I have found here on Lake Garda an old villa belonging to the late Doctor Thode. The garden is sweet with its pergolas and sloping terraces… I will stay here for some months to finally dispatch the Nocturne,” wrote Gabriele D’Annunzio in one of his letters. And, yet, that stay at Gardone Riviera became, for the poet, the start of his definitive stay in the last, extraordinary home of the Master. Just a handful of kilometres from Milan, this treasure trove which echoes the genius of its eclectic owner, still enchants today. Visiting the Vittoriale degli Italiani means entering a complex of buildings, plazas, streets, gardens, streams - even an open-air theatre. In creating this dwelling to serve as a recollection of the “inimitable life” of the poet-soldier and of the endeavours of the Italians during the First World War, D’Annunzio had help from Gian Carlo Maroni. And so, what had been, only a short time before his arrival, a simple farming villa, became a home-museum, a symbol of the poet’s burning mission to “live inimitably”. While the scarce illumination of the Prioria increases the sacredness of this mysterious environment in which the photo-phobic poet could live well, the Officina opens onto the study of the “worker of the word” as D’Annunzio often defined himself. The bedroom, the Stanza della Leda, is entitled thus for the golden relief on the fireplace that depicts the mythical coupling of Leda with Jupiter after his having been turned into a swan. The more intimate side of the Master emerges rather from his personal items, the shoes, boots and the vintage films of the Museo D’Annunzio Segreto. However, in the park, taking a stroll among the magnolias, niches, paths, plazas, fountains and ponds, even a kennel, it is truly easy to grasp the unbridled creativity of this genius. Besides the MAS 96 (anti-submarine motorboat) used by D’Annunzio during the Beffa di Buccari, one of his famed military exploits, to the Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8B, last auto of the poet, there is also the naval vessel Puglia. On this boat, donated by d’Annunzio to the Italian navy in 1923, Tommaso Gulli died in the waters off Split, Croatia.
Samantha De Martin - © 2021 ARTE.it for Bulgari Hotel Milano