Living with art, love, and beauty.

People often ask me, ‘How did your family end up with a home in Italy?’ To cut a long story short, as they say, in 1962 my father Douglas Bland was given a commission to paint a mural for the lobby of the Hong Kong Hilton Hotel. He decided to invest the profit in a place for holidays and, eventually, his retirement. On a visit to Asolo that summer, with my mother, he fell in love with the town. Two years later, he and Mum found the right place: a 100 year-old farmhouse in need of restoration, situated on a hillside with fabulous views.

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Restoration work started img446

And the first stage completed two years later img451

With the veranda added two years after that img452

This pic of the whole property was taken shortly after my father died in 1975

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He never got to live his dream of retirement in Italy. A routine operation, we all thought, but he didn’t come round from it. The house is filled with his amazing art. (These are just a few of the paintings.)

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My mother couldn’t bear to go into his studio, but, after her second husband, a lovely local man, passed away in 1998, she decided to renovate it and this gorgeous little house is where Victor and I now live, with the two cats we brought with us from the UK.

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The frescoes on the walls were originally done by my father, but have since been restored.

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Mum left this world at the end of October 2013. We’d moved here to keep an eye on her, and now we’ve become caretakers of this wonderful place while we wait for a buyer. Life moves on…

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Nearly fifty years since the house was renovated, and the kitchen and bathrooms need a re-vamp, but Casa Bland is filled with happy memories of Mum, Dad, and my step-father, as well as time spent together as a family. We love it and we’re sure whoever buys it will love it too.

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The garden is filled with birdsong.

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The surrounding woodland is ideal for walking.

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There is a wealth of wildlife.

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The views are what sold this house to my parents all those years ago, and those views haven’t changed.

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Apricot sky

Asolo dawn

None of us know what’ll happen in the future, but, for now, Victor and I will enjoy the dolce vita here in Italy while we can. Sometimes, though, I sit doing my writing in what was my father’s studio, and I can feel his presence. So sad that fate dealt him such a cruel blow, and his life was cut short at the height of his creativity. I’ll leave you with this pic of him teaching me how to paint when I was about four years old. And I hope you’ve enjoyed your visit to his beautiful house in Italy.

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18 thoughts on “Living with art, love, and beauty.

  1. Oh Siobhan… i cried for the loss of your father when i saw that photo. How wonderful to have such a memory. A sad story certainly, but a happy one as well. Thank you for sharing this. The pictures and art are so wonderfully beautiful, but they don’t compare to the story behind them. Huge hugs.

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  2. What a beautiful home! So sorry your father never got to retire there, but what a wise decision to get the place — what a legacy!

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  3. I find this article very moving, That you are so proud of your fathers paintings is very touching. It is nice to see his paintings again and I love the way he put the Annunciation (after Fra Angelico?) on the wall. It looks fabulous, Very bold and effective. I remember your father inviting me as a boy who liked painting, into his studio in your house in HK in the early seventies. I seem to remember an annual party we used to go to at your house. I remember he was was working on a red or gold painting or collage with money pasted onto the canvas, I had never conceived of such a thing! perhaps now I understand what he was getting at. I find the house inspiring, As an artist myself it makes me want to do the same thing! I hope you will be very happy there. Best Wishes

    Piers

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  4. Piers, how lovely to have your comment on my blog. You’re quite right about the Fra Angelico. Those annual fancy dress parties were a legend, weren’t they? We have that painting of the money collage here. My father called it his ‘joke painting’. One cent notes pasted onto the canvas. Very perceptive! Hugs, Siobhan x

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  5. What a remarkable story of a family and the house they loved/love that you’ve shared with us, Siobhan. Thank you very much. Your dad sounds like a great talent. I’m sorry he didn’t get to retire in Italy, but did he and your mom get to enjoy the house together? Glad she could continue to live in it, and find love again. And now that you and your family are enjoying it.
    Great post.

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