Wednesday, 13 September 2017

The hotel amongst the clouds

Now I like the way that the unexpected can happen from a seemingly ordinary trip in to the mountains.

We had decided to take the opportunity of a bright sunny morning to visit the Sacred Mountain which towers above Varese and is home to a village, a stunning church and fourteen little shrines which you pass at intervals along the Holy Road before reaching the tiny village of Santa Maria del Monte and that 15th century chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

The hardy will walk the 2 kilometres from the city to the summit, while the less hardy will opt for the funicular at the first chapel.

Now we tend to do the walk, usually at Easter when despite a sharp chill in the air, the sun shines and there are magnificent glimpses of the surrounding countryside.

This Sunday we opted for the funicular but as so often happens, missed the car park and by degree ended at the top which had its own rewards, because we decided to explore the village.

You walk along twisted narrow alleys which climb and alternatively drop down with the buildings rising steeply on either side and end where you began.

At this point three of us needed a lavatory, which proved difficult to locate but as ever the resourceful Simone discovered the hotel.

Given that it was closed I doubted our luck was in, but the owner politely allowed us to use the facility and as you do I got talking to him.

His English was far better than my Italian and his voice had that deep gravelly tone of the north and he offered to give me a tour of the main rooms which date back to the early 18th century.

A subsequent owner added two more floors at the start of the next century only for the place to close after the last war.

Now it is used for conferences, and special occasions, which seemed a shame for as a venue I can think of nowhere better to spend a few days.

But perhaps not so many people want to make the long trip up the mountain and sleep amongst the clouds.

I think that is a pity but there you are, at least I got my own private invite to the splendours of the place and more than a few pictures, so I was pleased.

What I failed to do was to take his name or that of the hotel which was a bit of an oversight.

Still I did give him my card so just maybe he will look up the blog and on the strength of this story get in touch and offer up a bit more of the history of the hotel.

I hope so because I bet there is more than a few stories of this magical place and above all of some of those that over the last couple of centuries took the Holy Road to the summit and tarried for a while in this hotel in the clouds.

Leaving me just to reflect that this wasn't a bad  day out on the Sacro Monte.

Location; Varese

Pictures; Sacro Monte, 2017 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

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