Casa Bondi | 1926
In the dazzling Italian Renaissance, the villas outside town were places of pleasure and delight, elegant villas to enjoy things and their beauty, flavour and abundant generosity, light heartedly and to the full.
People went there to relax and chill out, to be truly happy and over the centuries this tradition has not changed. Leaving the duties and rules of daily life far behind, a whole new world opened before them with the flowers in the gardens, the fragrant odours of the banquets, a place full of joy, cheer and beauty … delightfully delicious. Here guests were made welcome and the beauties of these familiar warm places opened the heart to happiness.
Everything there was a perfume: the perfume of plants and flowers, dahlias, lily of the valley, violet, bay and the perfume of fruit, apricot, peach, grape and over all, the perfume of the great flowering trees, the magnolia with their enormous shiny leaves. These perfumes came into the house through the open windows, hovering around the children playing hide and seek behind the great four poster bed. In the kitchen on the ground floor , the pots and pans bubbled out their recipes while the tables set for breakfast with the enchanting perfumes of cakes and biscuits reached the children, making them run for their rooms and get ready to be the first in the dining room of the great frescoed house.
I was one of them.
I spent the happiest times of my childhood in the Belle Epoque villa in Budrio, built by my great great grandparents near our Renaissance tower. It was our place of pleasure and delight.
A house is not just a building but is the home of the people who live in it, their stories, joys, dreams and traditions. Their home goes hand in hand with delight, delight makes it a wonderful house, a harmony of details, elegance, a place to be enraptured by beauty, perfumes, taste and savoir faire.
I remember the hand embroidered hemp sheets that hung out to dry in the sun smelling of lavender, as they waited to be ironed, packaged up with pink and ivory satin ribbons and then placed with loving care in the cupboards.
Grandma Dina created her recipes of delight while overseeing duties in the kitchen, and the domestics chatted and laughed as they worked. The delights were fresh vegetables from the garden, the perfume of citrus from the “limonaia” or lemon house, and that magnolia tree that I love, and it loves me, the chosen place of all my games as a child.
These are my most precious memories today, together with the sweet smelling linden trees and the Mediterranean perfume of rosemary growing among the sage and oregano, the basil and the wise words of my grandmother.
Our deepest felt traditions live on in that house, the family gathered together around the Christmas tree, the carols, the joy, the smell of orange peel and pine burning in the stove. The rare, precious party food and the story of the “Befana”, the old witch who in the heart of winter brings gifts to us, the children.
Grandma Dina would call to her and we would remain silent, curious, certain we would see her. She heard a noise, close by, up on the roof. The old witch had arrived. We ran up to the attic followed by our grandmother, with the carefree joy of children. We had been good all year long and we were to be rewarded with gifts! Back on the ground floor, we see her tracks in the ash from the fire … Grandma Dina would beam, her magic wrought, and we ate the sweetmeats the Befana had brought us, that had in fact been made by our grandmother.
That house had its traditions, handed down from father to son and from mother to daughter, its own wise knowledge and profound taste for the beautiful and the good, for the essence and delight of life.
That bequest has now reached me and I put it into everything I do. I wish to share it with you. I was taught the art of receiving and sharing and the perfumes I mix are the fruit of my recipes, the perfumes that have given their character to my life, the perfumes of nature that welcomed me in that house. The flavour of my gastronomic fragrances are the perfumes of my land, the places I have visited, that I love and hold dear in my heart. I want to share this delight with you, in all its many, wonderful facets.