When I started writing SAVING THE GRIFFIN, I knew that I wanted to put Kate, Michael and Grifonino on an estate in Tuscany. Olive groves and vineyards are quite exotic in and of themselves, but I wanted to build up the otherwordly flavor just a bit more. I knew that various Italian villas had some interesting statuary dating back to the 16th century when Prince Vicino Orsini designed his interesting garden at Bomarzo. I decided that my De Checchi family would have followed that fashion though on a much smaller scale. So I decided to have Kate and Michael use the statue of a dragon for their backstop.
Many owners of old estates now pursue what is known as Agroturismo, agricultural tourism. They grow grapes and olives and rent out their old guest houses to visitors.
While I was looking for a place to stay during my family’s visit to Tuscany, I ran across this lovely house that reminded me of the castles that my kids used to make out of tin cans and cereal boxes.
(Note: I’ve seen a lot of traffic on the site for people searching on Italian villas. If you’d like to see more about the house shown above, go to the Le Terrae website and take a look around.)
And what about the monster house where Grifonino was staying? It was inspired by another piece of statuary found on the Orsini estate. There were a number of imitations found around Italy. Who wouldn’t want this kind of playhouse set away in the woods?