President's Remarks

Laura Thompson

 Ciao, WASLA newsletter readers! I’m back in the saddle after three magical weeks touring northern Italy, Croatia, and Greece. I already miss my morning cappuccinos and chocolate croissants; my afternoon margherita pizza and gelato; and of course, the delectable wine.  Although I can’t recreate every sip or bite of Mediterranean cuisine, I’ll always have the lovely memories of the region to draw back on as stimulus for my work and visions of the Italian lifestyle to inspire my own. Each town we passed through was uniquely charming in its very own way, but to spare you all from the minutia of my often-lengthy story-telling, I’ll insert an image and a short caption per each. As the say, a picture itself is worth a thousand words!

Como & Brunate

A quick ride up the Funicular grants you these breathtaking views of the lake and rugged mountains. Golden sunbeams seem to drench this dramatic landscape in a way unique to this region alone.


Shop-lined, terraced streets flow out into bustling boulevards which are lined by shady trees. Several restaurants and cafés had patio dining space completely under the cover of intertwined wisteria or lush branches of trees.




One of Varenna’s most unique attribute is the Fiumelatte (seasonal, and shortest river in Italy) which cuts through the town. The source flows from a cave up in the mountains above the town. Just before reaching the source, a small park offers quick respite and a drink of fresh water before continuing your climb.









Situated on a narrow peninsula of Lake Garda, Sirmione is best-known for Castello Scaligero and the Old Town which is nestled in its protective walls.  The Old Town is adorned with Bougainvillea that provides a splash of color amongst the town’s tan and brown stone buildings and streets.









Perhaps the city has been overromanticized because of its role in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, but that didn’t stop me from joining the floods of people (this picture was taken early in the morning, before the gates were even open) to visit Casa di Giulietta. The intimate courtyard hosts a bronze statue of the fictional character, whose right bosom is polished by those who seek luck in finding love. The archway entrance leading to the courtyard is covered, floor to ceiling, in love notes. Although I know the space’s history isn’t true, and that the story is just imagination, but I left this space feeling light with my heart aflutter.





Padua isn’t unique for having grand piazzas, but my experience in Piazza dei Signori was unlike any other. The Italians share common city space as if it were an extension of their own homes. Piazzas have commonly been called the living rooms of the city, and Piazza dei Signori felt like the living room of a large family reunion.


The fortress walls of Dubrovnik seem to rise out of the sea, seamlessly constructed upon the rocky cliffsides. It’s amazing that portions of these walls have stood, well-preserved since the 14th century.

Fira and Oia (Santorini)

From the Caldera, looking up at the island of Santorini, you may hardly even notice the cities skirting the ridgeline of the island. What looks to be calcium deposits from afar, is in fact the distinctive white Cycladic architecture of the area. Within the terraced towns, the funky and abnormal-shaped buildings seem perfectly nestled into the slopes but create beautiful contrast against the deep blue waters all around.

I hope that these images inspire you, and that one day you can find yourself immersed in the beauty of this amazing region. As a landscape architect, a trip like this evokes such a passion for the use of space and intelligent use of our lands’ resources. As a region with so much history - with so much of its original buildings and landscapes still standing the test of time - there is equally so much inspiration to be drawn from it.

Washington Chapter American Society of Landscape Architects 
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