Observations from the Road (Or The “I’ve Been Everywhere” Edition)

Rook Coffee

Dad Hat from Rook Coffee (photo credit: Rook Coffee)

Life on the road can become a blur.  I began writing this from the Molly Pitcher Inn’s dining room which overlooks the Navesink River in Red Bank, New Jersey. Candice and I have come here to celebrate the 40th wedding anniversary of her cousin Mary Beth and husband Greg.  It is the second time we find ourselves in Red Bank in three weeks, as we were here earlier in the month to celebrate with family and friends the life of Candice’s aunt and godmother, and Mary Beth’s mother, who passed away at age 90.

June is perhaps a bit more than typical in terms of travel (16 out of the first 24 days spent on the road), but only at the margins.  Good thing that I enjoy it.  In June alone I’ve not only visited Red Bank twice, but I’ve also been to Madison, Wisconsin (one of prettiest small college cities in America…in the summer); Athens and Atlanta, Georgia (my God, they never stop building highways); Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (a gem of a city with much to recommend it and work to be done); and Hampton, Virginia (home of Fort Monroe, Freedom’s Fortress). And there’s still a week to go before we hit the 4th of July weekend!

I’ve thought so many times of writing a blog post on this or that subject, only to drop the idea as I rush to a meeting or another airport.  So this “Observations from…” post will be very short (dare I say Twitter-like”) comments on several things swirling around my travel-addled mind.

Rook Rocks—The waitress at the Molly Pitcher on Friday morning commented on my big cup of Rook Coffee. I told her I just had to try any independent coffee shop with the guts to locate next to a Starbucks, as is the case with Rook in downtown Red Bank’s wonderful Main Street.  She replied, “Oh, you’re not from around here.  In these parts, Rook so out-performs Starbucks.  After a few sips, I knew why.

Independent Coffee Shops (and bookstores) are holding their own—I’ve come to seek out those independent coffee shops no matter where I go.  When in Madison, stop by Colectivo Coffee on the Square. Their baristas  rival Rook in their friendliness (and they have that Midwestern Nice vibe going for them).  Jittery Joe’s is a tasty find in Athens. And on that rare occasion when I’ve been in DC, I took the time to stop by my favorite bookstore, Politics and Prose, where Candice and I enjoyed a late-night coffee recently at The Den after stocking up at the store’s member sale.

Everyone (and every thing) needs refurbishing now and then—I have stayed in just about every type of hotel imaginable this month. Most have been great.  A couple have been a bit long in the tooth.  Just like people, hotels need the occasional refurbishment every now and again. Let’s begin with those electrical outlets. (I’m looking at you, Molly Pitcher Inn!)

If I keep up this level of travel, I’m going to have to break down and get the MLB network—In June I’ve been to the ballpark once (but have a second game next week to see the World Champion Cubs and our Nats) and have only caught about five games on television. While I have enjoyed catching up with some other teams, I miss seeing my Nats on a regular basis.  And I really like our announcers—Bob and F.P.—after sampling home team announcers in other cities.  Truth be told, however, I don’t miss the heartburn that goes with the all-too-frequent Nats bullpen meltdown.  Come on, Rizzo, please go find a closer.  Thank God for yesterday’s laugh-fest blowout against the Reds!  And I want to have a renaissance like Ryan Zimmerman!

I have to drive HOW FAR to go see the Braves—Even though I don’t need to visit the new Atlanta Braves stadium to add another one to my bucket list, I gave serious consideration to taking in a game one evening while I was in town.  Then I Googled the distance from my mid-town hotel.  Then I drove a bit in Atlanta.  Then I watched the game from the comfort of my hotel room.  What a dumb way to build a broad base of support for a sport that’s already seen as too old and white…build a new stadium way out in the northern suburbs to make sure that the city’s African-American fan base (real and potential) can’t get there.  Jeez.

If I bite my tongue any more, part of it will fall off—I try to keep politics out of my blog. For now.  But with so many things happening to endanger our American experiment in democracy, I may have to throw caution to the wind.  I’ve traveled in both red and blue states this month and I’ve spoken with people from across the political divide.  We need to face some hard facts as a nation.

Celebrate family and friends—Candice and I were talking today about all the interactions with family and friends we’ve experienced in recent months.  Funerals.  Weddings.  Wedding Anniversaries (our own and others). Birthdays.  Celebrations of Mothers and Fathers. Dinner parties. Picnics on our saint’s day at church.  We’ve traveled for as many of these as we’ve celebrated at home in Washington.  When family isn’t nearby, you lose something by not making the effort to see them on a regular basis.  And friends expand the family circle.  We are blessed on both counts.

Father's Day at Jack Rose

Drinking whiskey at Jack Rose on Father’s Day with Andrew

Is anything better than bourbon and baseball for Father’s Day—That’s a trick question.  Nope.  Well, yes there is.  It would have been even better if Claire had been here in D.C. with us.  Andrew and Candice took me to Jack Rose Dining Saloon for a Father’s Day feast and some mighty fine bourbon last Sunday. (Largest bourbon selection in the Western Hemisphere!) Claire and Andrew are buying me a Nats jacket in anticipation of those October playoff games.  What could be finer?  (Another trick question.) Woo hoo!

Even in very busy and often challenging times, it is important to remember the wonder of travel, the joy of seeing new places, the lifetime pleasures of staying connected with family, the unexpected moments of delight that come from an expanded circle of friends, and the satisfaction of seeing (and being) people living their passion.

More to come…

DJB

Chowing Down at the Red Rooster

Spring succotash

Spring succotash at the Red Rooster

I had two meetings yesterday in Harlem.  Fortunately, the second one was over lunch at the Red Rooster.

Oh my!

Deviled eggs to die for.  Homemade lemonade.  Cornbread that “came from heaven” according to our wonderful waitress (and her sense of direction was pretty good).  My main dish (an appetizer) was described on the menu as:

A Bit of Shenandoah Valley Musical Magic in the Big Apple

T&B Opus 65

Taylor & Boody Opus 65 at Grace Church NYC

Even in New York City, it doesn’t take much to realize how small the world can be at times.

Candice and I had a flashback to our wonderful 15 years of living in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia when we realized that Grace Church – just four blocks from our friends’ apartment in Greenwich Village – is home to one of the most astounding Taylor & Boody organs (Opus 65) I’ve seen.  (More on that in a minute.) George Taylor and John Boody are longtime friends as well as world-class organbuilders, and as soon as I found this on the Grace Church website, it was clear where we would be on Sunday morning.

It all started coming back as we entered the church.  Candice and I had watched this organ being installed through John Boody’s Facebook page.  Kate Harrington – our friend and the wonderful daughter of dear friends Jim and Constance Harrington – was one of the pipe makers for this organ and helped with the installation.  Andrew, when he was at Brown University, stopped by to see the organ being installed and chatted with John and George.  We knew this organ.

So today was book-ended by two wonderful services of music on a magical organ.

 

North chancel case

The north chancel case

This morning, we went to a Eucharist and heard the choirmaster and organist – Dr. Patrick Allen – take the instrument through its paces with a beautiful prelude and postlude, a wonderful improvised intro to In the Bleak Midwinter as well as a thoughtful rendering of Lift Every Voice and Sing in celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

We returned this afternoon for an hour-long organ “meditation” (part of Grace’s gift to the city, six days a week).  And this is where this beautiful, 77-stop instrument was allowed to really  shine.

Dr. Patrick Allen at the console

Dr. Patrick Allen at the console of Opus 65

 

Candice and Patrick Allen with Opus 65

Patrick Allen demonstrates the different pipe voices to Candice at Grace Church

Patrick (by this time we had met him following the morning service and were on a first name basis), had programmed a Sunday afternoon meditation that called on different eras of music and different colors from the instrument.  Pieces by Louis-Nicolas Clérambault, Johann Pachelbel, J.S. Bach, Gerre Hancock, and Louis Vierne were featured.  Bach’s “Präludium und Fuge in e-moll, BWV 533” sounded right at home on this organ, while the “Air” by Gerre Hancock – a composer I was not familiar with* – was quiet and meditative: a perfect fit for a late afternoon respite in the bustling city.

Opus 61

Opus 61 – a continuo organ – at Grace Church NYC

As we talked with Patrick and looked at the two beautiful instruments at Grace (they also have a small continuo – Opus 61), I began thinking about how many of the 73 (to date) Taylor & Boody organs I had seen in my lifetime.  While I won’t try to see them all (this doesn’t equal my quest to visit all 32 major league baseball stadiums), I still am off to a good start.  Here’s the list so far (with the ones I’ve heard live in bold font):

  • Opus 3 – Westminster Presbyterian Church, Charlottesville, VA
  • Opus 11 – St. Helena’s Episcopal Church, Beaufort, SC
  • Opus 24 – Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, Staunton, VA
  • Opus 27 – St. Thomas Episcopal Church Fifth Avenue, New York City, NY
Opus 27 at St. Thomas

Taylor and Boody Opus 27 at St. Thomas 5th Avenue in NYC (photo credit: Taylor & Boody)

  • Opus 34 – Trinity Episcopal Church, Staunton, VA (The organ in our home church in Staunton, which includes some walnut from a tree that we cut down in our side yard and donated to the project – we visit “our” organ every time we stop in at Trinity.)
Taylor and Boody Organ in Trinity Episcopal Church, Staunton, VA (photo credit: Taylor & Boody)

Taylor and Boody Organ in Trinity Episcopal Church, Staunton, VA (photo credit: Taylor & Boody)

David Tannenberg Organ

The restored 1800 David Tannenberg Organ in Old Salem

  • Opus 47 – 1798 David Tannenberg Organ, Winston-Salem, NC
  • Opus 61 – Grace Church in New York City, New York City, NY
  • Opus 65 – Grace Church in New York City, New York City, NY
  • Opus 72 – Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church, Bethesda, MD
John Boody points to features on Opus 72 following the inaugural concert at Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church

John Boody points to features on Opus 72 following the inaugural concert at Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church

Which makes 10 out of 73…and some I haven’t seen are pretty easy to visit (such as Opus 70 at the Virginia Theological Seminary).  Perhaps I’ll set a goal to see one-quarter of these instruments in my lifetime.  That sounds like a good bucket list number.  And as long as George, John, and their talented staff of organbuilders continues to turn out beautiful instruments, I’ll just keep stretching that goal.

South chancel case and console

The south chancel case and console of the Grace Church NYC organ

Thanks George, John, Patrick and all for a wonderful gift to Grace Church, the city, and two travelers who got a bit homesick for the valley while in the Big Apple.

More to come…

DJB

*After posting this, Andrew texted me to say  that Gerre Hancock was one of the best improvisers and American organists ever and the long-time organist at St. Thomas Fifth Avenue.  Several friends of Andrew studied under him.

Top Posts of 2016 (The “Whatever Else Tickles My Fancy” Edition)

WWDJBD?

What Would DJB Do?

As promised yesterday, I’m back with the top posts on More to Come… from 2016 that don’t relate to family and friends.  What I’m calling the “Whatever Else Tickles My Fancy” edition.

In a year when I took my sabbatical in Rome and Maine, many of the top posts are from those trips. If my day job doesn’t work out, I may have a future as a travel writer! As was the case with yesterday’s top ten, I’ll list them in the order they appeared during the year.

I left for Rome in early March, and Time Off was my post to set the stage for my sabbatical. I had a number of nice comments from friends and colleagues with well wishes.  I also got to showcase my cool “What Would DJB Do?” mug!

My first post from the American Academy came on March 10th, and was entitled Looking Back, Looking ForwardAfter that, I was posting 3-4 times per week for the remainder of the six weeks we were in Italy.

Claire joined us for a week in Italy soon after we arrived, and we took the opportunity to visit Florence and Tuscany.  48 Hours in Tuscany chronicled our weekend in this wonderful Italian region.

CCB, CHB, and DJB at the top of Florence

At the top of Florence: proof that we made it!

Among our day trips while in Italy, Orvieto was right at the top of the favorites.  Orvieto:  A Jewel in Umbria was my attempt to cover all we had seen…but I inadvertently left out the chapel in the Duomo that a dear friend studied for her doctoral dissertation.  Yikes!  I will note that readers seemed to like the pictures in this post.

Duomo di Orvieto facade

Duomo di Orvieto facade from the street

Late in our time in Rome we were looking for a break from all the saints and visited Villa Farnesina.  The Pleasures of Villa Farnesina is primarily pictures of a wonderful Roman villa and its artwork.

When one topic isn’t enough for one post, I’ll pull together several topics in what I call my “Observations from…” category. At the end of our time at the American Academy in Rome, I posted Observations from the Road: The “Final Rome” Edition…for this Visit.  I caught up with our last couple of days in the city and took the opportunity to thank a whole bunch of people.

The August 14th post from Deer Isle Maine was entitled Observations from the Road (Or the Deer Isle’s “Locally Sourced Food and Music” edition)I covered so many topics from several days of exploration in Maine that it isn’t a surprise that this was a top ten post…it had something for everyone!  Plus the food pictures were tasty in their own right.

Fish from Whale's Rib

Fresh local seafood from the Whale’s Rib Tavern (photo credit: Pilgrim’s Inn)

We left the Pilgrim’s Inn (reluctantly) at the end of our Maine sabbatical, but I wrote a love letter to this wonderful place entitled Pilgrim’s Inn:  Our Home Away From Home.  The innkeeper, Tina Oddleifson, linked the post to her popular Facebook page, and my views shot way up!  You’ll have to read it to see the importance of Q-tips to a wonderful lodging.

Pilgrim Inn

Pilgrim Inn at Deer Isle, Maine, in the late afternoon light

Another of my Monday Musings cracked the top ten in October.  Loss, Rebirth, Baseball, and Why Old Places Matter was an email I sent to my staff following the Nationals’ loss in the playoffs.  For some strange reason, this season’s loss in the playoffs didn’t hurt as much as in 2012 and 2014.  Lower expectations are often the key to happiness.

Late in the year, Claire texted us about a sermon she had heard at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California.  I watched it online, and immediately sat down and wrote You Can’t Stop the RevolutionThe Rev. Mike Kinman had a powerful message about Mary, and how “God’s revolution of love will be led by fierce, nasty women.”  The sermon resonated with several readers, especially given the politics of the past year.

And there you have it:  the non-family focused top ten posts of 2016.  Thanks, as always, for reading and for the comments.

More to come…

DJB

Our Year in Photos – 2016

Browns at the Cathedral

Andrew, Candice, Claire and DJB on December 20, 2015 (Photo by John Thorne)

As we enter this season of Thanksgiving, I continue my tradition of posting family photographs from the past year on More to Come… We have much for which to be thankful in 2016.

During a year when our country has seen much distrust, hatred, and focus on the worst aspects of our common life, we – like so many of you – are working hard to recognize the many blessings we have shared individually, as a family, and within our communities.  Not everyone in our families and in our group of friends agrees with our outlook on life. But no matter where one stands on the political divide, it is clear that we have a profoundly broken country at the moment. Our family will try and be advocates for a loving, inclusive country that recognizes the gifts of all and the bounty available if we will only embrace the “we” as well as the “me” in our communities.  I know we have to do more.

Last December, I gathered with all my brothers and sisters in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  Not only was it a time when the family could come together to grieve the loss of Carol’s husband Raouf, but it was also the last time I would see my father – although I didn’t realize it at the time.

Brown Children - Advent 2015

DJB with his brothers and sisters: Debbie, Steve, Carol, and Joe

 

Daddy and Steve

With my father, Tom Brown, and brother Steve in December 2015

December is also the time when we celebrate Andrew and Claire’s birthdays.  Now that they are adults, it is always fun to enjoy a nice dinner (with wine pairings!) at wonderful restaurants such as the Iron Gate.

23rd birthday celebration

Celebrating 23rd birthdays at Iron Gate Restaurant on December 20, 2015

2016 was the year Andrew’s professional focus shifted towards music.  In January, he sang his first gig as a sub at the Washington National Cathedral, where he once sang treble as a Boy Chorister.

Andrew at the Cathedral

Andrew sings with the Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys

With the children grown, Candice is able to travel with me for work on occasion.  In late February I had a speaking engagement in Bedford, New York, and we took the opportunity to spend time at the Marcel Breuer House on the grounds at Kykuit, a National Trust Historic Site.

Candice at the Breuer House

Candice enjoys a morning coffee at the Marcel Breuer House, a National Trust Historic Site

In early March, Andrew was invited to join Lady Gaga and other survivors of sexual assault onstage at the Academy Awards as she performed “Till it Happens to You.”  Among the many people he met on that emotional trip was Vice President Joe Biden.

Andrew with the VP

Andrew with Vice President Joe Biden following the Oscars

The family’s biggest 2016 adventure was my six-week sabbatical at the American Academy in Rome during March and April, and an additional two weeks of sabbatical during August in Maine.  Candice joined me for the entire sabbatical and both Claire and Andrew came for visits of several days while we were in Rome.

Chiaraviglio Apts

My home away from home – the Chiaraviglio Apartments at the American Academy in Rome

Claire’s visit was early in our stay, and we used the occasion to explore Tuscany, as well as some of the very familiar sites in Rome.

CCB and DJB in San Gimignano

Candice and DJB in San Gimignano

 

San Gmignano

Claire and Candice in San Gimignano

 

CCB, CHB, and DJB at the top of Florence

At the top of Florence: proof that we made it!

 

First day in Rome

Claire on her first day in Rome

We were lucky to be able to celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary during my time on sabbatical.  The evening brought back many memories.

34th anniversary

Celebrating our 34th wedding anniversary at Ditirambo in Rome

In addition to wonderful food and wine, Rome was full of beautiful architecture and new adventures (for us), such as Holy Week in the Eternal City.

Pantheon ceiling and light

The Pantheon ceiling and light

 

Palm Sunday

The priest leads the Palm Sunday procession at the Basilica di San Pancrazio

Andrew arrived in Italy after Easter, and we took advantage of his visit to travel to Venice.  What an incredible city.

Andrew and the cutaway

Andrew goes bonkers after catching a glimpse of the magnificent cutaway model of the basilica

 

DJB on the loggia

DJB on the loggia of the basilica, overlooking the Piazza San Marco

 

Bridge of Sighs

Bridge of Sighs in Venice

 

Enjoying lunch with Andrew and Candice in Murano

Enjoying lunch with Andrew and Candice in Murano

All of us made like Italians and drank caffe at every chance we could get.

ABB at Sant Eustachio

Andrew at Sant Eustachio il Caffe

Throughout my visit, I posted pictures and observations from some of the most beautiful places in the city.  The Protestant Cemetery and Borromini’s San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane were among my (many) favorites.

Angel of Grief

Angel of Grief by W.W. Story

 

Dome of San Carlo

Dome of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane

We returned to the states in late April, in time for me to welcome musician Ben Folds to the National Trust’s headquarters in Washington.

Ben Folds at NTHP

With Ben Folds at the Washington Offices of the National Trust

In May, we said good-bye to the most wonderful father, father-in-law, grandfather that one could hope for.  Daddy passed away as he was nearing his 91st birthday.  It was a joyous celebration with hundreds of friends and family members.

Tom Brown

Tom Brown

 

Daddy's Funeral

Remembering Tom Brown

2016 was a good year for baseball in the Brown household.  I checked off two more stadiums from my bucket list, including Anaheim Stadium with Claire, and Candice joined me to cheer for the National League Eastern Division Champion Nationals as they closed in on the division title in September.

With Claire at the Big A

With Claire at the Big A

 

CCB and a Half Smoke

Candice with her “Half Smoke All the Way” at Nats Park.

Our summer was filled with celebrations and time with friends.  In June we all descended on Philadelphia for the wedding of Julia Pentz and Barry Katz.  Candice and I also joined friends Oakley and Margaret Pearson at the 2016 Red Wing Music Festival in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley.

Claire and Andrew ready for the wedding

Claire and Andrew ready for the wedding

 

Sierra Hull at Red Wing 2016

Sierra Hull with Justin Moore at Red Wing 2016

Claire wrapped up her year with the Episcopal Urban Intern Program in Los Angeles, but stayed in Pasadena to work for a second year at Hillsides Educational Center.  Her EUIP experience was fulfilling and life changing.

Claire's EUIP housemates

Claire with her housemates from the Episcopal Urban Intern Program in Los Angeles

August took us to Maine for the second part of my sabbatical, and then to Murfreesboro, where Andrew and I brought back a truck of furniture, books, and other memories from Daddy’s house.

Thunder Hole

Thunder Hole at Acadia National Park

 

Packing with Aunt Debbie

Andrew and Aunt Debbie prepare Daddy’s furniture and keepsakes for the ride to our home

 

Andrew in Bristol

Andrew (and his Beyonce shirt) have a foot in Tennessee and a foot in Virginia on Bristol’s famous State Street

I was lucky to take a second trip to Italy in 2016, this time to Milan and Lake Como with the International National Trusts Organisation (INTO).

Villa del Balbianello view

Villa del Balbianello on Lake Como

 

The Last Supper

The Last Supper

This fall has seen Claire and Andrew stretching their wings.  Claire has been exploring Southern California, and took a hike up Mt. Baldy on the day the Supermoon was at its height.  Andrew was on a plane to Norway that evening, to join a singing ensemble, Trondheim Vokalensemble, for a tour of the country.  We lived their adventures through their photographs!

Claire on Mount Baldy

Claire on Mount Baldy

 

Mount Baldy Super Moon

Claire and friends climb Mount Baldy in California with the Super Moon in the background

 

Trondheim

Trondheim – home base for Andrew’s Norwegian choral tour in November

 

Roros, Norway

Roros, Norway

 

Andrew in Norway

Andrew in Norway

As you can see, it has been a busy and fulfilling year.  During this Thanksgiving season, we give thanks for you, our wonderful friends.

Family in Philadelphia

With Candice, Andrew, and Claire (clockwise from bottom left) in Philadelphia last June.

Have a terrific Thanksgiving holiday with friends and families.

More to come…

DJB

Observations from the Road (Or the “Has It Been Six Weeks Since I Was in Milan?” Edition)

Villa del Balbianello view

Villa del Balbianello on Lake Como

In mid-September I published a post from Milan that promised “Lake Como and more still to come.” Next thing I know, we are pushing toward Halloween and the things I’ve wanted to post have been piling up in my brain.  So with the first open weekend in about six weeks, I’m going to catch up by using my trusty “Observations from…” catch-all post.

This edition will include photos from the second and third days of my quick trip to Milan in September for the Executive Committee meeting of the International National Trusts Organisation (INTO).

Speaking of Lake Como: 

Lake Como is beautiful.

Lake Como panorama

Lake Como panorama

We were there to visit the Villa del Balbianello, a property of FAI, the Italian National Trust.  Commissioned in the 18th century by Cardinal Durini, the villa “has hosted literati and travellers up to the time of its final owner, the adventurous explorer Guido Monzino.”  Throughout the house are travel mementoes and art objects from his 20th century life.

Villa lakeside entrance

View of the Villa del Balbianello from the lakeside entrance

 

Villa del Balbianello writing room

Villa del Balbianello writing room

 

Travel momentoes

Travel mementoes and awards

 

Garden view from Villa del Balbianello

Garden view from Villa del Balbianello

This is a remarkable home in a stunning setting.  It is easy to see why this is FAI’s most popular property.

Villa e Collezione Panza – Contemporary art in a historic villa:  As the day turned from bright blue to rainy gray, we stopped at FAI’s historic Villa Panza to view the contemporary art collection of American artists that had been assembled by Giuseppe Pana di Buomo beginning in the 1950s.

Villa Panza courtyard

Courtyard of the Villa Panza

The villa’s windows open onto a wonderful Italian garden, making for a beautiful setting for more than 150 pieces of American contemporary art.  While our National Trust in the U.S. has several historic sites that serve as settings for contemporary art (e.g., The Glass House, Chesterwood, Kykuit), many of my colleagues on the INTO Executive Committee were surprised to see the juxtaposition of old and new.

Skyscape at Villa Panza

James Turrell’s Skyscape 1 at Villa Panza

 

Villa Panza artwork

Villa Panza artwork, historic and contemporary

 

Villa Panza parlor

Villa Panza

The Last Day (and Supper) in Milan: 

We spent the last day in Milan touring some of the city’s most famous buildings and sites.  The Duomo and square are wonders of Italian architecture.

Duomo towers

Duomo towers in Milan

 

Milan Duomo

Milan Duomo, looking across the great altar

 

Duomo details

Duomo details

The Galleria, also on the Duomo square, is a hub of commerce next to the spiritual center of the city.

Galleria hall

Galleria hall

 

Central skylight in the Galleria

Central skylight in the Galleria

And finally, thanks to the good folks at FAI, we were able to acquire much sought-after tickets to see the Last Supper.  The experience – with only 30 or so visitors allowed in the room for 15 minutes – is very moving and satisfying.  The stewards of this priceless treasure could teach the Vatican Museum – with the over-crowded and wholly unsatisfying Sistine Chapel experience – a thing or two.

The Last Supper

The Last Supper

 

This was a great bookend to our time in Rome in the spring, with many thanks to FAI and my colleagues at INTO.  Milan is yet another international treasure, and I’m delighted I had the opportunity to see the city through the eyes of our Italian preservation colleagues.

More to come…

DJB

Preservation with an International Focus

Speaking to FAI Staff

DJB – with INTO Chair Dame Fiona Reynolds looking on – speaking to the FAI (Italian National Trust) staff in Milan

I have returned to Italy for the second time this year for a short meeting of the executive committee of the International National Trusts Organisation (INTO).  Our host for this year’s meeting is Fondo Ambiente Italiano (FAI) or the Italian National Trust, a remarkable INTO member which has saved 54 properties and protected 6 million square meters of historic landscape in Italy since 1975.  Over the past two days we have been meeting with the FAI staff at their headquarters in Milan and have toured three wonderful – and unique – FAI properties.  Along the way the 15 members of the INTO executive committee have learned more about the Italian model of preservation while we share our own experiences and shape strategy for the group for the year ahead.

FAI’s headquarters in Milan is in a historic equestrian exercise rink that has been marvelously repurposed for 21st century office use.  The space, desks, and equipment are all modern and set up for strong collaboration, yet the entire new three-floor interior addition could be removed without damaging the historic fabric of the walls and windows.  Along with other members of the executive committee, I had the privilege of speaking to more than 100 staff of FAI, in my case telling them of NTHP’s work on the future of preservation and our ReUrbanism efforts launched just last week.

FAI headquarters

Headquarters of FAI – the Italian National Trust – in Milan

After a day of work at FAI headquarters, we traveled to Villa Necchi Campiglio – a 1930s villa in the heart of Milan – for a tour by FAI volunteers and dinner with the organization’s senior management.

Porch and sliding door

Porch and sliding door at Villa Necchi Campiglio

 

Villa Necchi Campiglio

Entrance hall to Villa Necchi Campiglio

This villa was designed by Piero Portaluppi and showcases the lifestyle of the Milanese upper-middle class in the period before WWII.  It was a delightful evening, where connections were made for future work together.

Friday began bright and early, as we headed to Lake Como to begin a day of touring of two extraordinary sites, including FAI’s most popular – and heavily visited – villa.  I’ll end with a shot to whet the appetite, but due to the late hour here in Milan and the slowness of my wireless connection, I’ll post many more pictures later.

Villa del Balbianello

Villa del Balbianello on Lake Como

More to come…

DJB