Travel -Culture -People- Destination

Getting off the Beaten Path in Italy…

You might be surprised, but better yet, learn much about its people.

Such was our luck one day taking an off-highway excursion on the way to Todi to see a relation of a friend we were told to visit on our trip.

Juggling my cell phone, map and a handwritten page of instructions I was happy my husband Bruce could drive on these poorly maintained roads often recommended by well meaning inn keepers. “She still doesn’t answer,” I whined, referring to Roberta, the
relation we were to visit.

Then I saw it. “Stop!” I demanded. Bruce slowed down, stopped, and backed up. We were out in the middle of what seemed like nowhere, not a car or other building in sight. Off the shoulder of the road appeared an elaborate iron gate between two stalwart stone-stacked pillars. It looked like it must be a destination worth visiting, but no, it was a Dantes Palace1 residence.

Beyond the gate stretched an also elaborate steep stone driveway leading to a large home at the very top of the hill. “What?” Bruce demanded. “That,” I said pointing to the obviously handcrafted artistic stonework lining the driveway on both sides. He argued against stopping or getting out of the car, but I was already at the gate. There didn’t appear to be a bell or buzzer, so I headed back to the car just in time to hear someone call out from up the hill.

Dante Anderlini, a 77 year-old Italian-born retiree whose home was just off the road to Aquasparta, had built a work of art over the last 45 years. His weathered face and hands and worn, dusty work clothes verified this fact. What a find! He couldn’t wait to open the gate and show us in to “see something really beautiful.” Dante’s English was sparse and my Italian sloppy, but somehow we managed. As we huffed and puffed up the driveway, his handiwork on both sides took our breath away even further.

DantesHandiworkDantesDriveway

His “something beautiful” turned out to be the living room he built, he told us, for his wife, whom we were not able to meet. It was truly an unbelievable work of art. Dante handcrafted the stone and marble walls, cabinets, counters and floors in both the living room and downstairs kitchen as well.

DantesLivingRmDantesInsideDantesKitchen

Dante was especially proud of the fountain he created over a handmade marble bowl. His broad smile was a reminder of his constant heartfelt pride throughout our tour.

DanteHimself2DantesFurniture

Outside, the views of lush green rolling hills from atop his property were also something beautiful. We marveled from inside the stone patio at the well he had manufactured in the center. The marble pillars and intricately built stone and marble pergola surrounding it had a matching bell tower on its roof.

DantesWellDantesTurret

Further to one side was an outdoor warehouse of enormous sheets of marble and stone.

He told us that his son, who worked in corporate Italy, would help him from time to time, and I imagined that perhaps finances were part of the “help”. Dante seemed reluctant for us to leave as we meandered back down the steep driveway. I asked him if a magazine photographer had ever visited here, and he shook his head “no”. I resolved to do something along those lines, thanked him in profuse broken Italian and we got back on the road.

Never did find Roberta.

 

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