from Chapter 9 - Sally's Tale of a Tub:
I climb into the long skinny bathtub and stretch out full length,
my head barely above water. The villa is shuttered for the night.
My two guests--friends from Atlanta--are settled in their rooms,
presumably deep in their blankets to escape the cold that envelops
the villa and overwhelms the inadequate electric heaters in their
bedrooms and mine. I bask luxuriantly in the steamy natural perfume
of the well water and watch motionless as the bar of Dove dissolves
on my stomach. I am warm for the first time since my friends arrived
earlier in the day, blown from the train station to our gate by
a frigid April storm. My mind drifts lazily as I try to remember
why it is necessary ever to leave this perfect warmth.
Suddenly all the lights of the villa go out as quietly as a candle.
The villa is shuttered tight as a tomb. Not a ray of light from
even one street lamp finds a crevice to peer through. Darkness
seizes the villa.
With my mind shocked awake, I begin to review my situation: I
am naked, up to my neck in water, in pitch darkness, in a room
where I have personally killed two scorpions within the past three
days. My rational mind, in an effort to distract me from the temptation
simply to scream in terror, tells me that the three electric heaters,
bored by their pretense of producing heat, have merely turned
to their favorite activity: overloading the villa's circuits.
My mind is teased by two dim memories: first, that Silvana specifically
told me where a candle is located in my bedroom, but that I did
not pay much attention; and second, that Giacomo specifically
showed me where the electric circuit breakers are located in a
small room between the two main floors of the villa--but I didn't
pay much attention to that either. What I remember best is that,
in the stairwell of tight circular wooden stairs leading to the
small room, I also killed a scorpion yesterday.
'Scorpions don't kill,' I tell myself. Note to diary: Learn
more about scorpions.
from Chapter 14 - La Cucina:
I realize with a start that that we are nearing our first anniversary
of owning the villa. My mind fills with thoughts that I have pushed
aside in the scurry and urgency of responding to everyday exigencies.
I am reminded of the old bromide that we consume our lives with
tasks of little importance but short deadlines, postponing more
important matters that we convince ourselves can be done later.
Whatever brought you to buy a Palladian villa?
I am still hung up on that examination of the motives that brought
me to my second life in Piombino Dese. Maybe my subconscious has
been working on the problem while my conscious self has been focused
on lawnmowers and kitchen appliances, because I have some new
ideas now. I've gotten past the need to choose a single motivation
from the grab bag of "second home" or "growth"
or "escape" (or whatever else I might come up with).
Now I can see that my motives are not static; all are true, just
at different times and to different degrees.
I had indeed been seeking a second home for all the traditional
reasons that drive city dwellers to acquire them: novelty, change
of pace, relaxation and the like. Many of our Atlanta friends
seem to have preceded us in acquiring second homes, usually on
Georgia lakes or in the North Carolina mountains, though some
have moved farther afield to the Atlantic or Gulf coast, the western
ski slopes, even Maine. My own background (and Carl's pleasure
with the area) made New Hampshire a reasonable alternative.
But how much time would I have spent there in a year? One month,
maybe six weeks? Probably something like that--certainly not four
months. So why haven't I limited my Italian time to the same length?
That, it seems, was a separate decision, but one that came so
early and so easily that I never knew I was making it. Villa Cornaro
is no New England lake home existing to serve my family during
our holidays. Villa Cornaro is a force of nature, a vibrant personality
in the lives of its owners, the farmers who till its fields, the
students and researchers who study and measure its lines, the
tourists excited by its spirit, the townspeople reassured by its
My plans changed because I discovered that Villa Cornaro needs
Copyright 2005 Sarah B. Gable and Carl I. Gable
All rights reserved.