I took a tour of the Figini Pagani Progettazioni offices in Lake Como this morning. The firm, which was founded by Erasmo Figini and Susanna Pagani, designed the villas and other buildings on the grounds of the CastaDiva Resort and I have been impressed with the range of their talents–from whimsical elements in the restored Villa Roccabruna (the former home of Giuditta Pasta, one of the world’s top sopranos) to Scandinavian influences in the Villa Amina. Stafania Tambani from their offices was an amazing escort, taking me around Como and to the Orticolario fair, a gathering of exhibitors who make and/or grow products for and from the garden, for most of the day.
The day dawned rainy and stayed drizzly for most of the morning but by the time we reached the grounds of the Spazio Villa Erba in Cernobbio where Orticolario was held, the sun peeked from the clouds and lit the drenching colors of the flowers being exhibited. I met Figini, who walked me through the beautiful products to the Villa Antica where the opening reception was being held on the terrace facing Lake Como, and understood how such a diverse repertoire could spring from the same mind.
He was a force of creativity, something that was clear the minute I shook his hand. The grand nineteenth-century Villa was the former residence of Luchino Visconti, whose heirs sold it to a public consortium so that it could be maintained as an event space. Villa Erba was added to the property, designed by architect Mario Bellini after the many greenhouses typical of the nobility who built residences surrounding the Lago di Como, in 1990.
I met Moritz Mantero and Arturo Croci, the masterminds behind the Orticolario, now only in its second year but already one of the most popular events in the area. Though it was a bit early in the day for donning my ball-gown (and those of you who know me well know what a joke it is that I’d even own one), I could feel those Italian beauties of a bygone age swishing past me with their silk trains trailing behind them as they exited the grand salon on their way to the terrace to take in the sparkling of stars in the dome of Lake Como’s velvety sky.
How’s that for an operatic sized drama on a Friday afternoon in Italia?