Villa Veneto: The Final Photoshoot – Dawn’s Story

I never work well under pressure and the last month nearly floored me.

I booked the wonderful English photographer, Mark Bolton, a couple of months ago, feeling confident the house would be looking perfect and allowing myself a couple days to float around tweaking flower arrangements and plumping cushions.

The reality was rather different.  

A week before the photoshoot our carpenter decided to take a last-minute holiday without telling anyone, leaving me without a door on the utility room, a fly screen on the bathroom window and steps up to the jacuzzi spa.

Lampshade drama…..

Three months ago I bought a pair of beautiful tall brass lamps for the living room and took them along to the local artisan to be measured up for their shades.  It’s never a quick visit and in the past I’ve taken a drink and a sandwich to keep me going. This time he was super efficient, the measurements, fabric and design all confirmed in under two hours, a record. They would be ready in two weeks, I skipped happily out of his workshop, satisfied to tick another job off my long list. I called back one month later, always double the time given by an Italian. His workshop was all locked up and the sign removed, panic. I phoned him, no answer.  I popped into the florist next door, but she hadn’t seen him for weeks. I managed to track him down a week later, his mother is poorly, and he can’t make the lampshades in time for the photoshoot. So began the lengthy search for the perfect shades, and more nerve-racking for me, I had to change my vision.

My search took me on a tour of approximately 300kms, I know, most people think I’m completely mad, but these details are important.  Just as I was considering a 4 hour drive to Florence, I decided to try one last place, and there I found the perfect pair of shades, blue suede, lined with gold. I mentally visualised them on the lamps, perfect, panic over.

Chandelier drama …..

On my way home I popped in to Cieffe, one of my favourite lighting shops to confirm the delivery date of the exquisite Barovier and Toso chandelier and handmade wall lights I had chosen weeks before. Fabrizio took me to one side, not wanting to alarm the other customers with my screaming, when he told me one of the arms of the chandelier had cracked during the dismantling from the shop ceiling and they were waiting for a replacement. How long will it take I asked, trying hard not to fling myself on the floor. “Oh, not long, don’t worry” Fabrizio said with a smile. I was very worried, the photoshoot was less than three weeks away and I know how long these things take in Italy…. this would be cutting it very fine.

The poor man, I think I drove him mad, phoning him virtually every day, desperate for news of the chandeliers arm. Two days before the photoshoot, the missing limb arrived, but the electrician wasn’t available until the following afternoon. I asked Fabrizio, the chandelier expert to assist with the installation. They arrived, all smiles, and with numerous boxes containing all the pieces. We carefully laid each piece on the rug in the living room as the ladder was being positioned in the entrance hall. My husband, Michael, walked in swinging a large toolbox. I froze, he likes to be helpful, but he is rather clumsy, and his large frame and size 13 feet were dangerously close to the delicate pieces of glass. I suggested he do some jobs in the cellar, the furthest point from the chandelier.

I noticed Fabrizio’s footwear wasn’t quite as sturdy as I had hoped for such a delicate job. Beautiful handmade Italian shoes, with a slippery leather sole.  Perfect for climbing up and down a ladder carrying expensive Murano glass! He slipped a couple of times and I had to leave, I couldn’t watch. Anyway, we had set up a time-lapse video to record and share the whole event… or so we thought! 

Giancarlo, the plumber, arrived to check the taps in the laundry room, but decided instead to stand in the hallway and assist! 

The front door had been left open and we soon had a small gathering of locals watching and advising the assembly and installation of the chandelier.

It was like an Italian comedy sketch and I would have laughed if I didn’t know I would be working until 2am.

Four hours later the chandelier was hanging in the entrance hall It looked fabulous lighting up the delicate shades of the ceiling.  I felt quite emotional and very relieved. 

The neighbours clapped and Fabrizio bowed.  I couldn’t wait to see the video. I pressed play, it ran for a few seconds and then stopped, nothing, technology is always letting me down. I didn’t have time to get too stressed as there were flowers to buy, rooms to stage and paintings to hang before the photographer arrived in the following morning.

The photoshoot went really well, Mark was very professional and needed very little assistance as he moved his camera around the house, capturing every detail.  We worked nonstop for two days. Following the natural light around the house. The sunrise and sunset vistas across the rooftops and surrounding countryside were magical.  Thank you, Mark, for your calmness, patience and hard work. You had the unique ability to read my mind.

Please contact Dawn for more information on Villa Veneto and their special pre-launch price. dc@appassionata.com / www.appassionata.com/properties/villa-veneto/

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