The northern Italian heat always makes me pensive. Those hot and humid subtropical summers laden thick with the scent of bittersweet apéritifs and impending thunderstorms make doing anything other than sitting, drinking, and mulling a Sisyphean task. They warmed me to the ways of ancient Greek and Roman philosophers—men at the mercy of dog days with no choice but to reflect and philosophize through the heat.

I combed through the threads of the past few months. Even untangled, they left my mind in knots. Had I really spent eight weeks indoors? Was America really fenced off from the rest of the world? Not even living led to believing. In Italy, no one was allowed to leave their homes, and now here we were, about to reunite on the jade and jaded shores of Lago Maggiore, ready to stretch our stomachs with pasta and Aperol spritz.

“Can you pick us up at the border?” I wrote Xenia. “We can take the bus as far as Brissago, but there doesn’t seem to be a bus that goes down to Cannobio.”

Cannobio, Italy

The dozen years we’ve known each other unraveled like a string whose ends were being tugged in opposite directions. There we stood, one at each end, distant but connected after all this time. We were older now, two little less wide-eyed lions that ran a little more slowly, ran beyond the urge to forge into the unknowns of an utvekslingsstudent. We accepted the reality and frontiers of what was. We saw life’s luminous hues and morose monotones in reunions, farewells, and road trips across America. We knew ourselves better. We were pursuing dreams which were our own and belonged to nobody else.

Isole di Brissago, Switzerland

2 replies on “A Switalian Weekend on Lago Maggiore

  1. Lovely photographs! Btw, if you can’t stand the heat of the Italian north I wonder what you would think of the heat down south 🙂 – at least we have the sea here! I’m looking forward to exploring the north of Italy once this pandemic gives way. Your photos and words are inspiring!


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