Patricia Gray Interior Design

Feng Shui and your Front Door

I love doors and have saved this picture in my files for awhile. I am now looking at it with renewed interest after being in Italy for a month and seeing old and ornate and colorful doors there (see my posting on some beautiful doors and windows from Florence here). This modern contemporary door is holding a new fascination for me.

AD Santa Monica via Carolina Eclectic

I love how you are being led into the house and how the gate echoes the detail around the door. The grass growing between the paving stones, the two potted plants beside the door are all very welcoming and invite you to enter. Front doors are the first impression the world has of your home and as the saying goes: You never get a second chance to make a first impression. What first impression does your front door give to the world? In Feng Shui (click here for an interview on Feng Shui) the energy of your home starts at your front door. Maybe it is time to repaint it, or put some new door numbers up, some new lighting, new door hardware, or maybe some fresh potted flowers?

Photo Architectural Digest Santa Monica via Carolina Eclectic


Patricia Gray writes about Interior Design inspirations, emerging trends, and the world of Design. 
While you're here, subscribe to this feed so you don't miss out.

Posted by Patricia gray
over 11 years ago

Carlo Mollino....continued

Well I have just returned home from a marvelous, fantastic month in Italy and I was going through a pile of unread magazines and to my surprise I came across an article in Australia Vogue Living March/April 2008 issue on Casa Mollino, which I had just done a posting on yesterday (isn't it funny how that works), and which museum I was fortunate enough to visit when I was in Italy. I wasn't able to take my own pictures of the inside of this fantastic museum and monument of Carlo Mollino's designs, so I will indulge you with some shots from Australian Vogue Living, which is in my estimation one of the best Interior Design magazines!!!

This house of Mollino's was decorated by him over 8 years. It was his playground and mausoleum and he never slept or entertained in it.


This is the entry off the street to Casa Mollino. You can get a glimpse of the rose garden and beyond the rose garden is the River Po.


Casa Mollino occupies the first floor (which in North America would be referred to as the second floor) of this beautiful historic building.

Egyptian references in the second bedroom include snakes engraved on the boat shaped Empire bed frame, a leopard skin is set on the floor in front of the bed (not shown in this picture). The walls are covered in leopard wallpaper, which I think is still made by one of the old wallpaper companies, although their name escapes me now.


The wall as you walk into the second bedroom is covered with Mollino's butterfly collection. The creatures were cut out of the 1955 book Joyaux Ales, published by Hachette.

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In the dining room is a marble table by Mollino and Tulip chairs by Eero Saarinen for Knoll. One of two Japanese paper lanterns hangs over the table, the other is in the living room. Mollino was fond of grouping items in pairs: 2 Japanese lanterns, 2 Murano glass chandeliers, 2 large Tridacna clam shells, etc. In the left corner of the dining room is an Arteluce lamp by Gianfranco Frattini. A beautiful tortoise shell hangs on the wall above the buffet. The mirror on the wall has corroded over time and is now has a beautiful patina. I love the juxtaposition of all these disparate items Mollino has created. Double velvet curtains hang at the windows and are also used to divide the rooms.

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Covering the hallway floor are Vietri ceramic floor tiles featuring white flowers against a blue background. The living room wall is a Japanese style sliding partition of wood and plexiglass.


In the lounge room is a photographic enlargement of a 19th century etching, a Louis XVI style fireplace designed by Mollino and an antique gold and ivory plaster mirror frame. A Caori coffee table by Vico Magistretti for Favina is placed in front of 19th century armchairs from Mollino's family home. The Japanese paper lantern echoes the one in the dining room opposite.


Leading to the balcony (which has a beautiful outlook over the Po river) are a Zebra hide (Joni I though of you when I saw this), 2 Tridacna clams and a Venini chandelier (one of two - the other is echoed in the entry hall). The stripes on the zebra are very indicative of the curves in Mollino's furniture designs. The mirrors on either side of the door have corroded over time and add to the magical allure of the space.
N.B. Venini is still manufacturing this fixture: click here


A marble shelf made by Mollino in the hall next to Man Ray's iconic "Tears" photograph.


The bathroom featuring Vietri wall tiles and an "Aircraft Door" (how interesting) serves as a link to the bedroom. Over the threshold is a portrait of Marilyn Monroe by Jack Cardiff.


The Societa Ippica Building built in the late 1930s and destroyed in 1960. It was designed as a riding academy and this was the reception room. I love the totally modern and very curvaceous wall. What a shame it was demolished!!


This is Mollino's oak and glass trestle table that sold at Christie's for the world record price of nearly 4.5 Million

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Left: This is a reproduction of an original Mollino design chair by Fulvio & Napoleone Ferrari at Casa Mollino. It's curvaceous design is very anatomically correct as I witnessed when I sat in it. The back resembles the curve of the spine and the seat is wonderfully contoured. Mollino's knowledge of the human body was indispensable for the creation of his revered furniture pieces: chairs, tables and shelves deriving brilliant and functional solutions from anatomical-inspired structures and shapes. I asked Napoleone if they would please bring this chair back into production.

Right: No not a picture of me, unfortunately. I was dressed in full tourist attire and as it was a very hot and humid day (approx 38 C and 67% humidity), I was a dripping puddle - not exactly the picture of seductive allure! This is a Mollino portrait of Evi circa 1950. The chair is a one-off item Mollino designed for his own home. Mollino was an avid photographer and was very fond of the female body.

The Furniture of Carlo Mollino

The Furniture of Carlo Mollino
Napoleone & Fulvio Ferrari have written a wonderful book on the work of Carlo Mollino. It is the culmination of 3 years of research and documentation by them.

I will leave you with this great quote of Carlo Mollino:

"Everything is permissible as long as it is fantastic"

Excerpts from: Australian Vogue Living Mar/April 08
Photography: Johannes Mueller
Text: Paola Moretti

Patricia Gray writes about Interior Design inspirations, emerging trends, and the world of Design. 
While you're here, subscribe to this feed so you don't miss out.

Posted by Patricia gray
over 11 years ago

Patricia Gray Interior Design: ...



On my recent trip to Italy I was fortunate to visit Turin for the day, which was the capital of Italy before Rome.   My Professor Maddalena Coccagna arranged a private tour of the museum of "Casa Mollino".   Napoleone Ferrari, an Italian Architect has his office in this space and maintains it as a private museum.  Napoleone was kind and generous enough to spend several hours with me showing me the space and explaining about Carlo Mollino's life and work.   And so begins my fascination with this now deceased Icon of Italian Design....Carlo Mollino:

Casa Mollino

In 1960, on the Po river in Turin, Mollino took possession of a villa, the 'warrior’s house of rest'. The magically surreal and mystical flat that Mollino occupied during the last fourteen years of his life, was a place away from the luxurious apartment he shared with his devoted housekeeper, but he never spent a single night there. His purpose may now be obvious: it was known to him that Kha

(the tomb of the royal architect Kha circa 1390-1352 B.C.E, found intact in Deir el Medineh by the Egyptologist
Ernesto Schiaparelli during his excavation campaigns between 1900 and 1920)

decorated his own future tomb in his spare time, and that’s what Mollino did with his 18th century apartment.

Mollino probably identified himself with Kha, and as the ancient Egyptians, he thought that the soul is made up of many different parts.
not only is there the physical form, but there are semi-divine parts that survive death.  Mollino, a lively and highly creative person loved life so much that he wanted to replicate every aspect of it and carry it to the kingdom of the dead.

Casa Mollino is his private pyramid. An eclectic space, carefully created by his own aesthetic sense, made up of reminiscences of his life that appear among mirrors, lace curtains and velvet. The apartment was Mollino’s physical space of eternity, decorated only with things to be taken along and accompanied by spiritual messages.Today, Casa Mollino is owned by Fulvio and Napoleone Ferrari, who recreated the original state of the interiors.

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Left: Tiled entry foyer & view down central corridor to bedrooms.  Shoji screens to left open to living room & dining room.  The corridor is hung with heavy velvet curtains and the end of the hallway is mirrored so the effect is one of the hallway extending to infinity.

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Mollino salvaged doors from the theatre that was being renovated in Turin and used them throughout the suite.  In the living room he lined one in mirror and created a miniature marble fireplace that acted more like a shrine.  On either side of the fireplace he enlarged photographs of landscapes and papered the walls.  the chandelier is Murano glass.  You can see the shoji screen on the right picture that separates this room from the entry foyer.  The velvet curtain can close off the dining room from the living.

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Left: view of his favourite leather sofa
Right: one of two large shells that flank the door going to the patio.  Zebra carpet - Mollino was fond of curves and organic shapes.

Above photos: Inside Casa Mollino

Carlo Mollino   is a real genius of modern architecture and furniture design in Italy. Born in Turin 1905; d Turin, 1973. He was trained as an architect, the son of the engineer Eugenio Mollino (1873-1953). He studied at the faculty of architecture of the Politecnico, Turin, graduating in 1931. Among early influences were the 'second Futurism' of the post-war period and a close friendship with the painter and scholar Italo Cremona (b 1905). At the beginning of his career Mollino collaborated with his father but also worked independently, producing such notable designs as the headquarters of the Confederazione degli Agricoltori (1933-4), Cuneo, and particularly the headquarters of the Societ Ippica Torinese (1935-9) in Turin. In the latter Mollino interpreted the doctrines of Neo-plasticism* and Rationalism** with great freedom, adapting spatial, material and technical ideas with complete originality. His first experiments in furnishings also date from this period, including promotional stands, residential rooms and individual items of furniture.

I quote Mollino directly from his writing entitled "Architettura, spazio creato" (Architecture, Created Space): "Only when a work is not explainable other than in terms of itself can we say that we are in the presence of art. This ineffable quality is the hallmark of an authentic work. Whoever contemplates it receives a "shock" that is unmistakable and, above all, unexplainable - a shock that he or she will try in vain to explain in rational terms. There are no reasons. If there were, we would have a way to build a convenient machine for making art through logic and grammar....."

Furniture Design

A world record price for a piece of 20th Century Furniture was set in June 2005 when a piece designed by Carlo Mollino was auctioned by Christie's New York in June 2005. An oak and glass table for Casa Orengo, 1949 sold for $3,824,000.00

In the 1940s and 50s there was an explosion of design in Milan that established the sleek, fashionable and modern image of Italian furniture. On the other side of that movement, coming out of Turin, was Carlo Mollino (1905-1973), working from natural and animal shapes-- tree branches, animal horns, the curve of the human body-- to establish the "streamlined surreal" series of furniture designs. These pieces, evolved from an appreciation for the shapes of Art Nouveau and the architect Antoni Gaudi, were more expressive, and often more sculptural, than those being produced in Milan at the same time. The changes in his style over the years responded to the evolving technology of bending and working with wood.

He interpreted the doctrines of neo-plasticism* and rationalism** of the period with great freedom, adapting spatial, material and technical ideas with complete originality. The figure or the form of the human body is an element which is always present in Mollino's designs.

The furniture that Carlo Mollino designed was often one-off pieces produced specifically for the client whose house he was decorating. so many of his pieces are very rare today. His large range of prototype furnishings were made in the studio of Apelli and Varesio in Turin.

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1950 Apelli and Varesio Studio in Turin

Below are some of Carlo Mollino's furniture designs:

1940 chair for Lisa et Gio Ponti

1944 Armchair for the Minola house. Reissued as model "Ardea"

1946 desk

1946 desk

1948 "Casa Orengo" chair

1949 "Arabesco" low table - plywood and glass

1952 "Gilda" armchair

1954 Gilda armchair

1954 wood table for the Pavia restaurant

1959 chair for the "Lutrario" ballroom

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Interior Design

He began producing furniture, like his 1937 "Milo" mirror, shaped like the Venus de Milo, and designing interiors, like the Miller House (1937). His interiors during this period were characterized by their use of draped fabric to divide a room and by the use of sensuous upholstery like padded velvet. The Miller house also had an innovative lighting system, a mounted fixture on a track, which curved around the ceiling. His other well-known interior was for the Minola house in 1944. The pieces he created for them included a radio-gramophone and a small glass table.

Casa Miller  1937image

Casa Miller 1937 Milo Mirror 1937
courtesy Museo Casa Mollino - Torino

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La Casa e l'ideale - Per la rivista Domus, 1943 Casa Ada e Cesare Minola - Interno - Torino, Italia, 1944


Mollino was also an outrageous photographer. Each shoot was a sort of ceremony, he incessantly controlled every aspect of these remarkable images - although the negative, that is born perfect, for him does not exist. Mollino made use of retouching techniques in order to create a certain fantasy he had already constructed in his mind's eye. "everything is allowed, imagination is always saved" wrote Carlo Mollino.


* Neo-Plasticism was an art movement that came during the years between the two World Wars and to some extent, was an reaction on the part of their founders to the irrationality and chaos of "the war to end all wars." Neo-plasticism sought to impose upon art a sense of careful, compositional, and chromatic order. It was an austere exploration of design elements to the exclusion of all else. Neo Plasticism was the brainchild of Piet Mondrian. Artists such as van Doesburg, Severini, Lissitzky, and Arp teamed with the Bauhaus school, hoping to see adopted a universal language of art, and its integration into every aspect of daily life. The movement worked (with considerable success) to influence everything from painting to architecture, furniture design, interior design, consumer products, advertising, and even urban planning. It was utopian. It was socialistic, and it had a strong influence in Germany. Ironically, though it collapsed in disarray amidst the turmoil of Hitler and the Second World War, it was not without influence amongst the utopian planners of the Third Reich.

** Rationalism The intellectual principles of Rationalism are based on architectural theory. Vitruvius had already established in his work De Architectura that architecture is a science that can be comprehended rationally. This formulation was taken up and further developed in the architectural treatises of the Renaissance. Progressive art theory of the 18th-century opposed the Baroque beauty of illusionism with the classic beauty of truth and reason.

Twentieth-century Rationalism derived less from a special, unified theoretical work than from a common belief that the most varied problems posed by the real world could be resolved by reason. In that respect it represented a reaction to historicism and a contrast to Art Nouveau and Expressionism.

Posted by Patricia gray
over 11 years ago

The Island of Giudecca


A Special Hi to all of you from Venice.  I arrived on the Island of Giudecca on Saturday.  The yellow paper lanterns were lining the canal in anticipation of the annual fireworks that night called Rendentore.  My first stop on our all-day tour was the famous Hilton Mulino Stucky, that had an almost 360 degree view of Venice from the rooftop garden and pool.

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The day was hot...34 degrees and 56 per cent humidity, but that didn't stop me from having my breath taken away by all the beauty surrounding me!

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A view down one of the interior canals on Giudecca (left)
A view of the promenade (right)

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This was an espaliered vine that covered a marble wall on the roof top of the Mulino Stucky

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A type of bean ever so gracefully opening out of the most delicate flower

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A view down one of the alleys.  There was a abundance of greenery and flowers almost everywhere.

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The reflections of the sun on the water are so ethereal and cast a spell on you.

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A view from the window in the Mulino Stucky Hotel (left)
The sunlight shining through a window in my Hotel (right)

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The island of Giudecca is not a popular tourist destination.  It is mainly occupied by residents, so it was so pleasant to stroll the sidewalks next to the canals and the back alleys.  We virtually only saw the locals.




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  A view across the lagoon to Venice taken from a cafe we stopped to have an espresso. 

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They even have graffiti, but I particularly was taken with the soft muted colors - so tasteful. (right photo)


The colors were vibrant

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The flowers were magnificent.  The Venetians take such pride in their homes.

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This was washing strung out to dry in the hot sun.

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Doors and windows were so attractive

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Stairways over intersecting canals

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These were some contemporary housing projects we visited on the tour

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Fresh fish market that was setting up for the day

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A delicate squash blossom


To be continued.............Ciao for now!!!!


Patricia Gray writes about Interior Design inspirations, emerging trends, and the world of Design. 
While you're here, subscribe to this feed so you don't miss out.

Posted by Patricia gray
over 11 years ago

VENICE - Bauer Palladio Hotel &a...

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While in Venice I will be staying at the Bauer Palladio Hotel & SPA. It is an amazing building designed in the year 1500 by the world-renowned Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. It is one of his 18 surviving villas of the Veneto.  Here are a few books if you want to read up on the architecture of Palladio

Palladio and Palladianism (World of Art)The Perfect House : A Journey with Renaissance Master Andrea PalladioThe Villas of PalladioPalladio's Venice: Architecture and Society in a Renaissance Republic

The Four Books on ArchitecturePalladian Days: Finding a New Life in a Venetian Country HousePalladio (Architect and Society)


It has a private garden (a rarity in Venice) 

and breathtaking lagoon views (this is where I will be view the fireworks display on Saturday night.  Read more about that below)


Public areas have Venetian terrazzo floors, original open-brickwork walls, and antique furnishings; trelliswork stencils and Murano-glass lanterns.  It is located on the Giudecca Island just across the canal basin from Venice.

Map of the location of the Palladio Spa across from the main island of Venice

The Palladio was designed by Andrea Palladio in 1500

The Palladio today in 2008 

I will reach the property by taking the hotel's innovative B-Mare, a solar-powered shuttle between the main Hotel adjacent to Piazza San Marco, a mere 10-minute blissful vaporetto ride.image

Setting an unprecedented example in eco-friendly efforts, the BAUER, Venice's first luxury hotel and one of the most prestigious family-run properties, has purchased a revolutionary energy-efficient nautical system for its new
Hotel Palladio. 
B MARE shuttle boat. image image

Created by Posidonia Srl and MW Lugano, leaders in Europe for their electric propulsion and solar-energy MW Line™ of boats, this electro solar powered system allows the B Mare vaporetto (Bauer of the Sea) to operate with no pollution, no noise, and no waves between the Bauer's main hotel near St. Mark's Square and the new Bauer Palladio Hotel & Spa on Giudecca Island, just across the lagoon.

Bauer Hotel Chair & CEO, Francesca Bortolotto Possati, is the first in Venice to make a substantial effort in providing clean-energy water transportation. Bortolotto Possati is a passionate Venetian who works tirelessly to maintain her birthplace and home as a top travel destination, and to prevent Venice's disappearance. "I feel it is my duty to help maintain and preserve the architectural integrity and atmosphere of this unique city for years to come," says Bortolotto Possati. "My family has lived in Venice for many generations and it is my goal to keep our city preserved to every extent possible."

There are 7 rooms on the second floor all with spectacular views of the lagoon, the Doge's Palace, and St. Mark's Square.


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I thought this meeting room was interesting.  It is a little hard to see, but those are rows of Philippe Starck Ghost Chairs, a whole room of them!!!


I have just found out that I have an extra treat in store for me on this visit to Venice - I am there juring the Redentore, one of the Venetians' most treasured festivities which culminates in a spectacular firework display in the evening with the unbeatable backdrop of Saint Mark's Basin. A play of lights and reflections produce a kaleidoscope of colours with the silhouetted spires, domes and bell towers of the city behind.

FireworksFireworks and the Grand Canal

All of which I will be able to view from my room across the Giudecca Canal!  I don't think it gets any better than that.

Giovanni Grevenbroch, Pizzicamorti (gravedigger)The origin of the festival was to celebrate the end to the plague, that raged through the city in the three years between 1575 and 1577.  Aided by the high density of the population, the disease spread through the city, causing terrible losses. Almost 50,000 died, which was more than a third of the city's inhabitants.

Alessandro Varotari, Doge Mocenigo looking at Redentore Church's modelOn September 4, 1576, the Senate decided that the Doge should announce the vow to erect a church dedicated to the Redentore (Redeemer), in return for help in ending the plague.

Giuseppe Heinz, Processione del RedentoreOn July 13, 1577, the plague was declared definitively over and it was decided that the city's liberation from the terrible disease should be celebrated on the third Sunday in July.

FireworksThe Redentore today
At sunset the well illuminated boats, decorated with boughs and coloured balloons, begin congregating in Saint Mark's Basin and the Giudecca Canal. In the boats people eat traditional food, waiting for the firework display, which begins at 11.30pm and lasts until after midnight.
Boats at the Redentore RegattaThe weekend ends with a Gondola Regatta

A few of the sites to see in Venice


The Rialto Bridge


St Mark's Square Campanile


Venetian Palace


Canal Scene

The Zattere: A Spacious Waterfront Promenade

The Zattere was constructed in 1519 as a landing stage for timber, but is now a waterfront promenade lined by a series of notable buildings and monuments.

The Zattere runs along virtually the entire southern shore of the Dorsoduro district of Venice. It offers superb views of the spectacular Palladian architecture on the island of Giudecca (That's where my Hotel is located)immediately to its south.

The Zattere WaterfrontView of Giudecca from the Zattere
photo Wai Heng Chow - FOTOLIA

The westernmost point of the Zattere, known as the San Basilio, is named after a church, long since demolished, which was once located there.

The yellow-fronted Scuola dei Luganagheri, a few doors along, was formerly a sausage maker’s guild, but is now a restaurant, the only remaining evidence of its previous use being the two marble tablets either side of a statue of Saint Anthony.


Dorsoduro is one of six sestieri or districts of central Venice, and is located on the south-western side of town. It includes the long southern shore of Venice which faces over the water to the Giudecca.

It houses some of the most picturesque canals and palazzi, and some of the town's great art showcases, without the pretension and tourist traps that you might expect. It's a studenty area, home to Venice's Ca' Foscari University, and has more late-night drinking bars than the rest of Venice. The general vibe is artistic, youthful and relaxed.

Dorsoduro highlights

Accademia - Venice's great art gallery
Peggy Guggenheim Collection - modern art in an unusual palazzo on the Grand Canal.
Santa Maria della Salute - this church dominates several of Venice's most famous views.
Ca' Rezzonico - a museum of the 18th Century in the Grand Canal palazzo where Robert Browning died.
San Sebastiano - a colourful church decorated almost entirely by Paolo Veronese, who is also buried here..
The Zattere - a long promenade along Venice's southern shore, facing over the water to the Giudecca.
Church of the Carmini - large church with paintings by Lorenzo Lotto and Cima da Conegliano. The adjacent Scuola has a ceiling by Giambattista Tiepolo.


Very Cool Google Map of Venice


This is a fascinating Google Map of Venice and the surrounding vicinity, that I found on the Internet.  It is an overlay of photos.  Just click on the photo and you can see what that area looks like at ground level.  Click here to go to this amazing web-site.

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My reading on the plane is the novel on the life of:  Lucrezia Borgia: Life, Love, and Death in Renaissance Italy
This book was recommended to me by Albarosa, a reader of my Blog.  She recommended novel written by the author Maria Bellonci, but all I could find on short notice was by the author Sarah Bradford.
(BTW I wish the fashion of wearing a jewel on our forehead would come back into style)

Lucrezia Borgia who was married to Alfonso d'Este (Prince of Ferrara) in 1520.  You can read more about her
"Several rumors have persisted throughout the years, primarily speculating as to the nature of the extravagant parties thrown by the Borgia family. Many of these concern allegations of incest, poisoning, and murder on her part; however, no historical basis for these rumors have ever been brought forward, beyond allegations made by the rivals of the Borgias.  It is rumored that Lucrezia was in possession of a hollow ring that she used frequently to poison drinks"

"Lucrezia's father was the powerful Renaissance Valencian who later became Pope Alexander VI. Lucrezia's family  came to epitomize the ruthless Machiavellian politics and sexual corruption alleged to be characteristic of the Renaissance Papacy. Lucrezia was cast as a femme fatale, a role she has been portrayed in many artworks, novels and films."

Her life and the times she lived in makes for Juicy reading!!!


Portrait of a Woman by Bartolomeo Veneziano, traditionally assumed to be Lucrezia Borgia 



Posted by Patricia gray
over 11 years ago