DAY 2 of 2 / Chapter 3 of 4 – Italy
Lake Maggiore (Punta Granelli) Lake Maggiore (Caldè) – 2 km
There are some places in the world that have a magic about them. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the depths of a forest or city, in the desert, or on an island in the middle of an ocean, what matters is that you can feel a special, palpable, brilliant energy.
We’re looking for magic places, and we might have found them at Lake Maggiore.
We’re in Caldè, one of the many small villages that sit on the edges of the lake. We leave the small town behind us, and join a path that runs along the coastline of Lake Maggiore.
We see a small stone tower rising from a rock, overgrownwith vegetation, and we begin to feel a positive energy.
We continue along the path past the tower. STOP! The track is blocked by an old, rusty gate with a no entry sign.
The energy we felt before is getting stronger. We can’t stop now. Finding a way through, we keep going.
Suddenly we see what look like big chimneys emerging from the thick vegetation. They look like the houses of magicians or fairys.
Following the path, we find an abandoned site. It’s completely overgrown with vegetation that blocks out all sunlight.
Suddenly, we feel that special energy that we’re always looking for flowing through us.
We’re thrown into another world, like Alice and her adventures in Wonderland.
As if it were a fairytale, we find ourselves surrounded by a thousand colours and people.
There’s life on every wall. One message strikes us particularly: Rotte dei Sogni (dream pathways).
Dream pathways. We’re following them. So are the two people on the wall who are blowing the sails on their boat with all their might in order to follow the pathway of their dreams.
We’re exhilarated by this magical place. We feel like we’ve hit treasure.
There are dragons and aliens. We have a strong sensation that we’re not alone. We feel surrounded by friends.
We walk between the buildings, peering into their many openings to see who lives inside.
We look around and try to imagine what this place once was.
And so we leap into another story.
“Millions of years ago, mother nature decided to fill this place with large quantities of chalk. In the seventeenth century, man learned how to use it, and the Furnaces of Caldè were built.The chalk was quarried nearby, then broken up and heated in the furnaces. This produced lime which was then used in various industries such as construction, agriculture (as a fertiliser) and also as a disinfectant and cleaning product.
The furnaces have conical-shaped chimneys that are up to 10 metres tall, with a base diameter of 5 metres. The chalk was fed into the top of the furnace and the lime was extracted in lumps from openings at the bottom, where the combustion chambers were”.
The furnaces look to us like magicians’ houses, or where the thousands of characters that we can feel here reside.
We lie down next to them.
We walk along the path, which is increasingly overgrown. Then thetrack ends, and we discover even more characters living on the walls of abandoned structures.
The buildings around the furnaces were once storage places for lime, fuel and gunpowder – which was used to break the rocks in the quarries – and equipment for weighing and transporting materials.
There are jetties and little ports where boats could dock to transport lime to Milan, passing through Lake Maggiore and Ticino on the way.
We met an old fisherman in the village who told us that some boats have sunk to the bottom of the lake, near where the furnaces are. Nobody knows if the owners of the boats sunk them themselves when the furnaces closed down, or if it was committed by the Nazis during the war.
As well as daydreaming, you can also lie down and enjoy the sun and the breeze that skims across the lake, have a secret barbecue with friends, and meet some of the graffiti artists who create the characters of this place, and take care of it too.
You can meet pirates and giants, or find yourself in the middle of a rave where anything can happen.
We go into the last abandoned building. We’re left open mouthed. It’s the most surprising and magical place of all.
We’re under the sea, and surrounded by blue waters and every type of fish you can imagine.
We find some wrecks at the bottom of the sea.
We’re ecstatic about discovering such an incredible spot in this abandoned place, hidden away from view by its thick vegetation.
The Furnaces of Caldè have shown us history and at the same time introduced us to a surreal new world. Every one of us can find places like this if we follow our own pathways. Our pathways of dreams.