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Photographer's Note

Varenna is an exquisite village on the eastern shore of Lake Como - the town and the setting are beautiful without the crowds found in some other parts of the lake.
Among the many palaces on the lake is Villa Monastero in Varenna. Most of Varenna has wonderful views of steep hillsides falling away into the lake with mountains filling in the background. I hope the photo gives a taste of the villa, its gardens and the setting of the villa and Varenna. It was taken at midday on a very hot windless day - the polariser was most useful.
The Monastero (which is far more interesting than the photograph) is quaintly described in my guide to Lake Como as being inhabited by nuns for several centuries after its construction in 1208.
The delightful history goes on to say how the nuns lived for centuries in "pious obedience" until "time changes all, even nuns" Many nuns who "should have been rapt in the contemplation of God, perhaps with the only diversion of an occasional glance at the centre of the lake, turned their thoughts to other subjects. They reflected that the saint who was their patron (Mary Magdalen) had not spent her youth exactly in austerity. They were thus tempted to emulate her life in their weaker moments."
It was all too much for the the people of Varenna as the gossip spread from Varenna to Milan and elsewhere. The "house of lovers" as the Monastero became known was dissolved by Cardinal Borromeo of Milan and Pope Pius V closed the convent altogether in the 16th century.
With this history I feel that it does not deserve its current role as a conference centre!

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