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Behind the Photo: Winter Sunset on Lake Varese, Italy

It is sunny and cold outside on this quiet Napa afternoon. Given that it is the first day of the new year, I thought I would start off this new trip around the sun with another image with a story behind it.

This is another scan from film, as the image was taken on a late November afternoon of some winters ago, in a former lifetime of mine. It was clearly sunset, and the view is of Lake Varese, as seen from the road that from Morosolo goes down to Calcinate del Pesce. Both are tiny villages on the outskirts of Varese, my home town. Sunsets are stunning over there in winter, the colors so breathtakingly intense.




I was living in Düsseldorf, Germany at the time. After about three years of long distance relationship, I had moved there the previous September to see if my future ex-husband and I could make a go of living together. It was my first time moving out of my parents’ home, and I had gone not to the next town, but the next country over.

Needless to say, I missed my family, and my family missed me. So one day, while my then boyfriend was gone on a two-week business trip to Japan and I was home alone, I hopped into the car and drove the eight-to-ten hours between Düsseldorf and Varese, crossing most of Germany and all of Switzerland. Point was, I did not tell anyone I was doing this except the ex, over the phone, when he called to say he had arrived in Tokyo.


This was before cell phones, and when I got to the house, nobody was home. My Dad was at work, my Mum was out running errands, and so was my aunt. Yes, she lives in one half of the same house. I left my car in a not so obvious part of the driveway, walked in using my set of keys, grabbed a very excited Rascal (my Mum’s beloved dog – beloved by all of us actually) and went to sit on the couch in the living room. One by one they all came home and “Oh-my-God! Oh-my-God! Look who’s here?! Are you nuts? What were you thinking? What are you doing here? You mean you drove all that way by yourself? You are crazy!”

Indeed that was my first time driving all that distance by myself. That was also the year when lying about how long it took me began. On a normal day it would take about eight hours. On a bad day (high traffic for whatever reason) it could take up to ten. On one fantastic occasion when I decided to leave Varese at six pm, I made it in only six. Shhhhhh, don’t tell my Mum, she still does not know. She only suspects, and by now she has forgotten all about it. Maybe.


I spent ten days with my family, visited with friends, and drove around quite a bit taking photographs. This photo happened on one of those drive-around days. I was heading down towards the lake hoping to catch the sunset, when coming out of a curve I saw this. I stopped right there, parked the car and took this photo. No filters. Just my old Nikon F, with a 50mm.

I originally called this photo: Oro Rosso sul Lago di Varese – Red Gold on Lake Varese. It has been a favorite since.


For the travelers among you, Lake Varese and surrounding area are a beautiful place to explore, especially in the fall, when the weather is at its best. It is also set in the unofficial lake district of Italy, as it is one of several lakes in the area. The main lake is Lake Maggiore, then there is Lake Varese, Lake Lugano (shared with Switzerland), the smaller lakes of Monate, Comabbio, Orta and Mergozzo, and the pond that is Lake Ghirla. And Lake Como is really not that far.

Lake Varese is also particularly popular with the worldwide rowing community, as it has ideal conditions for both training and racing. The 2016 World Rowing Cup took place there.


I thought it was a good bit of reminiscing with which to mark the first day of 2017.

I am going to pop that half Veuve Clicquot I bought yesterday, and make a toast for a happy New Year to us all!



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  • Diantha01/02/2017 - 5:16 pm

    Wow, just beautiful…..thank you for sharing. And Happy New Year!ReplyCancel

    • Monica Schwartz01/02/2017 - 6:08 pm

      You are welcome, Diantha. And thank you, too. Happy New Year!!! <3ReplyCancel

  • Julie01/03/2017 - 6:52 am

    Thanks for sharing a nice memory and beautiful image. I’ve been to Como, stayed in Bellagio, and hope to again visit that region, so maybe I will get to your village someday, too. Happy New Year, Monica.ReplyCancel

    • Monica Schwartz01/03/2017 - 4:17 pm

      Thank you, Julie. I am happy you enjoyed it. Happy New Year to you, too! <3ReplyCancel

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