Locanda Sospesa

We arrived at the Locanda on a spring morning, leaving behind the road leading to the sea and heading up the hills toward the small village of Pereta. No sign, no bell to ring. “The wisteria is full of buds but only three clusters have opened, surely by the time you arrive it will be in its best shape,” Johnny had announced to us. He and Elizabeth welcomed us with a glass of wine and a story to listen to. In the early 1900s the mansion belonged to a young gentleman and his two sisters, who also owned the land around the village of Pereta. They lived there year-round except for the holiday season, during which they moved to the country house a few kilometers away. One evening in the 1960s, during a dinner party, Carlo, Johnny’s father, decided to buy what remained of the noble residence, without imagining that one day it would become the house he would choose to live in with his future family. Johnny many years later made the same choice and chose to live here with his wife Elizabeth, his daughter Isabella and Olympia and Sibyl, the cat and ironically, turned the mansion into a guesthouse where guests can spend peaceful and bucolic holidays. Each room is a box of memories. Painted ceilings, fabric-covered walls, grit on the floor and the old piano in the embroidery room. Art Nouveau windows open to the bucolic garden. Ancient walls protecting it on one side, on the right a balustrade overlooking infinity, on the left one of the village churches can be glimpsed. And again, wisteria, calla lilies, hydrangeas, roses and fruit trees. The grapefruit comes from Africa. The Johnny’s parents picked the seed on their honeymoon and brought to Italy. It, too, grew in this garden in the Maremma and many years later produces juicy fruit that is served to guests at breakfast. 

Words and photographs by Francesca Romana Fontana.

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