I told you recently about the beautiful impressionist painting by John Modesitt we have just bought. It is the first oil painting I’ve bought, but I have other original artworks that I am very fond of. One of my favourites (but they’re all my favourites!) is an Italian fresco.
We were in Italy a couple of years ago , almost at the end of a four-week holiday and were staying in a marvellous B&B near Parma called Corte Bebbi. The bedrooms were large and comfortable and beautifully decorated, there was a swimming pool to cool off in, a little kitchen next to our room that we could use, an outside eating area for picnics and grills and a rose-covered terrace for a delicious breakfast. Our hostess, who speaks English, was friendly and extremely helpful. Our only regret was that we didn’t stay there longer!
One of the places we visited was Sabbioneta, 30 k north of Parma, which reminded us of Vauban in France with its grid layout, a perfect example of practical application of Renaissance urban planning theories founded in the late 16th century and included in the World Heritage List in 2008. Its most interesting monument is the Teatro all’antica (“Theatre in the style of the ancients”) which was the first free-standing, purpose-built theatre in the modern world.
But the place I enjoyed most was an amazing antique/secondhand dealer on Palazzo Ducale several stories high with the most incredible mixture of real antiques and junk. The owner was more interested in showing people around than selling anything. There was an outside section as well with fountains and stone tables and chairs. He was even selling a clock with twin bells on top and the inscription “Non omnis moriar” – I will not die completely (as in part of me will live on through my poetry or whatever).
In the meantime, I had spied a (closed) shop selling frescoes and had asked for one of them as a belated birthday present. We tracked down the owner who came and opened up for us. It is her father who paints the frescoes in the traditional style. A fresco, from the Italian word for fresh, is a form of mural painting in which earth pigments are painted directly on fresh, wet, lime plaster. As the plaster dries, a chemical process bonds the pigment and plaster together. You usually find them on a wall, of course, but they are a bit difficult to transport! Even so, Relationnel was a bit worried about getting it back to France, but we were just able to fit it into the car.
It has not found its rightful place yet although it is currently hanging in our entrance in Paris but one day I’ll find the perfect setting in Closerie Falaiseau, our Renaissance home in Blois!Corte Bebbi, Azienda Agricola “Conti Morini Mazzoli” CORTE BEBBI – Via Lazzaro Spallanzani, 119 – Barco – 42021 Bibbiano – (RE), Tel. 0522 243056 – Fax 0522 246183 – Cell. 3485606321, http://www.cortebebbi.it/ENG/index.html, – firstname.lastname@example.org – P.Iva 01688540358