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Villa Graziella “a fairy tale with 50 years of history “
Like all fairy tales, the story of Villa Graziella, begins with a “Once Upon a Time …” Just so. For those who know – or have spent at least one night – this great mansion, overlooking Lake Garda, has something unusual. It will be due to the colonial profile that alludes to distant worlds, or to the indefinable atmosphere – vintage and exotic at the same time – that breathes in its rooms … but it is clear to everyone, from the very first glance, that this is not Is a villa like the others. Because? What is the spell that makes this place unique? To understand it, we have to borrow the time machine and make a half-century jump.
Villa Graziella has just switched off her first 50 candles. Of course you would not say – given the giant steps of a new pouch restyling! – but the origins of the villa date back to 1966, when the Allegri di Peschiera del Garda – one of the best construction companies in circulation today, as it is today – went to the project of the Moretto architect in Milan. The idea was to transform the dream and memories of a couple who just returned from Australia and create a work that was both a magical memorial album and a home, alive and welcoming, with doors wide open on present and future .
The villa would take the name of the owner and be called Graziella … but in fact, its walls would have been the trademark of a couple: a man and a woman who knew what love was. Graziella and Pino had lived in Australia for a decade, from the early fifties to the early sixties, and wanted a villa that traced a kind of umbilical cord between the years spent in the Southern Hemisphere and their country of origin. Of course, their dream had to adapt to the reality of the place, but this – for them – was certainly not a problem. Was not there the sea? What matters: they had a large and beautiful lake, blue like the sea, on which – beside the windowsill – they faced a large porch, an airy lounge, bright and large rooms.
Yes, especially great! During World War II, Pino had been embarked on as second commander on the submarines of the Italian Navy and had fought on the Atlantic. The submarines of that period were more than narrow … claustrophobic in the true sense of the term: that is why Pino, for the new home, had wanted wide and airy spaces. He was born in Rovereto in 1910, when the city was still part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, and he was the first roveretano to go to the Academy of the Navy Military in Livorno. In those years the roveretans were almost all alpine: choosing the marina, therefore, meant breaking the tradition, in the true sense of the term.
Graziella, however, grew up between Milan, Lake Como where she had moved with her parents during the war, and Lake Garda, where she was born. The city and the lake (indeed the lakes!) Had for years been the leitmotif of his life. Graduated in agricultural sciences, Graziella loved nature and greenery. For this reason, he wanted the villa to be surrounded by a thick and luxuriant frame of trees and plants. The mansion stands on the grounds of Cristino, the father of Graziella: a man from Bari, where he was orphaned at an early age, had moved to Peschiera, where he was stationed as a cavalry officer. It is here, in Peschiera, that Cristino had met Alda, the mother of Graziella and had married her. At the end of the war, the spouses moved to Milan, where Cristino began working in the banking field: among other things, he was one of the founding members of the National Bank of Agriculture. The work, he gained the patrimony needed to buy a fertile and lush land, overlooking the shores of Lake Garda: the land on which today stands Villa Graziella.
Pino, meanwhile, was on Lake Como with a colleague. He had just divorced, doing a miracle, since at that time – in practice – divorce did not exist yet. The former wife, Vera, was the daughter of a Polish diplomat. She had known her in Shanghai, China – before the Maoist revolution – during a reception at the Polish Embassy. Pino, at that time embarked on the cruiser Montecuccoli, who was traveling around the world … nothing strange, so if he had touched (paradoxically) to find a Polish wife … in China! Marriage had gone its course in a few years and getting divorce had been a real hit. From Taranto, where he lived while in Marina, Pino had moved the tents to Turin and had given a breakthrough to his career. At FIAT, he had started working in the big engine department, where he designed the engines for ships, and from there he moved to Milan, where he still did not know anyone. It is here, one day, that he had not It was here, one day, that he had met a colleague, former Navy officer, who had proposed to accompany him on a visit from a couple of friends on Lake Como. I do not want to say it was Cristino and Alba … who had a daughter: a beautiful girl with deep black eyes and magnetic eyes.
Lightning strikes are rare, but they exist. When Graziella and Pino met they were love at first glance. They married in a year and almost sailed for Australia: a distant country that at that time, when the internet did not exist and the media were less easy, it was really light years away. Australia, as a destination, was not randomly chosen. Pino, a mechanical engineer, had been sent to that country far from the Italian company he worked for, the SAE of Milan. It would be a pioneering work: it was, in practice, to start and run EPT, an Australian subsidiary of the SAE, who – just like the parent company – spun trellis for high-voltage power lines. Graziella, who loved her husband, did not think of two seconds to follow him in the head of the world. For the couple, beautiful years began: curiosity and discoveries. The holidays, for example, were spent on the islands of Polynesia, which at that time were an untouched paradise and still all to discover. And then there were friends, who were many and different and often came to find the couple, even after transferring to Italy.
The Australian parenthesis was not a simple parenthesis, but an immense reservoir of life and memories that the spouses took behind – just like a baggage – when they moved to Milan. The project of Villa Graziella took shape precisely from this desire to transform a magical memory knife at home ready to welcome. Villa Graziella opened its doors in 1966 and immediately became clear to everyone and expressed his vocation to welcome. It was an “open” home in the best sense of the term, ready to embrace and welcome the many friends knocking at her door. Graziella and Pino soon became the hub of a busy circle of visitors going and coming. Pino, a good old navy officer, was a fascinating, serious and reliable person, always smiling with lips, Graziella loved cooking exotic dishes and telling of his trips to the other hemisphere … the great salon of the villa was lured with stories told and collected. Just like a great stone book all over.
Today, fifty years later, the story continues as it began. Villa Graziella welcomes, listens to and tells its visitors, in front of the great, wonderful mirror of Lake Garda.
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