Helen in Europe travel blog

boy in the laneway to Torre Visconti, sitting on 14th century cannons

family portraits by Orlando Sorro at Torre Visconti

landscape by Orlando Sorro depicting the Lecco mountains I have come to...

I climbed this yesterday and walked inside that little chapel on the...


No matter where you travel, and even if you have limited common language, having children can give you a common bond with those you meet. This morning I sought my Italian host's assistance to help translate the text on a poster that has been all over town and after reading it again, today I guessed that it was advertising an exhibition about to finish today. My suspicions were confirmed with Marcella's translations: the Orlando Sorra exhibition closes today! No, I had never heard of him either but, prompted by the advertising, and the imminent closing date, I thought i should go. Also, it's on display at the Torre Visconti which I haven't visited before. Whilst some Lecco museums close at 2pm, this one does not actually open until 3pm! It pays to check when you are in Europe. Once my information was confirmed, we got off track completely talking about our adult children. One of Marcella and Salvatore's three sons is hoping to be admitted to PhD in some area of Science and her youngest son Marco is an acrobatic dancer. Of course, proud of my own daughter, I showed off my daughter Sarah's demo reel to Marcella on my laptop and in turn, Marcella shared a video of Marco and his partner in 'Italy's got talent' of which they reached the semi-final with their risque dance act. Marcella is actually hoping that the PhD son won't be accepted for his PhD in Italy so that he can try in Melbourne and then Marcella and Salvatore will try for an extended stay in Bendigo (not Melbourne as it's too busy for them there).

Finding Torre Visconti was so easy I didn't even need to refer to google maps. However, it is almost hidden within the busy touristy plaza area and the visitor quickly transitions from modern buildings, cafes and shops to a tiny laneway with almost ancient architecture. It turns out the building is one of the remaining parts of a fortified wall from the 17th century. The village was triangular and completely surrounded by walls in the time of Azzone Visconti. Azzone Visconti (7 December 1302 – 16 August 1339) was lord of Milan from 1329 until his death. He is considered the founder of the state of Milan. I was reminded of the fact, told to me by my host Salvatore that Lecco used to be made up of a collection of small villages in the past and eventually they were united to form Lecco. Today only the 14th century tower remains of the Visconti castle, hence its title Torre Visconti. On the ground floor is the lodgings of the guardhouse and there are two original stone cannon balls in the charming laneway entrance.

The first floor is used as a space for temporary exhibitions of the Civic Museums and of the Culture Department of the Municipality of Lecco. And so I entered this charming laneway and found a young boy. He realised I was about to take a photo and politely moved but I asked him to stay and captured his joy in his surroundings; I wonder if he realised that the cannon balls he was sitting on were from the 14th century. There seemed to be much excitement about this local artist from the mid century, Orlando Sorra and the receptionist was doing a great job assisting locals to read the didactic information on the computer. It was free and it seemed that the city really wanted the public to see this exhibition as there were advertising posters all over town. Although the artist seemed quite conservative by 20th century standards, there was certainly an aesthetic charm to his paintings of portraits and landscapes. It was fitting that I was visiting this exhibition on its last day, having really started to experience Lecco's multifaceted history and the iconic mountains. Apparently many families have a Sorra in their collection and must have been extremely proud to own and then to share to the public via the exhibition their delightful paintings of family members. Imagery therefore, whether it be through a unique painting created by a master artist or through a website, youtube film or photograph is a great way of sharing the love and pride of sons and daughters.



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