Back at his apartment, Ann finally awakens at about 1:30 in the afternoon, but she is thoroughly disoriented:
Ann: Would you be so kind as to tell me where I am?
Joe: Well, this is what is laughingly known as my apartment.
Ann: Did you bring me here by force?
Joe: No, no. Quite the contrary.
Ann: Have I been here all night, alone?
Joe: If you don’t count me, yes.
Ann: So I’ve spent the night here – with you?
Joe: Well now, I-I don’t know that I’d use those words exactly, but uh, from a certain angle, yes.
Ann: (beaming with a smile) How do you do? (She extends her hand for a handshake)
Joe: How do you do?
Ann: And you are – ?
Joe: Bradley, Joe Bradley.
Joe: You don’t know how delighted I am to meet you.
Ann: You may sit down.
Joe: (sitting on the bed) Thank you very much. What’s your name?
Ann: You may call me Anya.
My Roman Holiday
The setting is Rome.
The enchanting Eternal City, awash with heritage treasures, welcomes us for the first time together. It is also our first trip together, for my mother and I. How exciting it is, to share this experience with one of the most important people in your life. 8 days of riding trains between Rome, Venice and Florence.
The time is mid January, off-season one would say; all of the city’s perspectives at our personal disposal. A crystal-clear blue sky seems as promising as it gets. The typical Mediterranean sunshine warms the crisp Sunday morning.
Walks and talks bring us in front of the restored “La Fontana di Trevi”; my mind travels back, 9 years ago. This is the very same spot I came to encounter my (then) object of desire. Still students, always explorers, I arrive from the British capital and he from (next door) Pescara. Singles in a relationship, complicated as youth is.
Roman Holiday. Roman Drama! I would tell you more about it over Afternoon Tea.
Meeting St. Regis in Rome
Here I am, back in today. Just a few steps from Via Veneto and Fontana di Trevi, I stand in awe with what stands before me. Imposing, yet kindly welcoming, its doors slide and I become part of it. “And we’ll never be royals” will never be true again.
Amongst the warm smiles of the St. Regis Rome team, I indistinctively recognize a more special one – something familiar. An old friend (not a memory this time) in flesh and bones, long time since our last encounter in London. It is a small world after all.
Guillaume offers to give me a tour of the St. Regis, when I notice his suit: elegant, sharp, professional. He works there, the head-buttler! Our stroll through the courtly halls would end at the Grand Lounge for the Afternoon Tea. Mom takes a moment to relax and read the Wallpaper Venice guide – she wants to make sure, she didn’t miss any of the landmarks.
Giulio presents himself as the butler and offers to show me further around. I’m mesmerized by the elevator, a work of art, the same original one placed in the building. Are we travelling through floors or time?
“My very own Grand Budapest dream, is coming true” I think to myself and follow his way.
Tempo di Antonino e Faustina – The Junior Suite.
We have reached the first floor and Giulio unlocks a room’s door. As I walk through it, we go back in time: Antonino, one of the 5 Roman “Good Emperors”, was married to Faustina, a beautiful and wise woman, who spent her whole life caring for the people in need. When Faustina unexpectedly passed away, Antonino fell in great distress and thus convinced the Roman Senate to deify her and build her a Temple in the Roman Forum. Luis XV Style, this Suite is filled with love. The carpeting resembled tapestry and I was walking on a dream.
The Bottega Veneta Suite.
Moving on to the next dream, one for a fashion connoisseur. Designed by Tomas Maier the room’s environment aligns perfectly with the look and feel of the deeply Italian artisanal brand. Quiet luxury and refined sensibility bring to mind images of artists and intellectuals swaggering around the rooms. Gentle Giulio stands already by the fireplace in the room’s living room, overlooking Piazza della Repubblica. I feel as if being hugged by the timeless Italian style.
The Designer Suite.
Style has many faces and on we walk to another one. Coffered ceilings over marble floors, crystal chandeliers shinning on wooden surfaces compose a symphony of contemporary aesthetics. And Art.
Paintings, installations and objects by artists like Stefania Fabrizi and Paolo Fiorentino among others. What a treat – I must say the Designer Suite is my Darling!
The Afternoon Tea
Giulio leads me back to the Grand Lounge where Mom has started without me. The Afternoon Tea is already served, and it happened while I was living the dreams. The elegant ritual runs deep in time past, back in 1650, when tea leaves were exclusive and, of course, costly. Once reserved to the upper-classes, it is now for all to share. But you have to try it this way, at least once.
Aromas of ginger and apple are poured in the delicate porcelain, and my eyes shut as I take the scent in. On the hand-crafted table a sandwich platter is served, followed by the scones’ one. I will forever hold in my taste-bud-memory the softness of the freshly battered Italian whipped-cream, like a melting fluffy cloud.
The Beginning of a fairy tale
Dreams are made up of heritage, blue sky and sunshine, desire, warm smiles, an elevator, undying love, quiet luxury, a hug, contemporary aesthetics, an elegant ritual, delicate porcelain.
Precisely St. Regis.
Ann: At Midnight, I’ll turn into a pumpkin and drive away in my glass slipper.
Joe: And that will be the end of the fairy tale.