May 3, 2012

0193 SWITZERLAND (Ticino) - Madonna del Sasso church and Lago Maggiore

"When, by chance, you have a heart and a shirt, you have to sell the shirt to see the surroundings of Lake Maggiore..." wrote Stendhal in a letter to his sister, Pauline, in 1811. Lago Maggiore (literally Great Lake, but named in english Lake Maggiore), about 65km long, with a width between 1 to 4km, situated at 194m above sea level, and with a maximum depth of 372m, is located on the south side of the Alps, its shores covering a total lenght of 150km from Canton Ticino in Switzerland to Sesto Calende in Italy (Lombardy).

Wedged between the pre-alps, the lake, of glacial origin, is framed in its lower section by the soft hills of the "Novarese" region, and in the upper section, by high mountain peaks, some of which with perennial snow. These features make it possible that in the costal areas the climate to be temperate, milder in winter than in the inner areas and cooled down in summer by the breezes that blow on the water's surface changing its color.

The lake region is also exceptionally rich in contrasts, from the palm-lined lakeshores to the glaciers, from chic shopping to the ancient traditions of the unspoilt valleys, from extreme sports to enjoying the dolce vita. The populations that inhabited Lake Maggiore were in the course of the centuries quite varied, from the Celts followed the Gaelic invadors, then barbarians and subsequently the Romans and finally governed by the lordships of the Visconti, Sforza and Borromeo.

Even if Switzerland holds only about 20% of the Lake Maggiore, it's a destination sought by tourists. Most striking of all Locarno's sights is the Franciscan Santuario della Madonna del Sasso church, an impressive ochre vision floating above the municipality of Orselina on a wooded crag (sasso means rock) and consecrated in 1487 on the spot where, seven years earlier, the Virgin had appeared to Brother Bartholomeo da Ivrea from the San Francesco monastery in the town.

About the stamps
The first two stamps are part of the series Pro Patria (1969, respectively 1978). Pro Patria is a Swiss patriotic and charitable organization, founded in 1909 aiming to give meaning to the Swiss national holiday, August 1, by collecting donations to the benefit of social and cultural works of national public interest. Pro Patria collects donations principally through the sale of postage stamps, postcards and badges, in cooperation with the Swiss Post. Post offices sold Federal Celebration postcards from 1910 to 1960 and postage stamps since 1938. The price of these cards and stamps (marked with "Pro Patria" since 1952) exceeds their denomination, with the surcharge representing a donation to Pro Patria. You can find all Pro Patria stamps issued over the years here.

The series issued on May 29, 1969, Pro Patria - Art, includes 4 stamps, designed by E. Witzig and depicting stained glass with religious subjects:
• Klosterkirche Konigsfelden (10c+10c)
• Münster of Bern (20c+10c) - It's on the postcard 0193
• Historisches Museum Basel (30c+10c)
• Swiss Landesmuseum Zürich (50c+20c)

The series issued on May 26, 1978, Pro Patria - Castles, includes also 4 stamps, designed by Anne Gertle and depicting castles and fortifications:
• Hagenwil (20c+10c)
• Burgdorf (40c+20c)
• Tarasp (70c+30c)
• Chillon (80c+40c) - It's on the postcard 0193

The third stamp is part of the series Pro Juventute. Pro Juventute is a charitable foundation established in 1912 and dedicated to supporting the rights and needs of Swiss children and youth. Since 1913, the Swiss post office has issued an annual charity stamp series to support the work of Pro Juventute. You can find all Pro Juventute stamps issued over the years here.

The series Juventa Pro - Birds, issued on December 1, 1971, includes 4 stamps, designed by Richard Gerbig and depicting native birds:
• Common Redstart / Phoenicurus phoenicurus (10c+10c)
• Bluethroat / Luscinia svecica (20c+10c)
• Peregrine Falcon / Falco peregrinus (30c+10c) - It's on the postcard 0193
• Mallard / Anas platyrhynchos (40c+20c)

Lake Maggiore - Wikipedia
Madonna del Sasso, Switzerland - Wikipedia

Sender: Inge / Egni (postcrossing)
Sent from near Stäfa (Switzerland), on 30.03.2012

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