Sunday, February 26, 2012

Winter Garden


I'd just set up this arrangement of winter flowering plants on the rose terrace off of our breakfast room when the cold snap came upon us. Miraculously it's all survived. The rain came along last week before I left for London and spring seems close again. We've kept these two potted Canary Island pines short and clipped and in scale for the scene. I'm especially interested in the two tiny pots of Ixiolirion tataricum, a bulb we'd admired in the Iranian desert a few years ago.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Books about Us


Over the years the garden here at Villa Massei has been featured in numerous publications. The other day, in compiling a bibliography for our Wikipedia page, I gathered together some of the more important books in which we're featured prominently. Here's the stack.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mario Praz?


I've always loved the book, An Illustrated Histiry of Interior Decoration, by Mario Praz. And though one couldn't possibly, nowadays, live in the sort of rooms he analyzes in his book, for those of us who've wanted to recreate something of that 19th century grand era in interior design in our own homes this volume is an essential departure point.

In Lucca, which had its French and then Bourbon periods, the Lucchese villas looked something like this—give or take a less likely contemporary touch here or there.

In my penultimate post I showed Gil standing in this room. The portrait over the blue divano is of Vittorio Emanuele II, first King of Italy. The piano is a "forte piano" from 1845 by Bosendorfer.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Grand Saline, St Barth


This, to my mind, is the most beautiful beach on St Barth, and this is the view of it as you arrive.

Coccoloba uvifera, or sea grape, is native to these shores.

And there it all is in front of you, its clear placid waters. It can be like swimming in champagne, with its slight bubbliness. In the distance are the islands of Saba and St Eustatius.

To the right of you.

To the left.

So what if there's a cloud, it's bliss.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Shot and a Thought


The shot: Gil in "at home" mode.

The thought: If self-effacement is a virtue, only drop names that reflect very badly on you.

(Note: The two above concerns do not relate to each other in any way.)

Friday, February 3, 2012

The European Freeze


I took these pictures the day before the freeze came upon us. The garden was luminescent with promise as the many thousands of narcissus bloomed under the cherry trees here at Villa Massei. I'd just come back from St Barth, and while it wasn't tropical at home, it was spring.

I filled the pots on the terrace with winter blooming plants, pansies and cyclamen. Everything you looked at said, "they're home!"

And then the morning came.

It used to be said that only a dusting of snow ever covers the Lucchese countryside. The climate's changing. We're just going to have to get used to it.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Do Brazil, Shell Beach


Imagine a whole beach made of shells, no sand, or very little sand, just shells, like the ones shown above.

It isn't the nicest thing on your bare feet, but it's beautiful. It's Shell Beach on St Barth, a very protected little cove where the wind never blows and the sea is always calm, mostly.

Do Brazil is the restaurant that sits upon it, and it's full of atmosphere. Especially nice for lunch when you can see how pretty it all looks with its exotic, South-east Asian style. The food is fun and fusion.