A good priest was
walking along our whitewashed gallery reading. It was to this college
that our praying friends belonged. On our way home we saw some
scylla growing at the top of a wall in a vineyard, so I climbed up and
got them. Our hotel is the Hotel Volta and is quite near the lake. We
were the only people at table d'hote.

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