National Geographic : 1968 Jul
Fiery blossoms light the night above Isola Comacina, Lake Co mo's only island, in celebration of Midsummer Night, the eve of St. John's Day, June 24. Time expo sure records the wanderings of candles set afloat on waters crim soned by fireworks. porcelain. One, which belonged to a chief constable of Turin, has an eight inch dagger concealed in the shaft. One of the oldest, dated 1753, be longed to a doge of Venice and is made, appropriately, of fine Venetian silk. Framed on one wall is a letter to the secretary of the museum. It is from 10 Downing Street, London, and it is dated 8 November, 1938. It reads: Dear Sir: I am writing on behalf of the Prime Minister to express regret that because of very many similar requests he is unable to do what you ask. Yours truly, E. M. Watson I expect that the Prime Minister his name was Neville Chamberlain and he was not long back from Mu nich-was so sick of requests for his famous umbrella, which had become a symbol of the appeasement of Adolf Hitler, that he didn't want to see the word even in his correspondence. We explored the many villages on the shores of Lake Maggiore, mar veled at the colossal 17th-century statue of San Carlo Borromeo which dominates the southwestern coast, and studied the history of that cardi nal who exhibited such remarkable Christian charity during 16th-century famine and plague, and such fanati cal vindictiveness when he was per secuting Protestants. As we left the lake, I gave the twins a little quiz on Maggiore's past. "What," I asked, "is the most famous event in the history of Lake Maggiore?" Brian had an immediate answer. "On June 30, 1961," he announced, "Mr. Kenneth MacLeish set a world record for diving. He went down 728 feet." He was right, too. Mr. MacLeish, now a National Geographic Senior Assistant Editor, set the record with a Swiss companion, Hannes Keller. And I should have known that a short course in Italian history could not compete with the Guinness Book of World Records for the attention of a 12-year old boy. We drove back to Moltrasio for a farewell dinner at the Caramazza. English, French, Dutch, and Swedish guests whom we had met earlier came to say goodbye. Signora Caramazza offered the specialty of her kitch en, a chicken baked in clay (preceding page).