Posts Tagged ‘Tombelli’

Surprises never cease to surprise me. I had just about forgotten that I had started this blog, given the avalanche of activity over the past two years. When low and behold comes this email asking me to attend to a comment. I’d misnamed Sandra Pope as Jane Pope in my last (2-year-old) blog. I have friends in Dorset named Jane and Nori, so that is my excuse. But that’s not the point. Astonishing how long stuff hangs around on the internet.

I’ve just sent the manuscript and illustration for my next book to my publisher, W. W. Norton. It’s the biography Cecil Pinsent and an overview of his Tuscany villas and gardens for the Anglo-American ex-patriate community. He worked for them all: the Berensons at I Tatti, Sybil Cutting at Villa Medici, Fiesole, CA Strong at Le Balze, and most tellingly, Iris Origo at La Foce. He did not however do anything that was ever built for Arthur Acton at La Pietra, but it was his son, Sir Harold Acton, who told me to research Cecil Pinsent if I wanted to learn anything about Florentine gardens and Tuscany villas, because, as Sir Harold said, “nothing much is know about him.” That was in the early 1990s.

So that is what I did. I found Pinsent’s family; his niece Chloe Morton loaned me his archive (which I subsequently helped her to place with Royal Institute of British Architects), met his half-brother Basil, who was much younger than Cecil and who clearly adored him. And was helped by all the the wonderful people who are now custodians of Pinsent’s work: Harvard and Georgetown universities, who now own I Tatti and Le Balze, two of the most famous villas outside Florence, and Benedetta Origo, whose mother worked with Cecil to create La Foce, his most enduring of the Tuscany villas he created, surrounded by exquisite gardens and countless others.

Best of all, though, I made some lifelong friends. Giorgio Galletti – a renowned Florentine architect and landscape historian who helped me with research and who shared his insights; Prof Vincent Shacklock who steered through my dissertation on Pinsent for which I earned a Master of Philosophy. And, most particularly, garden designer and horticulturist extraordinaire, Alessandro Tombelli, who has become the brother I never had. It is those Pinsent connections that are my greatest reward.

So watch this space, and the book shelves for “Infinity of Graces; Cecil Pinsent, an English architect in the Italian landscape.” coming to a bookstore near you.


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