Monday, April 25, 2016

Over-scheduled even in Italy - but lots to show for it


I am not complaining, but I did notice that I felt over-scheduled by the Friday. I just wanted to be lazy, drink my cappuccino slowly, stay in my slippers and then get lost in Florence uncovering antiques and fabrics. But we had 4 days of tours scheduled....I had once heard one of guests say that he LOVED the tours - and I now see he is a man with a great strong mind and loves the learning. It suits him. I am suited for slower, lazier days.

But....the tours were magnificent and as one the statue of Fortuna in Villa La Pietra implied and another friend pointed out, the week was less about chronos time than Kairos time. Chronos, of course is measured time, the root of chronology. It is seconds, minutes, days, years, a life, then a death. Kairos time is made of magic. It is made of moments, opportunities, a fruit that is perfectly ripe for the picking, a synchronicity (well, there's that root word again!) a blessing. It may, of course, be some shadowy version too, wrong place / wrong time. But this week felt full of the former - a week which went by quickly, but seemed full of magic and mystery and ah-ha moments that changed us. Changed me, certainly.

On the second day of the garden tours, we started at La Pietra, just a mile from Florence and the villa that was owned by Arthur Acton, an antique dealing Englishman and his wife, Hortense Mitchell, an heiress from a Chicago banking family whom he likely married for her money and status, all the while having a passionate affair with another woman, all very juicy and laid out diary-style in the book My Mother, My Father and His Wife Hortense  written by the granddaughter of the paramour. And, Grandma was a massively sexually liberated woman for her time or the writer has taken grand poetic license to make the book all the more juicy.

The highlight of the week for me were the interiors of La Pietra, left as they were when son Harold Acton died in 1994 - and left the way they had been before that for years. The will states that nothing can be removed, so there is a bottle of rubber cement still sitting at the desk in the Library! But the furnishings and art and accessories and wall coverings and fabrics almost made me weep. There is great emphasis on the Renaissance period, but Acton (the elder) had the most amazing eclectic taste - perhaps the first to display that? He arranged things with humor, with repetition, by theme and I felt at the end that everyone studying interior design has to see this home! It is the most perfect lesson in color study, texture, scale, pattern, the use of antiques both fine and common and all with an appreciation for beauty that surpasses anything I have seen before. Sadly, we couldn't take photos.
I'm just dying to get in there with a camera!

But where I could take photos, I will share them with you here....Villa La Pietra is a favorite of mine - for all the drama and romance and love of beauty for which it was created. Then, on Saturday, I spent the rainy day jumping puddles over the stones of Florence seeking refuge in restaurants, antique shops and cafes.

Villa La Pietra - NYU Florence Campus. Could you go to class here?

Limonaia at Castello. I just love the citrus trees!
Richard Ginori Porcelain Shop. Seriously, I wanted a lot of this.
Ridiculous antique shops. I wanted pretty much everything here, too.
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Country style.


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