Two American friends have been visiting and I’ve tried to give them a flavour of the delights of my part of Italy.
As well as the lovely hilly landscape, this is villa country, and more especially Palladio country, so we’ve tried to fit in a few trips to local villas. A couple of days ago I drove west of here to try to find the Villa Saraceno, an early Palladian building now managed by the Landmark Trust. It wasn’t where the guide book said it was, and of course there were no signs, so I drove into the nearest village to ask. The village was deserted (siesta time) but on one corner we spotted a carabinieri car with two uniformed police inside with nothing to do. I parked opposite and walked over, noticing with amusement that their faces looked anxious because no doubt they thought they were going to have to speak English. Such relief came over them when I asked for help in Italian!
At first the younger friendlier one began describing the way, but then they both decided it would be simpler to show us. (And of course they had nothing to do anyway.) “Follow us, Signora” and off we went.
The trouble was, it was hot so they had car windows open and were doing what all Italians do, gesticulating with hands and arms. I thought they were pointing and waving at the villa and pulled in, but no, they drove on and waited for me to catch up. Finally, along a very complicated series of narrow lanes, we turned into the villa. Beautiful, of course. The police saluted and drove off. Officially it was too late for us to visit, but a couple had just arrived to stay there for 3weeks (lucky things) so we wandered in and chatted to the custodian who allowed us in to the main entrance hall and explained a bit of the building’s history.