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Hidden Treasures - Itinerary Arco City of Air

This itinerary is dedicated to the age of Sanatoriums and to the presence in Arco of Vasco Pratolini for the renowned therapies, from 1933 to 1935, with further references to other Sanatorium guests and to other writers who praised the town in their works. Excerpts from Vasco Pratolini, Goffredo Parise, Gesualdo Bufalino, and Sandor Marai.


 
Start: Arco, San Pancrazio Hospital (S. Caterina street) 
End: Vigne, Villa Angerer (return with the bus Line 1)
Length: 2 km
Duration: 1 h
Elevation difference: none
Difficulty: easy
Notes: Suitable for strollers and wheelchairs. 

1. San Pancrazio Hospital 

It was built at the beginning of 1900 as a hospital dedicated to the cure of lungs diseases. It was the first one of this age, when the reputation of Arco as healing center was yet to come. Of course the fresh air and the great climate are perfect for the treatment of lung disease, in addition to walks and wellness therapies to relax oneself from the daily stress, but people with lung issues were not accepted in luxury hotels (except from some very important guests, whose illness was not publicly known). For this reason the Suore di Carità of S. Croce created a hospital focused on the cure of tuberculosis through the most modern therapies, a suitable distance away from the more posh parts of the town. It opened in September 1902 and to this date remains a hospital dedicated to rehabilitative cures. At the beginning of the Thirties the roman painter Scipione (Gino Bonichi) was hospitalized there: he was not able to overcome the disease and died in this house on the 9th of November 1933. 

"This is Segantini's town and, still today, a place of healing. A painter died here, who was really close to my heart: Scipione; and the woman I will talk to you about, Scipione must have seen her from the window of his hospital room. His "Men that turn around" must have seen her, and maybe its is because of this that they bear the horrifying look of sinners and avengers. The sanatorium where we stayed in was fifty meters away from the one Scipione died in. Both buildings were isolated in a street in the suburbs and fenced in, half by a gate, half by a mesh fence. Between the road and the residential area, [were] the countryside and the railroad, in the back a bluff, where a path ran up to the peak of the mountain, to an ancient ruined castle. Scipione, dying, could not see the mountain; the last picture he had of nature were fields, the plane trees of the street, the sky, low on the horizon, always gray, gloomy sometimes, overseas and dark; tangible in this light, the presence of the lake, Lake Garda, past the countryside and the town center, far away, where whistle of the train faded.[I wouldn't have remembered Scipione if it wasn't for this light, unspoken, but so uniquely his, the winter after his death, that he had not time to paint; if not for his "Men that turn around" that he kept in his sick room and which have always, for years and years, been connected to that woman. They are looking at me and my four companions.] 
VASCO PRATOLINI, Gli uomini che si voltano "Men that turn around" (from Sentimental Diary), A. Mondadori, 1993
2. MAR Station 

The Mori-Arco-Riva railway, better known as M.A.R, was inaugurated the 28th of January 1891 with a solemn day of ceremonies and celebratory events. The chronicles of the time tells us about the presence of numerous authorities at the lunch, which was held at the Hotel Nelböck (the building in Magnolie street, which later became the Sanatorium "delle Palme", then later Armani Hospital and recently disused) and of a grand ball held in Arco. This railway was created with the recently rich people visiting the Kurort in mind, who would come from beyond the Brennero pass, and spend the winter months in Arco, but the railway eventually remained active until 1936, carrying numerous guests to the sanatoriums to which the city had turned to after the decline of the Habsburg Empire and the end of the Bélle époque. After the suppression of the railway, an "automotive service" was established, as the press of the times used to call it, not without controversy against the big change. Nowadays the public transport  services uses the old station of the MAR, the largest in the area, as a bus station.

"The town seemed lost under the snow, its inhabitants emigrated due to melancholy. Franco used to say: "You can be silent like a tree". But his scolding didn't favor the conversation. He kept saying: "It seems like everything ends here, with us. Yet I know that in fifteen minutes by train there is the lake. And in one hour there is the city, with the cinematographers, the houses, the people walking on the snow. If I then should take the train farther away, me on the train for hours and hours, I will be in my town. I know that my town is still alive. The fishing boats return from the sea, the men go to a cafe that I know – there is even a billiard with balls – they swallow hot drinks to recover. Further south there is Sicily." 
VASCO PRATOLINI, Taccuino del convalescente 1935-1936 (from Sentimental Diary), A. Mondadori, 1993
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