Friday, August 31, 2012

July and August: Italy, France, Switzerland

In the following blog "chapters" from August to the last week of June, there will be postings going back in time showing selected images of what Cyane and Alan did in Europe during the summer of 2012.  

Here is a brief outline, starting with the latest blog and going back in time:

F)  Paris:  visits to the gardens of Versaille,s and the museum of the house and gardens of Claude Monet at Giverny; 19-22 August.

E)  Eastern Switzerland:  HIke from Casaccia/Maloja Pass/St Moritz area north to Filisur and visit in Frauenkirch-Davos; 9-14 August.  Hike 50 km, about 900 km up and down each day

D)  Festival del Film, Locarno Switzerland with Otto Preminger series; 2-6 August

C)  Work camp with Rempart France at Champoly, Rhone-Alpes; 18-30 July
     cost totaled about 14 euros per day per person

B)  Hike the GR-5 trail in French Alps from Modane to St Gingolph; 1-15 July
      250 km over 13 days; 19 km/day; about 900 meters up and down each day

A)  Il Cinema Ritrovato festival of old movies in Bologna, Italy; 22-29 July

A Guided Tour of Versailles

 A big thank you to our friend Elise, who works at Versailles and gave a personal tour.
It was easy to learn a lot about this pinnacle of French imperial grandeur, that exhibits many themes of French landscape architecture - and also shaped many following gardens.
Wikipedia has a great writeup of the gardens of Versailles.
Here are some of the themes:
  topiary:  clipped nature kept in bounds
  geometric designs on an east-west, north-south grid which reflects the castle
massive use of water (with massive waterworks to support it):  (fountains are turned on at selected times to save water)

mythological figures are used everywhere as statues, but the PR was very current.
  The statue in the fountain below is the Basin of Latona.  Latona is protecting her sons the gods Apollo and Dionysus from mud being thrown by peasants who do not want them to drink from their fountains.  Zeus is turning the peasants into frogs.  
The imagery certainly suggests that commoners should not resist royals who want their water.

Below can be seen the statue of sun-god Apollo riding his chariot of horses out of the water.
Louis XIV wanted to be known as the Sun King, so he used Apollo to symbolize himself.

The statue below is the Fountain of Encelade.  
It depicts a fallen Titan/giant, who is forced to live under Mt Etna and is being buried by lava. It was made to celebrate the king's victory over a rebellion.

The two principal landscape architects were André Le Notre and Jules Hardouin-Mansart.
Construction and reconstruction of Versailles have been almost continual since the seventeenth century, except during the French Revolution.


The house and gardens of Claude Monet in Giverny have been restored and are now one of the most visited sites in France.  Although the gardens are laid out in long rectilinear beds like other French gardens, Claude Monet personally directed and supervised the plantings.  A visit to Giverny helps to understand more about his passion for color, as well as how he lived his life. has photos and information on the gardens. talks about the artist's life.  
Although the house and garden may have fallen into disrepair at some time, they have now been restored as much as possible.  It is very moving to walk through rooms that the family used, the artist's studio, and gardens that are recognizable from Monet's paintings.

Sometimes it is hard to see the gardens because of all the tourists.

Switzerland Visit with Friends, August 2012

 The view above is of Davos looking south toward the Tinzinhorn in the distance.
It is the same view shown in the painting by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner below:
"Davos mit Kirche (Davos im Sommer) painted in 1925.  
The distinctive shape of the Tinzinhorn is clearly visible in the middle horizon.
Kirchner was a leader of the German Expressionist movement who left Germany and spent the last decades of his life in Davos.

 Dahlias above and dahlia gardener below.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sunset From the Chamonas D'Ela Hut at 2200 meters


Hiking up to Pass D'Ela at 2724 meters

Hiking Up to Piz D'Err

Leaving Bivio

 We left Bivio very early August 10 and started the day with 5 kilometers of hiking along glacial debris in the early morning mist.  It was about 5 degrees Celsius.

Septimer Pass Down to Bivio

 Bivio is one of the highest towns in Switzerland, at 1700 meters.  The Catholic Church there dates back to the 1200's and the carved alter took almost a decade to make in the 1300's.

Septimer Pass Hike from Casaccia North

 The Septimer Pass is now inhabited just by cows; it used to be a busy trading route.

Hike From Casaccia Switzerland North

 After taking a bus from Lugano to the Maloja Pass below St Moritz, on August 9 we left hiking north.  Casaccia is around 1000 meters and the path is an old trading road that dates back to Roman times.

Above, Alan stands by pallets of roofing stones.

A Brief Stop in Lugano

 Lugano is probably the largest city in the Italian speaking Swiss canton of Ticino.
It has lots of banks, second home apartments, surrounding slopes, vistas and sun.