"Palladian Days is nothing short of wonderful-part adventure, mystery, history, diary, and even cookbook. The Gables' lively account captures the excitement of their acquisition and restoration of one of the greatest houses in Italy. Beguiled by Palladio and the town of Piombino Dese, they trace the history of the Villa Cornaro and their absorption of Italian life. Bravo!" -Susan R. Stein, Gilder Curator and Vice President of Museum Programs, Monticello
In 1552, in the countryside outside Venice, the great Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio built Villa Cornaro. In 1989, Sally and Carl Gable became its bemused new owners. Called by Town & Country one of the ten most influential buildings in the world, the villa is the centerpiece of the Gables' enchanting journey into the life of a place that transformed their own. From the villa's history and its architectural pleasures, to the lives of its former inhabitants, to the charms of the little town that surrounds it, this loving account brings generosity, humor, and a sense of discovery to the story of small-town Italy and its larger national history.
Eighteen of the innovative 16th-century villas by Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio survive today in Italy's Veneto region, and one of them, Villa Cornaro, made it onto Town & Country's list of the world's 10 most important buildings. The sixth family to occupy this country house during its 450-year history, the Gables reside there for half the year (she's on the boards of various educational and musical organizations; he's a lawyer and author of a book on Venetian glass). Sally Gable portrays the villa, the people who live in the surrounding countryside and their fading traditions, which "may be in their last generation." In fluid prose, she recalls the 1987-1988 negotiations that led to the couple's purchase, the previous inhabitants and her research into the history of the palatial house, its 104 frescoes and Palladio himself. Surmounting swarming bees and the usual maintenance problems, the Gables brought grandeur back to the villa, eventually receiving house guests and film crews, hosting dinner parties and staging cultural events. This delightful mix of memoir, travel guide and recipes is, in essence, a twist on these well-worn genres--a very chic, expensive twist at that. Photos. Agent, Kitty Benedict. (July 1)
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
June 04, 2006
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Palladian Days by Carl I. Gable
Chapter 1 Pizza with Palladio “Signora Sally, tonight we’re going to a celebration of pizza!” Silvana Miolo’s lilting Italian greets me as I sip my morning espresso on the south portico of Villa Cornaro. The low morning sun splashes shadows of Lombardy poplars across the lawn of the park. Swallows circle and swoop bare inches above the closely mown lawn, scooping insects from the warming air, then spiraling upward to reclaim their nests somewhere above my head. Note to diary: Birds nesting in attic? Investigate. “Una celebrazione di pizza”? Is that what she said? Silvana senses my puzzlement and quickly finds an alternative way to frame her news. The event, I learn upon retelling, will be a pizza party. Silvana is a dervish of energy. Dark eyes, dramatized by thick lashes and wavy black hair, animate her face. She has been friend, Italian teacher, and villa savant since I cautiously drove the twenty miles from the Venice airport two weeks ago for my first spring at the villa. (“Remember, the lady of a villa is called a villainess,” my husband, Carl, advised me soberly as we kissed good-bye in Atlanta.) Carl will join me in a few weeks. I am alone for now in the sixteenth-century villa designed by the architect Andrea Palladio that we have audaciously acquired in the village of Piombino Dese, halfway to the foothills northwest of Venice. Silvana is determined that I not feel lonely; when I arrived from the airport she sent her ten-year-old son Riccardo to keep me company while I unpacked. Silvana’s improbable plans for the evening have me uneasy because of my own recent introduction to Italian, but I’m heartened to find that I needed only one repetition before understanding what is in store. Silvana and the other Piombinesi I’ve met speak no English. In fact, they don’t ordinarily speak Italian. Their first language is Venetan (pronounced VEHN-eh-tun), a dialect substantially different in its vocabulary and pronunciation from standard Italian and not readily intelligible to strangers. (Whenever Carl has trouble understanding something said in Italian, he tries to claim that the speaker is actually using Venetan.) Once Carl remarked to local friends over dinner that the occasion was a good opportunity for the two of us to practice our Italian for a whole evening. “Yes,” Ilario agreed, surveying his family around the table, “and it’s a good chance for us to practice our Italian, too!” In succeeding years English will be taught more widely in the schools of Piombino Dese, and the young people of the town will gain confidence in using it with us, but in our early years no local people of our acquaintance speak it. No one, that is, except Ilario. Ilario Mariotto and I are the same age, but when I was leaving for college, he was boarding a ship for Australia, where he would spend four hot, exhausting years chopping sugarcane in the fields. Ilario can still speak halting English despite twenty-five years of disuse. Note to diary: Where has my college French gone? Each morning I climb out of bed and assemble my limited Italian verbs and nouns into imaginary dialogues with Silvana, trying to prepare myself for her arrival. At eight o’clock she walks over from Caffè Palladio, the bar and sandwich shop that she and her husband, Giacomo, own and operate across the street from the villa. Her purpose is to open our balcone. Balcone is the Venetan—not Italian—word for shutters. The villa has forty-four immense pairs of them, most of them more than ten feet tall. In accordance with local custom, and for security as well, all of them must be closed and latched each night and opened each morning. Those on the ground floor are secured with a heavy