Ingmar Bergman was here
Sweden’s wildly beautiful Baltic islands attract artists and recluses alike
here in the 1960s. He planned to make Through a Glass Darkly in the Orkneys, off Scotland, but the producers persuaded him to look at Faro first. It was love at first sight, he said, and he not only decided to film here but became a permanent resident.
My husband and I walk on the beach. The light is utterly magical in the early evening — everything glows and a natural arch of rock stands in its own pool of clear water. Further along is the fishing village of Lauterhorn, deserted in the evening. The nougat-grey stone buildings and red wooden huts glisten in the brilliant light.
We stay next in the appropriately named Slow Train B&B (don’t expect early breakfast here), in a creamcoloured stone house. It’s run by a father-and-daughter team, who are fascinating eccentrics; they also own a bookshop and a French bistro. Inside the shop, a man in a black bowler hat sits behind an old-fashioned till, strumming a guitar. The bistro is like an old American diner, with rusting vintage cars and antique metallic fridges, all set in a garden of red roses.
On the rooftop is a wreath with a cross in a circle and two fir tree branches poking up like a stag’s horns. ‘‘These protect the roofs from witches and evil,’’ owner Thomas explains. ‘‘The wreath is known as Tahlagskrans. It’s a sign that the roof has been properly thatched, and blesses it.’’
The tradition continues today as everyone joins together to help, and afterwards the owner throws a big feast to say thank you.
These islands are full of tradition and full of the unexpected. They draw you in and cast a spell. It’s easy to see why Bergman was smitten.