Lake Garda seen by Sir D. H. Lawrence’s gaze – 2nd part
Towards Easter they decide to move to San Gaudenzio “a farm about two miles above the lake […] a lovely place. There is a garden around for over a mile, with vineyards and olive trees. It falls precipitously on the edge of the cliff above the lake. I sit and write in a desert lemon garden that catches the sun and keeps it.”
Lawrence finds himself living in a time when citrus crops are dying and lemon garden are abandoned because they are affected by a deadly disease. Moreover, the decline of their cultivation is due to many economic events that make them too expensive for big markets.
We are in 1913 and war winds are blowing over Europe. It is a time of change and transformation, which begins to imbue also Lawrence’s stories, an air of decline. Even in these small communities, the fascination for what is foreign, the myth of America, begins to arise, many emigrate, someone has already returned, but still wants to leave again. Like the story of John, actually Giacomo Triboldi, whom they met on one of their excursions to Gardola. One who worked hard in America, studied English, made his way and wanted to come back to the USA.
The writer’s narrative is particularly interesting not only because it describes the atmosphere of an era of the early twentieth century, so far away from our current feeling, but even because this experience is filtered through the gaze of a foreigner, an Englishman, certainly cultured and traveller, certainly with broader views than his compatriots of the time, but still anchored to prejudices and visions of Italy and Italianness.
Sometimes he has sharp and ironic judgments and does not always manage to grasp the essence of local characters. If, on one hand, Lawrence seems to fully grasp the naturalistic spirit of the place, appreciating its climate and landscape, on the other, he filters and reads inhabitants through the eyes of an English intellectual.
It is extraordinary to note how his observations on nature and landscape are still so current today and how walking between Villa di Gargnano and Gargnano you can still recognize many places he described that you can visit in our days, still so full of charm. This thanks to the fact that these places have survived from the wave of cementing and we have been able to preserve their ancient heart.
Curiosity and also good news: in 2017 San Gaudenzio lemon house, dating back to the mid-18th century, was purchased by a private family and brought back to life after a patient recovery work.
Cristina De Rossi
Italy4golf Italian Ambassador
Biblography David Herbert Lawrence by Stefania Michelucci – 2012 Grafica 5 edizioni, Mag, Il Sommolago, Asar
Cover image courtesy of Architect Thomas Ballhaus