I’d like to invite you on a tour of an Italian retreat for writers, Santa Maddalena, located in the heart of Tuscany about a half-hour from Florence. It was the home of the writer Gregor Von Rezzori and his wife. When he died, she established the Santa Maddalena Foundation that offers visiting fellowships to four writers each year, as well supporting the Writers Festival described in my last two posts.
You don’t have to fly all night to Italy for this tour that will also include visits with some of well-known writers who have worked there. To see the beauty of this place, hear what it means to these writers, and be introduced to Rezzori’s wife, Baronessa Beatrice Monti della Corte von Rezzori, you need only watch two engaging videos included without additional charge on this no-cost, no-frills journey. How can you resist?
The Santa Maddalena utopia has been described this way: The land, located above a wooded ravine, has been transformed into a series of garden rooms….And an olive grove and pathway that link the house to the tower where many of the writers stay. Flower covered walls and groves of oak and chestnut trees mark the way to this former signal tower from the 15th century. Below, hidden by a screen of bamboo and trees is the pool and terrace.…There also is a vegetable garden with sun-ripen tomatoes in typical Italian style.
Recent fellows have included, Colm Tolbin, Michael Cunningham, Gary Shteyngart, and Zadie Smith (twice). Bruce Chatwin wrote of his visit: “The Tower is the place where I have always worked, clear headedly and well, in winter and in summer, by day or night - And the places you work well are the places you love most.”
Jens Christian Grondahl, a Danish writer, said, “Places reflect the people who have lived in them, and Santa Maddalena resonates and shimmers with the echoes and reflections of lives spent loving beautiful things."
The tour begins here:
And continues here: