Here it comes, that time of your life when you have realized you finally made it and in spite of all your promises, you are your parents: you finally read the same newspapers they used to pile at the corner of the sofa, you wear coats that are too showy like your mother used to and eat strangely like your dad - devouring mouthfuls.
You let your children indulge in those same aspects you were allowed to experiment with: creativity, quirkiness, using electric devices that shouldn’t be allowed before teen age, eating anytime of the day, growing an interior garden of fantastic, unrealisable dreams.
It’s a sweet day when you realize you are nothing but a human in a chain of humans, a point of continuity, a product that many people and things have shaped and not a self-made creature as eighties movies suggested you should be, because this discovery fills you with love, empathy, happiness: I am a part of “they”, of “people”, of the world. I am not alone.
As soon as we embrace our past as part of our future, the concept of acceptance is finally revealed to us as our brothers of Abrahamic religions intend it, and the way it defines the Christian legacy: we finally become acquiescent to our own destiny, we accept our core and sign a bond with ourselves for life. From now on, my dear, you will be allowed to drive at thirty miles an hour on motorways, like granddad used to, and avoid sports in favor of television. You will ask for virgin olive oil to be topped on your pizza and enjoy a fantastic cappuccino with chocolate after a massive italian meal. You, amongst other fantastic things, will be allowed to love yourself the way you are: you got to be what you were meant to be.
Inspecting villas and traveling their surrounding territory, amenities, landscapes it’s my duty since ’98. It didn’t start as a proper job, of course. It came by accident, as for almost everybody else I know, when my auntie asked me to substitute her one day as a tour escort for wealthy american cruisers and right after I saw a Bertolucci movie called Stealing Beauty. The combination of those two elements plus bags of dollars in tips for amounts that were unheard for my age did the trick and here. It became a proper occupation through random channels and intuitions. Surely my fathers' insistence I was a genius and a born-to-be-entrepreneur informed my desired vocation. So, I am today involved in one of the best and most fortunate occupations. I am of course very grateful, and do not think for a second there is an ounce of personal credit in all this.
I started with agriturismos, a sort of touristic farm in the countryside where one can sleep and eat local products, experiencing the greatness of Italy’s environment and atmosphere. I tried hard to convince them in the nineties that a proper website and an online payment system with availabilities would have made the difference for them, despite the hints of those useless, byzantines consultants that the region sends them - do not produce your oil in earthenware jars, do not cook bread in your wooden oven, do not do this or wear masks when reaping: fuck off you fools, when we were writing poems on oil and wine you were still worshiping the Great God of Potato and barely had an idiom up there in Europe.
Anyway. It didn’t work. I thought it would be much better to try with non-italian proprietors at this point, people who wouldn’t listen to the absurd directives of the various local committees, and that’s when I discovered they owned villas, not agriturismos. They also had a dream and it involved everything I love too: Italy, wine, cheese, evocative afternoons, idleness, days of nothing you will remember for ever, staying away from the beach and looking like a philosopher when cooking spaghetti al pomodoro fresco.
I am not suggesting here that villas holidays are for enlightened individuals while hotels are for sheep, I'm just trying to lead you to an attempt that might change your holidaying routine for ever, and I will be honest about it.
1 - One deserves to feel like Cicero for once in a lifetime
Villas clients have bypassed the gender race years ago: women and men read the same most unrealistic tomes when summering in Italy. They all are boffins and surely know about red wine. They all know cooking secrets, contemporary history and art: they all look credible when pronouncing the words “It is amazing how silence speaks louder than words in here”.
2 - Staff Expulso! (See Harry Potter’s spells)
We have to interact with people, daily, continuously. Some of them speaks more than it should be legally allowed. Although I am a big fan of late dirty martinis prepared by a great barman, after eight pm I want to be my horrible self, with shorts, Hawaiian shirt, diamonds, pashmina and pirate blinder. And I want to be surrounded by no one.
3 - I want to look amazing
That very first day of holidays, when you must have the guts to wear that summer costume at the pool hoping no slender-same-gender figure will upset you: forget about it. With hundreds of rooms the Gods of Murphy’s Law are right here to punish you: Miranda Kerr is tanning close to Matthew McConaughey. It’s not going to happen in a villa, where your significant half looks way worse than you do and you can feel fa-bo-lous in your new airport caftan.
4 - Please, free me from my kids
In every respectable villa you haven’t booked on TripAdvisor or similar, there’s an army of tested suppliers available. They won’t play with a crowd of children including yours. No. They will be there for yours only and make them feel special while you drink your guilt away.
5 - I need to become a guru
We barely have time to brush our teeth in the morning, can you imagine dedicating hours to this thing, this web interactive stuff everybody talks about. God knows what’s this transcendental meditation and why cooking is so fashionable today. Finally you have the time to indulge on your tablet without having to ask for a key at the concierge, a key that won’t work anyway and, if it does, you will have to pay as an escort in Amsterdam - by the minute.
6 - Sloth is good
Paint yourself under an olive tree, still wet from your fantastic dip in the pool, smelling lavender and magnolia, looking fantastic and scratching your foot as none can see you - apart from your significant half who’s snoring anyway. A contingent of deprived sleep is coming to get you: it’s your affair with Orpheus and children are with nanny, with sisters, with cousins - the villa is fenced anyway.
7 - The Lamp of Aladdin
If you didn’t book through Peasant Villas®: no services included and consumptions on the side, and your agent is not a housewife who is enthusiastic about a 5% commission in cash after you have left, your villa comes with a concierge. This is better than Aladdin and will provide all the information you need, coordinate, adjust, mitigate. You will wonder why you didn’t meet before you got married.
8 - I am Royal Material
At eleven your chef will come and discuss organic ingredients, a possible menu for the evening and proposes twenty wines you can pair with your served supper, while Vivaldi is expressing seasonal emotions in the sound system (outdoor as well). He knows you like a double portion of parmesan over gnocchi ai funghi ed erbette. 'Nuff said.
9 - What a wonderful bunch of activities we can do today! What a fantastic list of itineraries all around! What a selection of iconic events in this county!
Yay! Let me stay in the veranda all day and enjoy the fact the cultural revolution is just outside the private walls of this privately rented villa in this lovely privatized majestic garden and estate.
10 - In no hotel you will be able to walk naked to the kitchen at 2 am and cook yourself an outstanding Carbonara
Let’s be honest about it: hotel managers cannot smile those open smiles for 24 hours. They must hate you at one point and surely they do not want to see your naked bits enthusiastically cutting onions in the middle of the night - unless you are Miranda Kerr or Matthew McConaughey.
(...) Le cose poste in nostro potere sono di natura libere, non possono essere impedite nè attraversate. Quelle altre sono deboli, schiave, sottoposte a ricevere impedimento, e per ultimo sono cose altrui. (...) Epitteto - Enchiridion - Traduzione di Giacomo Leopardi (1825)