Cannobio is one of the prettiest places in Verbania, but it contains two churches that aren’t at all for sissies. The main church in town (next to the bus station) looks like a mafia movie come to life, dark, with lots of red velvet drapery everywhere. This is the church the children in Verbania Treasure refer to as the Dracula Church. The other little church down by the waterfront (where George locks himself in during the rainstorm) is a charming little confection covered inside with baby angel statues. But it’s a little daunting due to a reason I decided not to explore in the book. This church is known for its most valuable relic, a painting of the Madonna that is supposed to have cried tears of blood. This fact somehow detracted from the otherwise happy atmosphere in the building, and I’m guessing that while George took refuge there he read the leaflet in English explaining it all. Harmless babies or no babies, it was just not a place I would have wanted to be trapped in alone. If George had kept a few coins in his pocket, he could have paid to light the ceiling up temporarily in order to see the frescoes better. My guess is that he read about the painting during his first minute in the building, and made an immediate and unsuccessful bid to get out of there. I can’t blame him.


Cannobio is a candy box of a town, with a perfectly kept waterfront, all the stores occupied and well maintained, and numerous hotels and restaurants catering to tourists. But it isn’t so cleaned up you won’t find a store with burlap sacks full of herbs to buy by the pound, or a shop with a hundred different kinds of olive oil for sale, or fall in step behind a monk with a tonsure. You can also get a drink of lion water at Grandma Sybil’s favorite fountain. And it tastes pretty good.

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