It’s not every day a girl gets invited to lunch by an Italian Count whose noble ancestors have been rattling around Italy since the 1300’s.
It had definitely never happened to this girl until one sunny day in the Lombardy region of Italy when I was included on an excursion to tour a rice farm in the Lomellina Valley with my friends Margo and Kathy.
We were welcomed warmly by the distinguished and gentlemanly Count Edoardo Visconti di Modrone and taken on a grand tour of his restaurant, Ristorante Corte Visconti, his sprawling rice farm which provides special rice for risotto, a community bar, and – my favorite – his family hunting lodge.
One day soon I will share with you the exquisite meal of local Italian specialties we ate that warm Autumn afternoon, but today I want to linger in a room that utterly stole my heart: the hunting lodge library.
Was there ever a more perfect spot for reading than this inviting couch?
We got to linger in this beautiful room twice. Once in the morning where we visited with the Count over glasses of Padron Bonarda Oltreopò Doc and a platter of thinly sliced charcuterie, and again later in the afternoon when we all retired to the library for a siesta where we got to rest on that lovely old couch.
How I love this room with its cracked leather chairs, marvelous old trunks and ancient paintings black with age.
One day, if I am ever old and rich and unencumbered by bills and emergencies, I will build a library just like this and happily live out my days in it.
How wonderful cold winter days would be spent by a roaring blaze in this marble fireplace, our dog sleeping peacefully on the hearth, a hot toddy steaming on the coffee table.
Yes, I would like that very much indeed.
I love the wooden shelves lined with very old books, their titles etched on the spine in gold leaf. Even untidy stacks of books on the writing table look marvelous next to opulent candlesticks. I like the hunting rifles lined up just so, and the chunks of firewood piled in a sturdy basket.
I’m especially fond of the changing light in this room, clean and bright in the morning, hazy and golden in late afternoon.
Some libraries in old European homes can be impressive but cold. Not this one.
It welcomes in every way, from furniture designed for maximum ease and comfort to windows flung open to allow the warm Autumn breezes to flow freely. There are even stacks of paper and inkwells at hand should inspiration strike.
It is a most splendid library.
I’m on week six (or is it eight?) of a cold/flu combo that just won’t let go. As I sit here today with a pounding head, stopped up ears, and sore throat, it is pure comfort to return, if only in my imagination, to such a happy place.
As much as I’d love to, I can’t flit away to Italy or build my own Italian hunting lodge library, but I can add bits of Italy to my little Aussie farmhouse: a stack of beloved old books on my desk, a glass of red wine with a good read at night, and a fanciful lamp tucked in a dark corner that makes me smile whenever I see it.
If you could design the perfect room for yourself, what three things would you love most for it to contain?