Umbrellas and Bells

Traveling down the mountain, we arrived in Carpugnino, the town where many of the Brovelli’s of old moved when they migrated from Brovello. Nearby is the town of Gignese which is home to an unusual museum: umbrellas and their makers.


In this area, umbrella peddlers once abounded. Gianni speculated that the name Brovelli may have evolved from the word ombrelli (umbrellas). We all repeated the words — ombrelli, Brovelli, Brovelli, ombrelli…maybe!

A museum devoted entirely to umbrellas sounds pretty quirky, but it would have been fascinating to see. Master umbrella-makers used to live in this area and they produced the finest. Their artful umbrellas and parasols have been exported around the world. The museum displays their tools, their creations, and explains the history of this local industry.

Continuing our afternoon of sightseeing in the province of Varese, we entered the town of Arsago Seprio. Although this town is the site of the World Motocross championships, the sights here for us were the Basilica of San Vittore, the Baptistery of S. Giovanni, and the campanile.

Basilica on the left and Baptistery on the right

The Romanesque Basilica of San Vittore was built between the 8th and 9th century over the remains of a pagan temple (as is often the case) dating back to 800-900 BCE. The baptistery was built in the 10th century and is notable for its octagonal shape; a font sits in the indented center of the building.

Il Battistero di of San Giovanni -- built in the 10th century

The campanile (bell tower) was striking, figuratively as well as literally, and when it does, one can easily watch the machinations of its apparatus since the bells and their workings are not hidden inside the gray and beige stone tower. Instead, they sit atop the tower like birds in a metal nest.

The campanile with bells exposed on the top

Nearby, a peaceful avenue of trees holds several plaques on stakes which memorialize the fallen of WWI, all most likely from the town of Arsago Seprio.

If you look closely, you can see the stakes near each tree trunk

Cap. Magg. Vanoni Mario - Caduto Per La Patria Corporal-Major (Paratrooper) Mario Vanoni - Fallen For His Country Dec. 10, 1915

Past Arsago Seprio, we pulled off at the Santuario Madonna della Ghianda in Mezzana (near Somma Lombardo). Adorned with several beautiful frescoes, this church was built to memorialize the place where, in the 13th century, the Madonna appeared amongst the tree branches to a deaf and mute shepherd girl. After seeing the Madonna, the girl was miraculously cured. Several beautiful frescoes adorn the walls of the church commemorating the event.

Unfortunately, all of my photos of this church turned out blurry.

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