Encounter with landscape


The First Day  

     Sandro Zendralli is a painter and architect who has his studio in Bellinzona, administrative capital of the Italian-speaking sector of southern Switzerland. Those wishing to undertake the leisurely trip northward from Milan as their starting point may depart well after breakfast and still, upon arrival in Bellinzona, have ample time for lunch.

     While any journey beginning from the Lombard capital directed southward into Italy is immediately accompanied by expectations of delights to come, this sense of anticipation is also mingled with a certain trepidation in the face of the all too possible promise of encountering moments of adventurous unpredictabilty along the way.

     A trip northward from Milan to Switzerland, on the other hand, is made in the certitude of entering a seemingly effortless civic serenity experienced the moment the border is crossed. Travellers must therefore calculate the exchange rate from chaotic spontaneity against the perhaps less poetic coinage of dependability.

    If customs officials had asked us the purpose of our visit, we had our answer ready. We were travelling north to see the new paintings of Sandro Zendralli. Such indeed was the scope of our journey.
    As the fertile plains of Lombardy fall behind us and give way to verdant hills, the eye accustoms itself at every turn to a greater and greater variety of landscape. One feels himself truly in another land.

     The lakes up there are very beautiful and provide a sort of consolation for the imperious presence of all the immovable mountains, which seem to gaze down as if sitting in judgement over the insouciant frivolity of lakeside vacationers.

     But were would these lakes be without the mountains?

    With a little extra time on our hands, we came through the Saint Gottardo and passed out into Cantoncino at Airolo, in the Val Leventino, and continued from there to Geronico with its romanesque church dedicated to Saint Nicolao, then on toward Biasca between vinyards ripening in the sun, chestnut trees, and an abundance of other examples of what could easily have been the fauna of the Mediterranean coast less than two hundred kilometers to the south.

     In a matter of no time the road enters into the wide valley of the Ticino River that lies before us, the beloved Ticino flowing on its way to join waters with the Po near Pavia, Italy.

     It comes to mind that one could procure a boat and, heading downstream, end up unimpeded at Venice on the Adriatic Sea. While contemplating this hypothetical canoe excursion we came into Bellinzona, capoluogo of Canton Ticino. From the hilltops, the imposing Thirteenth Century fortresses of the Visconti heralded our arrival with imponderable indifference.

    The locality where the artist Sandro Zendralli conducts his daily struggle is on the second floor of a large building of industrial appearance standing at the outskirts of Bellinzona, in a tranquil and prosperous neighbourhood called Giudiasco. Below the windows, trains are occasionally perceived, racing quietly northward and southward as if in demonstration of not only the Swiss nation's economic prosperity but also its efficiency: the sight of the trains caused our thoughts to wander momentarily to the paintings of Giorgio de Chirico.

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