I’m re-blogging a post I wrote just over a year ago to tie-in with a excerpt from “Lady of Asolo”:
“The drive from Aunt Susan’s village, Altivole, took about twenty minutes. Fern found a park, then reached for her rucksack. She took in the sight of the Rocca, its fortifications etched against the azure sky, and decided she wouldn’t go there today; she didn’t feel up to the climb just yet. She’d have a leisurely stroll and find a quiet place where she’d paint.
Within minutes, she was sauntering down the Via Canova, the sun warming her bare arms, guidebook in her hand. Reading that she should “glance up Vicolo Belvedere, at the corner of the bakery”, she did so. The book said there’d once been a Jewish Ghetto there. Not any more, though. Wonder what happened to it?
A mansion painted the colour of terracotta rose up on her left. Apparently, it used to belong to a famous Italian actress. Fern strolled under an archway, and caught sight of an elegant palazzo with gold lettering on a wooden sign saying Hotel Villa Cipriani. She peered through the wrought-iron gate into a lush garden, planted with an array of salmon-pink geraniums.
Next door stood an old house with a balcony, mullioned windows, a portal, and a massive doorway with a shutter and bolts. Recognition rang like a bell. Why? Fern gave a frown and told herself to keep focused.
Nothing familiar about the small church on her left. Putting the guidebook into her rucksack, she stepped into the building and sat on a pew at the back. This isn’t quite right, I do know this place, but something about it is different.”
The view from the garden bench reminds me that we haven’t been to Asolo for a couple of weeks. The town is what drew my parents to this part of Italy in the sixties, and persuaded them to buy an old farmhouse nearby for their retirement. Every day, I stare at the ancient military fortress, La Rocca, on the farthest crest to the right. It whispers to me of the time when, from the 14th to the 17th centuries, the fort represented part of the defense system of the Venetian Republic.
We set off at midday and park in the main square by the Caffè Centrale,which is owned and run by Lele and Ezio, my late step-father’s cousins.
In the Piazza Brugnoli, we look up at La Rocca from a different angle to the one at home, the sky so blue and cloudless it seems to go on…
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