I clearly remember the first time I visited the Antonio Calderara house-cum-museum, an ancient seventeenth century building, embellished by a fine set of columns.
It was a clear, crisp Spring day, one of the kind you can only experience by Lake Orta. The light filtering through to those rooms in that particular ancient building appeared to embrace the works on display : a most extraordinary collection of over three hundred invaluable sculptures and precious oil paintings.
This master of Abstract Art, who originally came from the Milan area, chose to settle in the tranquility amid the hills of Cusio, in the tiny hamlet called Vacciago di Ameno, virtually leading his life in ascetic isolation.
He must have been a singular character, an agreeable, witty man, elegant and authoritative with his big, bushy Garibaldi beard and moustache. His wife Carmela was always close by as were his reliable secretary Annamaria, his dachshund and Gertrude the tortoise.
The master managed to create a clique of artists around himself in his beautiful dwelling where he often hosted foreign friends. He exchanged works with them, which enabled him to assemble the most extraordinary collection: the artists whose works are on display include Lucio Fontana, Jochims Reimer, Piero Manzoni, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Vasarely Victor and Abe Nobuya.
On the way out from the Calderara museum, even those who (like myself) are not experts in modern Art will experience the sensation that they are going home all the richer for that encounter with the subtle colours and atmosphere of serenity, rigorous, refined geometric shapes, light without shade. There are also less abstract works of Art to be enjoyed, like the views over the lake Orta and the island of San Giulio, the still life pictures, the portraits of his wife and his adored daughter Gabriella.
Let me say that when we come into contact with great Art, everything seems so much better!