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St Giulio's Isle: Gabriel's Guide

A guide to Isola San Giulio, its history and mysteries. Two thousand years of events and legends are noted, proceeding along the Way of Silence that encircles the island.  A place for meditation, of inspiration to poets and artists, the island has become a spiritual centre, its abbey the hub


St Giulio’s isle, loved by artists and poets, appears serene and peaceful, yet for two thousand years tumult and warfare have reigned. The island has hosted kings, queens, emperors and saints; it has suffered raids, plague and sieges. The Emperor Otto the Great, Queen Willa with her kingdom’s treasure, the monk, architect, musician and reformer of monasteries William of Volpiano: all were on the island.  A tiny island that has had an important role in history, lying as it does on the main route from Novara and Milan to the Alps, it has also given rise to mysterious happenings: once, they say, here were dragons. This is a guide to its history and mysteries to take with you around the island; as you walk the path called now the Way of Silence fragments of history and legend are brought briefly to life.

120 pages, fully illustrated with colour photos by the author. Wyvern Works 2015

Along the Old Way

a pilgrimage from Orta to Varallo in the company of Samuel Butler

‘But again to return to Varallo, or rather the way of reaching it by the Colma. There is nothing in North Italy more beautiful than this walk, with its park-like chestnut-covered slopes of undulating pasture land dotted about with the finest thatched barns to be found outside Titian. We might always fancy that Handel had it in mind when he wrote his divine air “Verdi Prati”. Certainly no country can be better fitted either to the words or music.’  Samuel Butler, Ex Voto, 1888

The account of a  modern pilgrimage following the old path between the Holy Mountains of Orta San Giulio and Varallo Sesia.More than a mere guide to the track, it also tells of history, legends, personalities  and folklore, while relating the trials of the author along the way. Tales of saints: St Francis, St Charles Borromeo, and of heretics - Fra Dolcino - and witches. And more. While Samuel Butler is ever present...

100 pages illustrated with colour photos, Wyvern Works 2010.

I Green Men Cusiani

The Wild Man and the Green Man: both are omnipresent in the Cusian area. The Wild Man appears in many local stories of the mountains, the Green Man with his foliate mask can be seen in decorations even on the island of St Giulio. A brief history of this figure and its presence in Romanesque architecture.

Le Rive, gennaio-aprile 2001. Editice Press Grafica, Gravellona Toce.


Also handbooks for the use of Video in Community Comunication published by Hoepli and for use in seminars with La Biennale di Venezia

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© Gabriel Griffin