Wednesday 25 June (12:45–5:00pm)
Il Vittoriale degli Italiani, Gardone Riviera
“I have seen a D’Annunzio play, and rather enjoyed it – fearful melodrama.” (Letter to Arthur McLeod, 17 January 1913, Lettersi. 505)
“On the feast of Epiphany, as a special treat, was given a poetic drama by D'Annunzio, La Fiaccola sotto il Moggio—The Light under the Bushel.
"It is a foolish romantic play of no real significance. There are several murders and a good deal of artificial horror. But it is all a very nice and romantic piece of make-believe, like a charade.”
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Twilight in Italy, by D. H. Lawrence
Considered by some travel guides as the highlight of Lake Garda, Il Vittoriale was formerly the villa and estate of Lawrence’s contemporary, the Italian playwright, poet, novelist, soldier and national public figure, Gabriele D’Annunzio (1863–1938). It is an extraordinary complex of buildings and gardens overlooking the lake, featuring, amongst other things, the ornately furnished villa itself (the Prioria), a neo-classical amphitheatre, a museum, D’Annunzio’s mausoleum, a rich collection of art and literature and, perched surreally up in the cypress trees of the park, the prow of the battleship Puglia, which D’Annunzio used in his “adventure” to lay claim to Fiume (now Rijeka) in 1919. The biplane which D’Annunzio used in another famous escapade during the First World War, “the flight over Vienna” of 1918, can also be seen hanging from the ceiling of one of the buildings of the villa.
Il Vittoriale is in itself a important site of general cultural and historical interest, but, for this conference, it is perhaps of particular interest for illuminating the life and work of one of Lawrence’s major Italian literary contemporaries, as well as for the insights it might offer into some of the artistic and historical contexts shared by the two writers. (Critics have sometimes compared the two writers in terms of apparently shared characteristics and concerns. As early as 1925, the critic Stuart Sherman, in a review of Lawrence’s St. Mawr, wrote: “In The Triumph of Death, for example, D’Annunzio worked out for middle-aged people, a generation ago, the entire course of exactly such passions as rage through The Rainbow and Women in Love …” Lawrence was singularly unimpressed by this comparison, however, and wrote back to Sherman, “I didn’t care for the comparison with Trionfo della Morte. D’Annunzio is a sensationalist, nearly always in bad taste …” Letters v. 276)
For further information and images of Il Vittoriale, see its dedicated website (in Italian): http://www.vittoriale.it/
Coach departure from Gargnano, 12:45, arrive in Gardone approx. 1:00.
Coach departure from Gardone, 4:45, arriving back at approx. 5:00.
Costs to be confirmed, but we expect the cost of the bus-fare to be modest; and the entrance tickets, for full access to Il Vittoriale, including a guided tour of the main house, are currently 16 euros full-price and 12 euros for the over-65s. However, we hope to arrange a discount on ticket prices for conference delegates. Tours of the house take place every 7 minutes in groups of ten, and take around 35 minutes. The visit to the rest of the estate (park and gardens, two small museums, the amphitheatre, auditorium, and mausoleum) requires around two hours. Two other types of ticket are available which exclude the tour of the house: a ticket at 13 euros (9 euros reduced) gives access to the “Hero Museum” along with everything else in the grounds, while a ticket at 8 euros (6 euros reduced) gives access to everything except that museum and the main house. (Please note that, for the tour of the house, bags and cameras need to be deposited at the cloakroom beforehand.)
Delegates to make their own arrangements for lunch. Refreshments are available in the grounds of Il Vittoriale, but there are also cafes and restaurants in Gardone.
Saturday 28 June (9:30am - 5:00pm)
Boat Trip to Riva
“I’m on the Lago di Garda. Riva is still Austria, but as Italian as an ice-cream man.” (Letter to Arthur McLeod, 17 September 1912. Letters i. 455)
“Now we are going to settle somewhere near here in Riva. It is quite beautiful, and perfectly Italian – about 5 miles from the frontier. The water of the lake is of the most beautiful dark blue colour you can imagine – purple in the shade, and emerald green where it washes over the white rocks. … There are roses and oleanders and grapes in the garden. Everywhere the grapes are ripe – vineyards with great weight of black bunches hanging in shadow. It is wonderful, and I love it.” ( Letter to Edward Garnett, 7 September 1912, Letters i. 447–8)
“So Riva: and there the lake-head glittering in the sun. They left their knapsacks at the station and set off along the white, hot, dusty road to the little town … near the quay of the lake rose the wide ancient tower with its great blue clock-face that showed the hours up to twenty-four. . . . And there was a friendliness, a glitter, an easiness that was delightful beyond words, southern in its easiness, and northern in its alert charm.” (Mr Noon p. 287)
Riva del Garda, at the narrow northern tip of Lake Garda and surrounded by dramatic mountain scenery, has been one of the lake’s most popular resorts since the late nineteenth century. It was here that Lawrence and Frieda first arrived at the lake on 4 September 1912 after their month-long journey – largely on foot – over the Alps from Bavaria. They stayed here, at the Villa Leonardi, for two weeks before taking the steamer down the lake to Gargnano on 18 September. On this trip, then, we may not exactly be following in Lawrence’s footsteps, but we will certainly be sailing in his wake!
Each leg of the journey will take around ninety minutes, so there will be plenty of time to soak up the spectacular views as we sail along the lake – and we will pass Muslone, above which is San Gaudenzio, where Lawrence and Frieda spent a week just before they left the lake in April 1913, as well as Campione, to which they made an excursion on 16 February of that year. Once at Riva, we may in fact follow in some of Lawrence’s footsteps after all, as we take a guided walk to relevant places of interest around the town.
Before taking the boat back to Gargnano, there will be roughly three to four hours of free time for delegates to explore and enjoy Riva on their own. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants to choose from for lunch, and for other sights and amenities in Riva please check out the local region’s tourist guide for Riva at http://www.gardatrentino.it/en/riva-del-garda/ The following website also provides similar information and a useful brief introduction to Riva:
Depart from Gargnano 9:30 arriving in Riva at approximately 11:00.
Depart from Riva 3:30 arriving back at Gargnano at approximately 5:00
Price of boat-fare to be confirmed, depending on numbers and size of boat.
Photo Courtesy of Paul Poplawski