Helen in Europe travel blog

Original watercolour illustrations elucidating the archaeological items at the Archaeology museum

Grim Reaper sculpture at the cemetery

going up; inside the Campanile of Lecco Bell Tower

exterior view of the Campanile of Lecco tower

almost at the top: the bell and the view; things were about...

Annie and I with our view

looking out onto Lake Como

city view

In the company of relaxed Annie and Carol, we were off to a somewhat unhurried start to the day and a relaxed walk down to the main town. Despite the fact that they were only to spend 2.5 days in Lecco, Annie and Carol were not about to rush things. Carol and I took a chance with the Archaeology museum and found ourselves with three very friendly staff/ volunteers who gave us a range of English version brochures; once inside, and perusing the WWII themed propaganda posters and Nazi pictures, I started to think we were in the wrong place. Sure enough, we'd gone upstairs to the History museum; We were pointed in the right direction and descended downstairs into the musty vault of the archaeology museum. Although it was no comparison to larger major archaeology museums, it had a charm all of its own with hand drawn mounted watercolour drawings of the items in situ. The figures resembled some of my students' drawings but I enjoyed their 'outsider art' style charm. Eschewing the museum, Carol had a goal, to return to the charming antique shop that sold the Pinocchio themed ephemera that we stumbled on during our first day together. Carol was convinced that the proprietor was actually Giuseppe and gestured to pictures of him on our first visit two days ago. Of course, Pinocchio is Italian and every house seems to have at least one Pinocchio figure, as evidenced by the one in the room I am residing in which is replete with one or more of my hosts's three adult sons' possessions. Not only is there an Italian link, but this year marks some sort of anniversary; as the book was written in 1883, that would be 135 years, but perhaps more famous is Disney's film version, which is now 78 years old; any excuse for an anniversary it would seem. The 10 minute walk downtown and antique shop visit expended enough energy to warrant a coffee and cake stop. Upon return we delved more deeply into the cemetery that in the past I had only quickly visited. The sculptures adorning the tombstones were like a history of sculpture from Neo-Classical through to 60s concrete art abstraction. We walked through the cloisters which featured a great variety of patinas, sculptures and interesting moments in family history. Such effort (and likely expense) had been spent on these tombstones and sculptures that Marcella indicated to me that our local cemetery in Spring Gully (Bendigo) was a 'poor' cemetery. Maybe funeral costs, like groceries and wine, are a lot cheaper in Italy.

After expending so much energy in the cemetery, Annie and Carol opted for an afternoon nap to refresh themselves ready for our evening excursion to Campanile di Lecco's clock tower. In my first few days in Lecco I had noticed the amazing cathedral and clock tower and noticed signage indicating free bell tower tours. Upon researching this via the internet, it appeared however, that the tours were only in Italian. I wondered if it was worth it to listen to an Italian tour just to get the opportunity to walk those 400 steps to the top; however, I thought it worth enquiring about English tours. Thankfully, I received an email to say that this would be possible and we were booked in for 8pm on Annie and Carol's last day in Lecco; I thought this would be a great way for them to finish their time here - but I hadn't factored in Annie's sore leg and Carol's vertigo!

Lecco's clock tower is, apparently the second highest church tower in Italy, and among the highest in Europe. The bell tower of San Nicolò is one of the icons of Lecco and has a mixed history. The tower is inside an old circular defense tower of the fifteenth century , which was part of the old city fortification in medieval times, but it was inaugurated on Christmas night in 1904. During our tour with our delightful young male guide Francesco, we learnt just the right amount of history between ascending the steps, roughly 100 at a time. At the actual bell tower where you could get up close and personal with the bells, we were directed to the next part, a steep ladder which would take us to the final part, the observation tower. Carol and two more of our party decided to stay back in the tower and had to move over when the bells were about to ring! Then it was all gorgeous viewing; it seemed that every day I was viewing lovely Lecco from a different angle - from Lago di Como, from below, from my bedroom window and now from the city's highest bell tower. Despite the many 100s of photos of Lecco already taken, I could not resist more, such is its beauty. For those of you wishing to learn more, here is the Campanile San Nicolò Lecco's website: http://www.campaniledilecco.it/

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