Monday, June 16, 2008

when in to ravello (just above amalfi)

When in Italy last month (for the first time) I had the pleasure of driving the Autostrade to Naples and points beyond Pompei along the chaotically curved roads that follow the sea like a drunk lover - the Amalfi Coast. From Amalfi, which is a charming seaside town where we sampled Limoncello and bought beautiful hand-made papers and ceramics, we drove straight up the road leading us past terraced lemon groves to the town of Ravello where Gore Vidal bought his beautiful Villa Rondinaia in 1972 and lived a good deal of the time till 2006 when he sold it to hotelier Vincenzo Palumbo. We had the good fortune to meet Mr. Palumbo who also owns the nearby Villa Eva, Villa Maria and Giardano restaurant where we had lunch looking over the sea.

When lunch was finished Mr. Palumbo's charming son very graciously gave us a private tour of Villa Rondinaia which means swallow's nest in Italian.

While much of the home is being renovated to soon re-open as a luxury destination for travellers, the office where Gore Vidal once wrote is still relatively unchanged. His desk is still center-stage with an old Underwood typewriter and personal photographs. Dozens of his books translated into a Babel of languages line the shelves and an old fireplace still has ashes in it.
Here we are on the balcony outside the master bedroom - you can see why it was named after a swallow's nest!

Now I really must read his memoir Palimpsest or even better his biography by Ed Kaplan.

No comments: