Today my friends, I will not bother you with too much text – just a very small visual feast for your eyes (so I hope).
The Peacock, India’s national bird. Look how proud and majestic he sits here, seemingly without any care in the world, showing off his magnificent plumage for all to see. He was quite in a receptive mood when I was trying to take his pictures – I was able to get pretty close to him, nearly able to touch him. But, all my sweet talking was in vein, he was not prepared to open his feathers and display for us and my camera the famous ‘peacock fan’; and of course I was not one to complain, having been able to get this shot of him.
He was such a good bird, he allowed us to stay with him for quite some time, taking pictures occasionally. And somehow we had this feeling, that he knew that we came from far away, the land of his ancestors – and suddenly, out of the corner of my eyes I saw this most magnificent creature strutting across the lawn only a couple of meters away from us, it’s long tail feathers making a slight swishing sound, which must have caught my attention in the first place, I think – it was THE WHITE PEACOCK. But unlike his blue ‘cousin’ this one here was extremely shy – very happy to parade proudly up and down in front of us, seemingly urging us to take pictures like at a photo shoot, but not confident enough to allow us really close.
Neither Jo nor I had ever seen this kind of bird before. The beauty of this peacock literally took my breath away. Having seen so much beauty on that one day, we soon said good bye to the beautiful Park of the famous Villa Pallavicino, just outside Stresa on Lake Maggiore, which is literally a paradise of flowers and animals.
The Park was originally the idea of the Neapolitan statesman Ruggero Bonghi, who fell in love with Lake Maggiore and decided in1855 to purchase the land and build a small house for himself. In 1862 the family of the Marquises of Pallavicino acquired the property and began to improve it, extending the grounds, building drives suitable for carriages, embellishing the park with statues and transforming the modest house into the opulent 19th century Neoclassical mansion which still graces the hillside.
In 1952 Marchioness Luisa Pallavicino completed the family project with the addition of a zoo with animals from every corner of the globe. I was introduced to the Marchesa in the early 70s by a close Italian friend of mine who was a cousin of the Marchesa. She was such a charming and gracious lady who personally and proudly showed me around, introducing me to nearly every animal she had in her beloved parco, before we sat down in the cooling shade of one of the many magnificent Cypresses where we enjoyed our tea overlooking the picture postcard view of the Lago Maggiore. Sadly I only met her once again before her death in 1992 in Rome. So I was very happy of being able to visit once again after such a long time. Another time I will take you around a bit more.
(Photos: CS/Manningtree Archive)