Coming to Sirmione was a special experience for me. A special treat actually. I had the chance to walk on the soil where the feet of La Diva Divina, the great soprano singer, Maria Callas, once tread.
I love opera. In those days when I was involved in a choir and was offered roles in certain stage plays and musicals, I thought I had a promising future in classical music. I saw myself as the next famous baritone singer (I lack the vocal chords of a tenor) and be called Il Barone of Opera. I was too ambitious. I was inspired by Maria Callas and her life, and how she struggled to become an icon.
I couldn’t be admitted to the international conservatory in the nearby town because of two reasons- one, I lack the basic elements of classical music training, and two, the school was almost exclusively for the well-off families. It was really expensive. And I was simply the son of a domestic helper and a factory worker.
Now, when I have stopped dreaming of it, all of a sudden they opened a public school that specializes in music. Fuck you Fate! Fuck you very much!
Back to Maria Callas. In the early years of her marriage with Giovan Battista Meneghini, they resided in this villa and invited many friends and important personalities such as Franco Zefirelli and the famous tenor singer Giuseppe di Stefano.
She loved this small marvellous town. She once said, “Vorrei terminare i miei giorni qui a Sirmione, in questo paradiso terrestre e qui essere sepolta (I would like to end my days here in Sirmione, in this earthly paradise and be buried here).” This was before she met another rich asshole in the person of Onassis.
Why did she love this small city by the lake?
Because of this interesting castle…. The Castello Scaligero, built by the noble family Scaligeri, Lords of Verona.
The boat rides….
A therapeutic bath. Do not try diving into the middle. It’s boiling hot.
A holy woman lived here….
|This was the house of Benedetta Bianchi Porro. Now it's a hotel.|
The streets are small but pretty….
The view of the lake. Serene. Beautiful. Poetic.
When she left Meneghini, she never went back to her beloved villa. But in her last years, she confided to one of our closest friends that she desired to be back to her beloved Sirmione.