The jewel of Praiano
We meet extraordinary people each year when we visit Italy. They may range from home owners, wine makers, butchers, chefs, cheese makers, or gelato makers.
One particular experience that still resonates years later, was our first meeting with the owner of a large villa along the Amalfi Coast. We were invited to the villa for a luncheon on a bright sunny day in late September. We had planned to meet a young woman (the daughter of the owner) with whom we had been corresponding for a few months in order to coordinate our visit. When we arrived, we were immediately struck by the size of the villa and the surrounding gardens, as we descended an exterior staircase leading to the main floor of the villa. The descent felt ceremonial. Once there, we were introduced to the matriarch of the family. Her youthful, friendly charm belied her mature years. Dressed in an elegant ensemble, she graciously gave us a tour of the villa and grounds while she regaled us with facts about her family, the villa's history and that of the surrounding town. We came to understand that the family (owners of a music publishing houses in Italy) and who live in Naples has owned the villa for over 75 years and uses it during holidays and in August. The villa, it was explained, unlike other rental properties is continuously maintained throughout the year by an on-site manager and a local gardener.
A particular attribute that seems to pervade our experiences of the Italian culture is the seemingly boundless generosity exhibited by the people we have met.
We sat on the terrace and were served a delicious four-course lunch while we listened to stories of the owners early life in Hollywood, her movie star friends and her summers along the Amalfi Coast. The certain period charm and classic elegance of this woman won our hearts and minds and literally made us forget the reason we were visiting.
A particular attribute that seems to pervade our experiences of the Italian culture is the seemingly boundless generosity exhibited by the people we have met. The owner of the villa was no exception. She supervised every course of the meal to assure that we were satisfied and were not in need of additional water, wine or meal ending confections. Later she took us to her private room in the upper reaches of the villa and showed us her extensive collection of period clothing that would rival those in any museum collection. We ended our afternoon, with a slow walk up to the main road accompanied by the matriarch, who negotiated the stairs better than some people half her age. She insisted that her driver take us back to Positano where we were staying and invited us to spend a "second honeymoon" as her guest at the villa the following year.