“Locarno! Spreading out in width like Heaven, / How dost thou cleave to the poetic heart, / Bask in the sunshine of the memory…” –William Wordsworth, in The Prelude (1850)
Day 6: Italian chaos continues. I begin the day by waiting three hours in Verbania for a bus that never comes, as walking paths between the cities I’m visiting have—for the most part—disappeared. I’ve managed to communicate to another woman waiting with her daughter that I’m bound for Locarno, a lake town on the Swiss side of the Swiss-Italian border. She somehow gets a phone number for the bus company and does some excited Italian screaming on her cell phone while her daughter and I watch on with wide eyes. Five minutes later, a bus arrives. She motions for me to follow her. I do. Another five minutes later, the bus pulls up to a marina, and she again beckons me to follow her—this time off the bus. I get the gist of her plan: we’ll take a boat to Locarno. For one reason or another, this woman and her daughter bail, but I have no other option, so I put on my bikini top and sit in the sun for another two hours waiting for this boat to arrive.
Initially, I didn’t feel particularly excited about traveling on Lake Maggiore like this until the boat was pulling up to the dock. But then once I was on the boat, the day’s worries dissolved, and I felt happy standing outside in the breeze:
I had thought that traveling by boat would be a way-too-touristy way to travel, but it ended up costing about the same price as a train, and we zig-zagged all along Lake Maggiore (for an three additional hours) stopping to drop off/pick up other passengers at these wonderful little lake towns along the way:
Just as we were arriving in Locarno, one of the Italian crew members invited me to a barbeque later that evening back on the boat with a wonderful group of people:
The evening turned out to be the most social of my trek. It began with dinner on the boat and ended with dancing the night away on the shores of Lake Maggiore (that’s me, shaking booty above, and crew members Donato and Simon below):
Locarno gave Wordsworth reason to “bask in the sunshine of…memory” in his life-poem, The Prelude. I, too, will remember this day spent getting to Locarno for a long time.
Even if I wasn’t able to continue walking on foot through this part of Italy, as I had originally planned, I was thankful that modern transport got me to Locarno so that I could sit outside on the back deck of this boat, wishing only that I could have stayed there longer.
Note: this post is one in a series of posts about my recent attempt to retrace William Wordsworth’s footsteps from Chamonix, France to Como, Italy on the walking holiday the poet took with his friend Robert Jones in 1790.