Sant' Antonio

LAST UPDATED: 21 November 2004

DATES: Afternoon of Saturday 6 November to morning of Friday 12 November 2004. Six days.

SOME INFO ON SANT' ANTONIO: Frederick Searle, who bought the old monastery of Sant' Antonio near Tivoli in 1878, first saw and fell in love with it when looking for a place from which to paint the great waterfall, across the ravine from the town. A visit today is equally one of enchantment: the little church at the top dedicated to the kindly Sant' Antonio of Padua; the simple rooms, each with a shuttered window opening on to the valley, the waterfall and Tivoli itself; the upper belvedere, giving a first full taste of what, with a few battered edges, can still be recognized as the 'loveliest view in the world.' Hints of a distant past appear in cells with mosaic floors and in the kitchen, where on the inner wall is some 'opus reticulatum,' a sign of Romans at work; but no moment is more thrilling than when, having passed through an arcaded loggia and down to the level of the fruitful, scented and beautiful terraced garden, an old door is opened in the house wall—a moment it would be unfair to spoil by describing it in advance.

The truth is that the walls of a Roman villa, dated to about 60 bc and believed to have belonged to the poet Horace, survive up to the middle floor of the present house, itself begun in about 850 AD. Franciscan monks have lived here, and Popes. The final additions were made 'as late as the 17th century.' It was abandoned around 1870 and rescued by the Searles, who spent many years gently repairing it.

Sant' Antonio has descended to their great-great-grandson. Knowing of our involvement with Keats' House in Rome, he asked us for help. With the greatest of pleasure, we now let the house for his family.

As if Sant' Antonio itself were not enough at Tivoli you can visit the Villa d'Este, with its incomparable fountains, and Hadrian's Villa, the inspiration for many British garden buildings. Lazio, with its hills and lakes, its castles, gardens and wines, its relics of Rome and Etrusca, is one of the most beautiful and least-known regions of Italy.

--From the logbook: A room with a view is all very well--but a bathroom with a view; bliss.

The Sant' Antonions were:

Claire Bean
Nancy and Ray Carroll
Peter and Sheila Herman
Suzan Macy
Duffy Monahon
Cyn Oliver
Conrad Paulus
Mary Payson
Jinnie Russell
Rob Stephenson
Krista Yasvin

SOME PHOTOS FROM THE STAY (Click on the photos to enlarge)

The panoramic view from Sant' Antonio across to Tivoli. The waterfall gets turned on and off through the day. Somewhere down there is the rooster and Italian Willy, the barking dog. Curses on them!

Sant' Antonio across the valley from the road into Tivoli.

Another view. Note Marco and Angelina's villa above. We were never invited up.

The facade that faces Tivoli. At the bottom, through an arch, you come to the grotto, an ancient Roman bath. Inside was drying lavendar.

An arch from the garden terrace. Marco and Angelina's villa above.

Claire and Jinnie.

Three views of the upper garden and terrace.

The first of three dinners prepared by Maria and Enrico. Clockwise from left: Nancy, Peter, Duffy, Cyn, Suzan, Conrad, Jinnie, Mary, Ray, Sheila, Krista and Claire.

Enrico and Maria, cook and caretaker. We had three meals at Sant' Antonio. 23 euro a person.

Two views of the kitchen. Claire, Peter, Duffy and Suzan at the table. Krista cooking breakfast.

In the living room at Sant' Antonio. Krista, Jinnie, Claire and Suzan.

On Monday Conrad, Duffy, Krista and Rob went into Rome. Here we are eating lunch at a cafe looking out at the Pantheon. Although sunny, it was a cold, windy day. Here Conrad sits next to the saddest looking girl in Rome.

Later that day we all gathered in Rome at the Trattoria-Pizzeria Polese in the Piazza Sforza Cesarini.

On Wednesday night we all gathered again at Ristorante Sibilla in Tivoli. On the grounds is the Temple of Vesta.

Krista did another good job of creating our entry in the Logbook. Peter, too, with his epic poem. Too bad it's out of focus.