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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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

45.5415526, 10.2118019

Friday 20. [20 March 1896] Much clearer. We determined to go to
Iseo and started by train at 8.35. Very slow train - it walked up the hills.
Reached Iseo at 10.15. Our boat was 20 minutes late but we reached
Lovere a 1/4 hour before we were due! Charming lake. Much wilder
than Como. A little island "entirely occupied by a mountain," with 2
clustering villages on it and next it a floating villa which had once been
a monastery. Reached Lovere at 11.45 and went to the Leon d'oro
where we lunched on a balcony. Our menu was: \n\n1. Sardines and
sausage \n\n2 boiled mutton and pickled tomatoes and mushrooms
- very nasty; our waiting maid\n\n told us with pride she had pickled
them.\n\n3. a frittura of tiny fishes out of the lake - they were alive till
they entered the frying\n\n pan she said.\n\n4 dessert and country
cheese; butter molto molto fresco and bread fatto in tamiglia. \n\nOur
host a charming and talkative person. Walked up and down the
steep streets of Lovere and explored an enormous church.
Photographed a group of women washing. Started again at 2.15 and
reached Iseo at 4. The upper end of the lake opens onto a beautiful
valley with headland after headland of mountain coming down into it.
Snow lying quite low. Chocolate at Iseo. Left at 4.35 and reached
Brescia at 6. Walked about Brescia. Ordered 4 copper jugs. A
lovely early renaissance church front S. something dei Miracoli;
exquisitely delicate work with all the perfect conciseness of the early
renaissance. Fine square with a Palazzo Pubblico designed by
Bramante and finished by Sanosino and Palladio - but I don't really
like it though it's still very good of its kind. The topmost balcony
(Palladio's) very heavy and unimaginative - a heavy balustrade of
stone pierced with big round openings. The square round also early
renaissance and very nice - a charming little Loggia with a balcony of
the same delicate work as the Miracoli and the clock tower side of
black and white marble, very charming. The worst of the
Renaissance work is it's so easy to imitate - badly; and so vastly
difficult to imitate well. Except it be of the very first quality, to my mind
it's worth nothing, heavy lifeless, unimaginative. Walked up to the
Castello and had such a view as only Italy can give. The plain of
Lombardy shadowy in the dusk, the town with domes and towers and
spires and here and there a light below us - all blue, misty, vague.
Only the great dome of the Duomo Nuovo standing out solid and
clear and giving grace and lightness by contrast to the square stone
towers. Played bÈzique after dinner and early to bed.

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