August 11, 2011

Under the Volcano.

Floating of Sicily in the shadow of Stomboli, the Aeolian Islands (aka Lipari Islands) are enchanted places.
The prettiest little stucco houses on the islands have colonnaded porches with patterned ceramic-tile floors. 
The designs, once brilliantly colored in the blues, greens, and reds have been gently worn by age and the elements to soft pastels that somehow seem a much better match than the original for the backdrop of sky and azure sea.  Just about every cottage has an incredible view of the horizon.  Gazing from a bluff on one of those porches, you see instantly that the sky really does change color from moment to the next as the locals insist it does. 
The specialness of these islands and its inhabitants is hidden behind a comfortable mask of the ordinary.  Streets are lined with fragrant jasmine that is said to have the same scent as that which grows in Marrakesh.  Caper plants spread like green petticoats to multi layered skirts of white, pink, and fuchsia-colored oleanders, which flourish even in the sweltering days of August.  At the foot of the crisp white porches there are little vegetable gardens.   Red tomatoes ripen on the vine and olive trees with their silvery leaves and knotty trunks complement the dry volcanic terrain, and their fruit is added to many local dishes.
And if you’ve wondered why, in 1949, when on the island of Stomboli filming a movie of the same name, Ingrid Bergman suddenly decided to throw over stardom and a respectable dentist husband for a steamy romance with an Italian director, you know it was only in part due to the charms of one Roberto Rossellini.  The rest was that proverbial “something in the air.”

This house was renovated with creativity, a passion for simplicity, and a dedication to the reclamation and re-use of materials and, combined with individual treatments and processes have made this ordinary house extraordinary.