Oh! We’re having a heatwave …

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Looking Southeast across Lake Como from the top of Cernobbio. Photo: JH.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019. The last three days, as most of America knows from experience, have been about the weather. The HOT! weather. 

Dominique Langlois took this photo across the avenue from the Park looking west as the deluge began late yesterday afternoon.

Right after I wrote that last sentence, there was a huge thunderclap that made me jump in my seat, and then came the downpour!!

The weather, or rather, the heat has pretty much preoccupied most of us for the past several days. There’s nothing newsy or exciting about it. It provides very little to write about.

Except on late Sunday afternoon/early evening as the Sun was nearing the horizon, and the bluer than blue skies were accommodating pink clouds streaming by, the sunset suddenly cast a pink glow over everything – the streets, the sidewalks, the facades of the buildings, no matter their color.

It was otherworldly, as if it were a movie set dyed for a special effect. I tried to get it on camera, and although these two photos don’t quite show its intensity, the sidewalks and roadways are the closest example. Although to the eye (not the camera’s) they were a stronger hue.

Meanwhile. Gigi Benson sent us a couple of portraits that Harry did of Marylou Whitney, who died over the weekend in her 94th year; and of Robert Morgenthau, who died on Sunday, ten days before his centennial, July 31st. We are always grateful to be graced with Harry Benson’s work under any circumstances. Although he’s a much younger man than these subjects, his archive is vast and reflects honestly the last several decades in this ever changing world of ours. 

I never knew Marylou Whitney. I’m not sure I even met her. If I did it was in passing — at a public event. Therefore I have no impression of her other than her photographs. I think of that warm smile that looked like she was celebrating her life. I’m sure there was another side to her, but mainly she made it clear that she was enjoying the best foot forward.

Marylou Whitney and John Hendrickson at their home in Palm Beach, photographed by Harry Benson.

I also never met or knew Mr. Morgenthau. But I respected him. That was a long life at his game. You saw distinction in his persona. We have every reason to believe that’s what it was. He too was granted a century, so he saw it all unfold into … This!

DA Robert Morgenthau, photographed by Harry Benson in 1992.

Meanwhile, JH and his wife Danielle have been “holed up” (jokes JH) for the past few days at the Villa d’Este on Lake Como. He reported yesterday that George and Amal Clooney dined that evening (they’re six hours ahead) at the hotel’s restaurant (before the Daily Mail reported it). The Clooneys, as the world knows, have a villa on Lake Como.

The Braccio di Ferro pizza at Albergo Ristorante Giardino in Como took precedence over George and Amal.

Did he catch a glimpse of them? Nope. He and Danielle had a hankering for some of that real Italian pizza. Alas. He sent this message along with a series of his camera work of the Villa:

“If you didn’t know, the Villa has an interesting history. Commissioned in 1550 by the governor of Tivoli, Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio, as a summer residence for him and his family — it was designed by architect, sculptor, and painter Pellegrino Tibaldi. Surrounded by a private park with incredibly beautiful gardens, during the cardinal’s lifetime it became a resort of politicians, intellectuals and power brokers.

“It stayed in the family for a few decades before passing from hand to hand over many years. In 1784, a prominent Milanese family (Calderari) undertook a major restoration project and created a new Italian garden. After the death of Marquis Calderari, his wife Vittoria Peluso, a former ballerina at La Scala, married Count Domenico Pino (a Napoleonic general) and erected a mock fortress in his honor.

Cardinal Gallio built the Villa d’Este in his birthplace Cernobbio.

“In 1815,  it became the residence of Caroline of Brunswick, the estranged wife of future King George IV of England. She gave it the name Nuova Villa d’Este and had the park landscaped in the English style.

Flash forward to 1873, when the villa was transformed into a luxury hotel and has been attracting the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, Mark Twain, Greta Garbo, Elizabeth Taylor, King Albert of Belgium, Queen Beatrix of Holland, Queen Sonia of Norway; Woody Allen, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones; Bruce Springsteen and Madonna; Sir Paul Smith, Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Oscar De La Renta; Kenneth Branagh, Robert De Niro and of course, Villa d’Este’s neighbor, GC, ever since.”

The front entry portico of Villa d’Este, in Lake Como, Italy.
The gardens in the front of the property.
A cluster of green hydrangeas dot the property.
Centuries-old plane trees provide shade at the Grill restaurant. Sadly, the villa recently lost an incredible 500-year-old plane tree, believed by some to be the oldest tree in Italy.
The overgrown putting green on the grounds.
The lake facade of Villa d’Este.
A view of the top of Cernobbio from the lake’s edge.
Looking out onto the lake from Villa Cima, which was built by Caroline of Brunswick to host the Count and the Countess Pino, former owners of Villa d’Este.
Looking northeast across the lake.
A view of the sundeck.
The floating pool and lake.
The grand double staircase in the lobby.
The main entrance hall.
The tea room.
The Canova Bar.
The Colonne Room.
The main staircase which leads up to the guest rooms.
Looking towards the Queen’s Pavillion, added to the property in the late 19th century.

Looking towards the 16th century mosaic wall in the Renaissance garden.
A view to the top of the hill.
A detail of the original mosaic wall decorated with polychrome pebbles.
The sculpture of Hercules hurling Lucas into the waters below, completed in 1890.
The view from the top of hill, defined by a stand of cypress trees.
A view towards the chef’s garden and Temple of Telemacus.
A set of stairs leading up to the mock fortress.
The view from the top of the fortress down to the Villa.
Post-wedding photos in the Renaissance Garden.
A storm passing through brought the rain and cool air with it.
The calm after the storm.
A partial view of the floating pool and the Lake Como beyond.
Nightfall in the Renaissance garden.
Fortress remains high above the gardens at Ville d’Este.
Tiered slab waterfalls looking toward the statue of Hercules at the top of the hill.

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