December 2014 The former Bar Iris in Vacciago has reopened as a new bar La Ca Buiota
October 2014 This year the Hydrangea Paniculata at Villa Gelsomina have been absolutely magnificent! They're white in July (left picture), gaining a hint of pink in August (middle picture), turning full wine red in September, and STILL in flower in October!! (right picture)!
October 2014 For some time we've been looking for suitable plants to complement the Paniculata, for the right hand side of the grounds, which has been relatively open (especially since we lost a palm in the very cold winter of 2011). One of the suggestions of the new gardener was Lagerstroemia Indica, originally from South East Easia, also known as Crepe Myrtle, and as Banaba in the Philippines, with a long flowering period in late summer, so ideal for Villa Gelsomina. The different varieties are usually various shades of violet (which wouldn't work too well), sometimes white, but on doing a little research I saw there is also a red variety with larger flowers, called Dynamite, developed in America, which could work. I also started noticing lots of these magnificent plants in some of the bigger and older villas (I find I don't notice plants until I can recognise what I am looking for!), but that they were almost exclusively purple (which wouldn't work at VG), and indeed Dynamite proved hard to source locally. We eventually located some plants in a nursery in Alba, and on the first rainy day the gardener duly made the long drive, and in late September we planted four Lagerstroemia Dynamite in the grounds of Villa Gelsomina. Pictures show them in early October! If you're not at the villa yourself next year, watch this space for an update next year how they are doing!
September 2014 We've added handy Google Maps links to each apartment page, like this one for Villa Gelsomina (opens satellite view in new window)
September 2014 Further to the entry below, we understand the Locanda del Buon Riso, currently in Orta San Giulio, will be transferring to the Vecchio Circolo in Lortallo, a convenient walking distance from Villa Gelsomina.
May 2014 We've renovated the pool at Villa Gelsomina, resealing all joints, building up a new non-slip border (it was no longer absolutely level), repositioning some of the jets and skimmers, and painting the whole pool, all with the latest technology materials.
May 2014 The Vecchio Circolo restaurant, walking distance from Villa Gelsomina, is closing at the end of May. They are transferring to Maggiore where one of their major business clients is based. It's not clear yet whether the restaurant will be taken over by new owners. And we've also heard that the Locanda del Buon Riso in Orta San Giulio will close, after only two years, at the end of October, following a rent hike. Eat there while you can!
May 2014 We've upgraded the wireless internet service in Villa Heureka to a broadband service called Eolo rated at 10 Mbps. It's a radio based service beamed to and from a transmitter on the other side of the lake to which Villa Heureka has a direct line of sight, received via a dedicated parabolic antenna. We chose this service following rejections from both fixed line providers (Telecom Italia and Infostrada) for an ADSL service, because the local phone lines are (currently) not upgraded for ADSL. Technical details of the service (in Italian) are available on this page on the Eolo web site. This rural area is incompletely covered by fast fixed services, and it's interesting to note that this smaller provider has managed to establish a network of transmitters to provide a good radio based service at a reasonable cost to many customers in this mountainous area.
April 2014 Darwin Airlines new route from Cambridge to Malpensa has unfortunately shut down after less than a year of operation, as reported in this BBC article on Darwin's international flights from Cambridge.
April 2014 Milan Bergamo airport will be closed from 13/5/2014 to 2/6/2014 for runway maintenance. During this period, all Ryanair flights scheduled for Bergamo will use Malpensa T1 (all the better for getting to Lake Orta!). Note there were some erroneous press reports that Ryanair is opening a new base at Malpensa, but this is not the case, it is just a temporary transfer while Bergamo's runaways are repaired!
March 2014 We've installed wifi internet and a telephone for incoming and local outgoing calls in Casa Miralago.
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