The Floating Piers by Ellie


Ellie was lucky enough to visit Italy and experience The Floating Piers, a 3km installation running through Lake Iseo and the town of Sulzano. She writes:

After a night and day exploring the canals of Nevaglia and architectural delights of the stunning city of Milan, we took a train from Central station to Sulzano for an evening stroll on The Floating Piers, an installation on Lake Iseo by the American artist Christo, the focal point for this spontaneous trip. The forecast had been for heavy rain over the approaching weekend and as the weather had been so glorious we just didn’t want to risk missing out and went straight there bags and all.

The piers in reality were a hundred times better than I could ever have imagined and than any photographs could ever do justice. Despite having spent a lot of time in the sea and boats in general, the tactile quality of these modular structures allowed a unique connection with the surface of the water itself.

Underfoot the springiness of the buoyant interlocking cubes, the thick felt underlay and heavy golden fabric lent itself to a smooth wet sand. Looking like a beach but way better in fact, and I love a bit of sand between my toes! 

Just as we reached the end of the first walkway we were ushered onto the island by some very stylish stewards – best uniforms I’ve seen in a long time if ever.


As the skies grew darker and the wind began to whip, the walkways rose and fell, twisting into a mesmerising ripple of spun gold. I was glad we’d made it across in what seemed to be perfect time.
We made our way up through the drama of the thunderstorm into the foothills of Monte Isola where we sampled some delicious Curtefranca bianco as the calm of sunset approached, watching the now deep terracotta path of the piers and the twinkling town of Sulzano light up beneath us as darkness fell.

Eventually it was time for us too to meander back barefoot through the sea of selfies for a well earned pizza.


We stayed in Marone – Zone, a 20 minute taxi drive up into the hills to the west of Lake Iseo.
Staying way up here afforded us the delight of the journey back down each morning, snaking through the rising mists as the sun steamed the forests dry. Zigzagging through the lush green of the mountain with the lake laid out beneath us was a journey I’d happily make every morning.


Taking a boat from Marone across the lake to the other side of Monte Iseo was another stroke of luck, and from here we were able to walk the other side of the 100,000 square meters of shimmering yellow fabric which circled the small island of San Paolo. The structure created a wide, beach like bank of space where visitors were able to enjoy the lavish views and the cool of the willow trees usually overhanging the lake itself. Laying in the shade of San Paolo, feeling the stretch of the modular structure underneath was an hour of utter relaxation.


Experiencing the undulating motion of the water in this way was something special, and creating this completely accessible space for the public to enjoy a perspective afforded previously only to those with access to a boat, was a wonderful gift from the artist to the people of Lake Iseo and all her visitors.  The recipients of this treasure were not at all unthankful, as Christo himself cruised past on the last day of his installation the response was incredibly emotive.  Waves of cheers and gratzias erupted as his boat passed by, the crowds rising to wave to him and express their gratitude almost brought me to tears. It was really quite something indeed. I feel very fortunate to have been able experience this unique piece of art. Thank you Christo and of course Yelo for letting me go!



All photos by Ellie Kelly.