Roses In The Cloister

Roses in the cloister.   SIMON WATSON

Yesterday’s post linked to earlier ones with rose references, and one of those led me to a small correction. The photo above shows a slightly different angle on the roses in the garden of the restored convent. I had assumed those roses were very old. A bit of sleuthing led me to the fact that they were planted during the restoration, and they are “indeed quite perfumed.” For that and other reasons it is worth taking another look at that project, this time told by Olinda Adeane and with excellent photos by Simon Watson:

A mother & daughter’s restoration of a 16th-century Tuscan convent

A mother-and-daughter design duo has taken an unconventional approach to the conversion of a sixteenth-century convent in Tuscany, filling the rooms with objects and artworks of their own making.

In the library, hand-coloured prints stand out against the white walls. SIMON WATSON

Henry James once described his friend Edith Wharton as a ‘great and glorious pendulum’ swinging back and forth across the Atlantic. In a similar fashion, Holly Lueders, a designer from New York, has returned to Greece every year since she first visited the country as an 18-year-old student. Holly grew up in a sleepy town in Missouri with little in the way of culture or local craft, but her family was artistic and good with their hands. ‘Anything we wanted, we made for ourselves,’ remembers Holly. She studied art history and archaeology at Columbia University and completed her studies in Athens.

‘I went to Greece for the ancient world,’ she explains. Indeed, in Holly’s life, the past is always present. She has collected and worn antique Greek traditional clothing since her teenage years and was inspired by classical statuary to create her own fashion label in New York. Summers were spent on the Greek island of Patmos with her three children, restoring two houses that she had bought there in the Seventies. It was the sort of household where if you required a Byzantine mosaic floor, you created it yourself.

In 2000, Holly turned her sights on Italy, where she has always wanted to live. Her youngest daughter Venetia Sacret Young, then 18, shared her mother’s passion for old houses and agreed to help her find a restoration project. ‘I thought that it would only take a couple of years at most,’ says Venetia. ‘But, in fact, it took far longer.’ Holly and Venetia’s search for an untouched and inexpensive house involved driving all over Italy. Finally, in 2006, a friend told them about a derelict convent outside the tiny medieval hill town of Pitigliano in southern Tuscany. It was rumoured to be the work of the Florentine architect Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, who designed Palazzo Farnese and Villa Madama in Rome…

Read the whole article here.

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