“You may have the universe, if I may have Italy.”
– Giuseppe Verdi
I'm woken up by a ray of sunshine escaping the wooden blinds gracing the east wing of my bedroom. For a moment, I feel disoriented, wondering where I am. Perhaps because waking up in Palazzo Monti feels like nothing short of a dream. Part of me still can't believe I'm the Palazzo's Artist in Residence during Milan Fashion Week. I soon realize my sunny welcomer isn't the only thing keeping me from my sleep. Voices, high with a touch of celestial, also aid the eager sun in my wake. The choir boys, I laugh to myself. The group of young men next door preparing for priesthood, solemnly singing their morning prayers again. I get up from the warmth of my sheets, and give into the sun's embrace by opening the ceiling-high windows, only to be welcomed by the Palazzo's courtyard. Fellow Artist in Residence, Frederico (a talented graduate from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Denmark) is already hard at work, reading and enjoying his morning expresso. A smile instantly floods my face. Still barefoot, I head over to the centuries old door that provides entrance to my chambers, and can't help but pinch myself as I open it. In an instant, I'm swallowed by an ocean of ancient Italian culture, one I would happily drown in. As I look up at the breathtaking frescos, my gaze is answered by a group of cherubs, all of whom - as Edoardo Monti (who's family owns the Palazzo) informed me - have been guarding these walls for over 300 years, after a local artist brought them to life in the mid 1700's.
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I descend the royal staircase, turn right, and reach Leonardo's (the Palazzo's longest resident so far) studio. I knock. No response. As I enter, Leo's beautiful array of sculptures, paintings and sketches brightens up the already spectacular space - Maria Callas' voice providing the perfect backdrop. In the kitchen, another one of the residents, Heather (a fellow New Yorker), is also getting ready for breakfast. I sit, and continue my morning of art, opera and caffeine by her side.
When I'm not busy working in my very own atelier and gallery (provided by the Palazzo as part of the program), or filosofying about art and life over a home-cooked meal with the other creatives, accompanied by (maybe one to many) bottles of Italian wine, we fill the hours with trips to the art store, coffee breaks (and/or aperitivo) at one of the terraces at the Piazza, drinks in the town's hot spots or gelato by midnight stroll in picturesque Brescia, a Lombardic town who's beauty is as authentic as that of the Palazzo itself.
So many stories to tell. Too many stories to tell, and I am grateful for every single one of them. My Italian dream, my home away from home, thank you for all the wonderful memories. I will cherish them now and always. Thank you to the Monti family, for believing in my work and for not only opening their Palazzo, but also their lovely home in Bergamo with incredible warmth and hospitality. To my fellow residents for all the late night talks, the morning coffees, the sense of community. And a special thanks to Edoardo Monti, for making all of this happen, who's friendship I will cherish for many years to come.
Ciao my loves, until very soon!
With all my love.
PS. For pictures of beautiful Brescia, and for more info on the Palazzo and its Artist in Residence program, please check below.
ABOUT PALAZZO MONTI'S ARTIST RESIDENCY PROGRAM
Palazzo Monti, launched in March 2017, is an Artist Residency program located in a centuries old palazzo in the city of Brescia, Italy. The project is completely independent from any institutions and funded by the Monti family. Managed by a team of under-30 art lovers based in NYC, Palazzo Monti has so far hosted 5 artists from Brazil, USA, Denmark and Germany. Frama, a Copenhagen based design company, partnered with Palazzo to provide some furniture, lighting fixtures and kitchenwear. The program is completely free for resident artists, which are selected anonymously by the NY based board.
ABOUT THE PALAZZO
The Palazzo is from the XIII Century (1200) and was built by the Maggi family. It was then bought by Brescia’s Hospital, until the time when the Cazzago family bought it from the Hospital several years after. The alfrescos are from the 1750s, probably when Alfonso Cassago got married with Silva Mazzucchelli, and celebrate their wedding with scenes from the Roman and Greek mythology. In the courtyard there is a well from the early 1500s, and a marble fountain from late 1700s. The Cazzago family sold the house again in the 1850s and since then it has been owned by different families. The Scaroni Monti family owns the house since the 1950s.