LAKE GARDA, ITALY: Lake Garda is in Italy’s famous Lakes Region. Lake Como is the probably the most widely known lake and it’s very popular with visitors from abroad. Italians tend to prefer Lake Orta, while Lake Garda is very popular with Germans and Austrians. Afterall, Lake Garda belonged to Austria until after WWI. The place still has a strong German feel and people there are just as likely to speak German as Italian. At 50km in length and almost 20km wide, it is the largest Italian lake. People have settled on and the near the lake since 2000BC. The Ostrogoths fortified a nearby hill and then a harbour was built. It came under Venetian control and those influences can still be seen. Much of the harbour was filled in and that is where many of today’s lakefront restaurants and hotels sit. The Giardinetto is a hotel and restaurant that sits just metres from the lake. Our meal started with a complimentary appetizer that included whole (heads, tails attached), deepfried sardines. I stuck with the calamari. I then enjoyed my main, a seafood pasta— lobster, so it was not local, but it sure was tasty. While we did not stay at the hotel, here is the Trip Advisor link to Giardinetto, Lake Garda, a very pretty place.
Shot handheld with a Nikon D300 and AFS 16-85 lens at 40mm, f29, 1/80 sec, ISO 1250. Photo by John Ecker, pantheon photography
BRESSANONE CATHEDRAL, ITALY: Bressanone is also known as Brixen, its name when the town was part of Austria. It was annexed by Italy following the First World War. The Cathedral is a major feature in the town, located on a large public square. It was first built in the 10th century and rebuilt in the 13th. The current Baroque structure dates from 1745. Walking through the town, it feels more like Austria than Italy. Most people speak German and the restaurants tend to feature German fare. This photo was taken at dusk, before a huge storm that brought hail and heavy rains.
Shot using a tripod with a Nikon D3100; Nikkor 10-24mm lens at 10 mm; f7.1, 1/2 1600 ISO. Photo by John Ecker, Pantheon Photography.
BEACH REMEMBERED, NORMANDY, FRANCE: June 6 is the anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Operation Overlord. The Canadians took Juno Beach that day. They landed near Courseulles. Advance bombardments by air and sea before the landings had done a good job. German beach defenses were quickly stopped, with some accounts noting that Canadian landing craft were not being shot at just 15 minutes after the Juno assault began. Today, the shoreline looks much as it did almost 70 years ago. Period photos show many landmarks that still exist today. The top photo shows defeated German troops guarded by their Canadian captor. The bottom photo is a modern day shot near the same spot. John Ecker | pantheon photography
CANADIAN MEMORIAL, VIMY, FRANCE: I’ve visited Canada’s Memorial a few times over the years. Each time, the skies have been mostly gloomy, adding an even great sense of solemnity. When the clouds do break, and the sun shines on the bright white stone, the sight’s true beauty emerges. The memorial overlooks the Douai plain in northern France, about ten kilometers from the town of Arras.
On April 9, 1917 the Canadian Corps was ordered to seize Vimy Ridge. The heavily-fortified seven-kilometre ridge held a commanding view over the Allied lines. Previous French attacks had failed with over 100,000 casualties.
The names of 11,285 Canadian soldiers who were killed in France and whose final resting place was then unknown are carved into the stone. Facing the Douai visitors can see other places where Canadians fought and died. 7,000 plus more are buried in 30 war cemeteries within a 20-kilometre radius of the Memorial.
At the base of the Memorial, these words appear:
To the valour of their
Countrymen in the Great War
And in memory of their sixty
Thousand dead this monument
Is raised by the people of Canada
The Memorial was designed by Canadian architect and sculptor Walter Allward. The foundation of the memorial is a bed of 11,000 tonnes of concrete. It is reinforced with hundreds of tonnes of steel. The figures were carved on site. The large cloaked figure on the front (east) side, was carved from a single, 30-tonne block.
Over the decades, the memorial became weather worn and damaged by the elements. In 2007 a major re-construction and restoration project was completed. The work was massive. The main elements of the memorial were pretty much dismantled. The monument was re-pointed; damaged stone was replaced; lighting and draining was improved.
Many people assume that the ‘front’ of the memorial is on the approach from the parking area. On the contrary the front is actually on the opposite side. To full appreciate this sculpture, it is necessary to walk to the edge of the lawn in front of the monument, with your back to the Douai plain.
Nearby the memorial is the Vimy Canadian Cemetery. Row, upon row of graves– many without names.
Photos by John Ecker | Pantheon Photography
CATHEDRAL OF NOTRE DAME, NOYON, FRANCE: This battle-scarred cathedral is still a wonder to visit. This is where Charlemagne was crowned in 768, as was the first Capetian King, Hugh Capet, in 987. That original cathedral burned in 1131, and then was rebuilt between 1145 and 1235. It is an excellent example of early Gothic architecture in France. The Town of Noyon was occupied by German forces in both the First and Second World Wars. Internal and external walls still reveal the damage from the battles that raged in Noyon. This photo shows scattered shrapnel damage on an exterior wall, a permanent reminder of the wars that have ravaged this beautiful cathedral. Shot handheld with a Nikon D300, Nikkor AF-S 16-85mm lens at 34mm, f11, 1/640 sec. ISO 2000. Photo by John Ecker.