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Villas need looking after, just like people

Adriana and Fabio, Passalacqua custodians

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Adriana: “I was born in a mountain valley above the lake, the Val d’Intelvi. My husband and I lived in Milan for a while, but the city wasn’t for us. We raised three sons and moved back to the area, this time to the lake itself, where we became the custodians of Villa Passalacqua. Villas need looking after, just like people.”

My husband dealt with maintenance and gardening and I did all sorts of things to help out, including cooking and acting as a nanny for some of the children that came on holiday here with their families. I would make fresh pasta for them, and serve it in a fresh pomodoro sauce. It’s one of the simplest things in the world – but there’s nothing better.”

Fabio: “I was already grown-up when my parents moved to Moltrasio and at first I visited mostly at weekends and during holidays, but soon I fell in love with the town and with Villa Passalacqua. The De Santis family knew that I had a deep connection with the place and that my parents, who are both retired now, had been custodians under the previous owners. So they asked me if I would be interested in following in my parents footsteps, and moving to the Villa. I leapt at the chance.”

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“It’s not like working between four walls. I’m out in the open most of the day, in this incredible sunlit garden, with a view of the lake. Even when the work is hard, it’s very different from a day in the office”.

“People who live in Moltrasio are very proud of the Villa and all the illustrious people that have lived here or visited. A lot of the older inhabitants still remember playing in the garden as children. There was a baroness or countess who lived here many years ago, who would let them come and go through the little side entrance that gives onto the stepped lane that locals call La Scala Santa, the Holy Stairs.”

“One of the great secrets of the Villa is the underground passageway that leads all the way from the cellars to emerge at the lake. It has these little side niches that were probably used in the past for storing wine and food. In summer, it’s so cool down here, it’s like natural air conditioning.”

“It’s not like working between four walls. I’m out in the open most of the day, in this incredible sunlit garden, with a view of the lake. Even when the work is hard, it’s very different from a day in the office”.

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