Belvedere, Lago di Bolsena

18 March 2012
Words by Aaron Peters
Images by V&P
The town of Bolsena stands at the shore of Lago di Bolsena. Just below the old castle walls of the upper town, an imposing palazzo appends itself like a giant book-end to the huddled collection of modest dwellings that line the hillside. At the uppermost corner of the building sits a small room.

The acutely shaped palazzo thrusts conspicuously forward like a promontory.

Look closer at the room and you begin to notice small details. The rear wall follows the same alignment as the rampart wall of the castle behind. Light streams into the room through large windows on two sides, permitting low morning and afternoon sunlight to glance across the internal surfaces. The illumination renders delicate frescos and the ornate structural ceiling visible from below; elusive fragments of domesticity beneath the severe external skin.

The Unattainable Room
The panoramic views from the room must be impressive, the security afforded by the ponderous walls and elevation, reassuring. A charming combination of Appleton’s Prospect and Refuge that pricks some innate compulsive urge and draws the viewer towards it. However, the means of access to the room is disguised, hidden behind the façade of the building.

The responsibility for devising a solution is conferred upon the imagination, rather than presented as a readily perceptible, and therefore perfunctory, act.

You might imagine passing through a suite of public rooms, a circuitous ascent through a vast galley, or a closeted climb within a secret passage.

The unattainable room offers an end without a means, and is all the more compelling for it.