A trip down memory lane is mostly a personal thing. But this one seemed worth sharing.
The excuse for the trip was a high school class reunion in Zurich (Switzerland), 45 years after graduation! But the first leg of the journey was to Soglio, a mountain village in a steep, somewhat claustrophobic valley called Bergell (in German), Bregaglia (in Italian) or Bargaja (in the local tongue). It derives from the Latin ‘Prae-galia’ , literally the land ‘before the Gallic provinces’. It does not take long to understand that this valley served as a passage from Italy to Austria (via the Engadin) or to Germany/France, called Galia in Roman times, via the Julier pass road. This road was built by Caesar’s armies! Given the strategic importance of the Bergell, it’s inhabitants charged tolls to those wanting passage. Generally these ancient border patrol people were heavily armed to control the valley and impose their tolls.
The valley has a mystic scenery and is known for producing some famous artists like the sculptor Alberto Giacometti from Stampa and the painter Giovanni Segantini, who lived in Maloja for a while, where I spent summers as a boy. We stayed in Soglio, a small village perched on the flank of the valley, in the Hotel Palazzo Salis, built 1629, that once housed the Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke (ca. 1919). He lived for a while in room 15. I stayed in room 16 with a view of the garden in the back. The hotel also exhibits the arms used by the Von Salis family, the local rulers, who inhabited the building for centuries, including wicked looking swords and spears, ‘Hellebarden’ or halberds, and ‘Morgensterne’ or morning stars. I took pictures of swords with beautiful inlay work: brass (I think) embedded in the steel blades, see the title picture! They were displayed just outside my room as if I might need them to defend myself!
Soglio is remarkable for its age-old mountain homes and beautiful views of the steep mountains on the opposite side of the valley. This includes Piz Badile, a very steep peak with a north-east face thought to be among the most difficult climbs in the Alps. In case you want some thrills, check this filmed ascent of the Cassin route!
After Soglio there followed visits with old Swiss friends from 50 years ago! And reunions of long-lost family. There was a new generation of children I had never met!
A visit to the Chagall exposition at the “Zurcher Kunsthaus”, with my childhood friend and current author, Daniel Suter, was well worthwhile. It features a review of his life’s work. It is a temporary exhibit, open until May 12, 2013. And, finally, we met at the Hotel Storchen in Zurich for the ‘Klassenzusammenkunft’ which means ‘class reunion’. Even the Latin teacher was present! Sheepishly I raised my wine glass to toast him and uttered the first latin words that came to mind: in vino veritas est.
Over dinners with friends and family I grew to admire several pieces of jewelry. They are featured here. Zurich is a place where there are always plenty of nice things!
For example this stunning 20.67ct aquamarine, set in an 18K gold ring crafted by Gabriele Krack. Or a Bee Pendant, made of diamonds set in platinum (Tiffany).