Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Boating Drama

On Thursday last week, we set out on a boat trip to the delightful water-side village of Gandria. The centre of the village is not accessible by motor vehicle, so there was a bit of climbing up and down some pretty steep streets as we explored the area.
There have been people living in the area for at least 2800 years and the first written records of the village date back to 1237. Many of the buildings in the village appeared quite ancient and the amount of restoration work which was being carried out seemed to back this up.
The village was well known for olive oil production until 1709 when a particularly cold winter, killed all the Olive trees. in 1856, silk production began, making the most of the area's abundant Mulberry trees which provided food for the silkworms. Being on the lake and so close to the border, it proved difficult for the village to control those borders and smuggling also became big business.
The village is dominated by the church of Saint Vigilio (a 4th century Bishop of Trento) who was supposedly stoned to death by shepherds who didn't like him sticking his nose into their age-old religious beliefs and trying to convert them to Christianity. The church itself, dates back to 1463 with many later additions.
All round the village, there were more flights of steps leading to different levels...
But from the top, we had some magnificent views out over the lake.
Looking along the valley towards the Italian towns of Porlezza in the distance and at the base of the rather pointy mountain to the left, Cima.
Soon it was time to leave and take an over-all look at the village from the water...
From this vantage point, the precipitous nature of the village can clearly be seen as its buildings cling to the side of the mountain.
Soon after these pictures were taken and as we were heading back to Lugano, the boat on which we were sailing, started to belch smoke from below deck and within a few minutes, we were drifting in the middle of the lake with the engine on fire, awaiting rescue from another launch. Fortunately, we were in no immediate danger from the engine - the real headache was provided by the large and extremely noisy group of Brazilian tourists who were on our boat. It might have been worth abandoning ship to get away from them alone! Still, no-one can say we don't see life!
More tomorrow.
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