1902 Victorian

Bringing our old house out of the disco era and back into the Victorian.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Recommended Reading

I just finished reading (actually listening to ... I like to "read" audiobooks during my commute) Palladian Days, by Sally and Carl Gable. I normally don't enjoy non-fiction, but I wasn't bored for a minute during this story of an American couple who buys a 450-year-old Italian villa for their summer home.

My house is 103 years old, a youngster compared to the Gables' Renaissance villa, but I found a lot of similarities between our situation - all old house owners' situations - and theirs. They face many of the same issues all old house owners do - how do you modernize, how do you repair without compromising the historic integrity of the structure? How do you protect your house if the government decides they want to build a soccer field on your property? I can definitely identify with the Gables' infatuation with learning the history of their house and solving its mysteries.

And they have the typical complaints about previous owners - when the villa was turned into a parish kindergarten prior to their ownership, the penises were sanded off all the terra cotta cherubs.

Of course, they have bonus struggles - like learning to speak Italian and the local dialect, Venetan, enough to communicate their renovation needs.

I've never been to Italy, but the portrait the Gables' paint of Italian life and the amazing historic villa make me want to book a flight and go there right now. I want to see Villa Cornaro - yes, they give tours. It was designed by Andrea Palladio and "introduced to Western architecture the two-story projecting portico-loggia motif. Palladio's device influenced Western architecture for hundreds of years, becoming a recurrent feature in Georgian, Adam and Colonial American architecture." Wow. Talk about living in a slice of history.

Click here and here for history and photos of Villa Cornaro.



halloweenlover said...

Oh yay! I am intrigued! I have been looking for a good audio book to try out. I've never listened to books on CD or tape and since they aren't cheap, I have been looking for a recommendation before forking over the money. I think I'll go pick up Palladian Days!


9:56 AM  
jm@houseinprogress said...

I MUST get that book. And, Kristin? You HAVE to go to Italy. I didn't get to Florence or Siena (though I wanted to) but I spent some lovely days wandering through Verona and Venice. There is a very inexpensive, lovely hostel in Verona called the Villa Franccescatti with some amazing gardens that I napped in (I think it was less than $20/night with breakfast.) You can check it out here: http://www.ostellionline.org/ostello.php?idostello=540

10:29 AM  
Greg said...

I often think about places that old and wonder if my house will make it to be 450 years old. For houses that are about 100 years old now it is a really pivotal point in their history. Is what you (not YOU Kristin, but any home owner) do to your house now going to be something someone complains about in 100 years, or are you doing something that someone in the future is going to look back on and commend you for it. I for one promise never to sand off any penises. That is a line I will not cross. :-)

3:20 PM  

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