A Drury University Teacher’s Summers in Italy
For 17 years, Jackie Warren has traveled back and forth between teaching in Springfield at Drury University and vacationing in her villa in Italy during the summer.
By Jackie Warren as told to Caroline Mund
I had a study abroad program for Drury, and I started it with a colleague in architecture. We always came to Florence because of the fact that it was kind of in the center for art and architecture for the students. About 10 years into doing it every summer, this little 13th century house came on the market so my girlfriend [who lives in San Francisco] and I took about 10 minutes to decide we’re gonna buy it together. And that was in 2004. It’s been a delight because everyone in the village is really close; we’re all friends.
The gardens here are just incredible. There’s a certain amount of things that you just have to let go wild because otherwise the Italians kind of frown at the fact that you’re trying to curb too much of their nature. It’s against the Italian law to build new construction so everything we have done here has to blend with the old. It’s all completely coordinated and in harmony.
It’s funny because the first time a professor in art history walked into my house in Springfield she said, “Oh, I can tell you live in Italy,” and I looked around and I thought, well, what does that mean? I think it’s because I love art and antiques together and I like contemporary things too and Italians are like masters at design. So, I really love putting contemporary design and then antiques, shapes and furnishings together and blending them and so that’s probably why my house in Springfield looks Italian.
The narrative of things is really important to me, so when I buy something I really like to know where it came from, who made it, that kind of thing. I’m very much interested in the story behind the furnishings that I live with. Everything we have found either was made or crafted here in some century. I have a lot of pieces that are from the 1800s. But I also have things that were made by the local artisans who live around here, like all of our doors and shutters were handmade by a guy that lives in the village close by. A lot of the interior has beams in the rooms that are made from chestnut. Because we are up on the top of the mountain, we have panoramic views.
I’m sitting in the kitchen right now at a table that’s probably 300 years old. It opens or you can fold it in half and it’s all handmade. You can use it just like a regular table so it’s like a 6-foot table or you can open it up and it’s a 12-foot table. I love that table; it’s very rare to find them.
It’s usually my family: my husband, daughter and me. Then we usually trade off with my friend in San Francisco. They never liked being here in the summer; they like to come in the fall and early spring because they don’t like hot weather. I love summer so I always come in the summer. You’re allowed three months under Italian law without having a green card. So three months is our limit and it has always just been enough.
Explore Related Articles
Colby Kern's Monochromatic Paintings
Local artist Colby Kern creates one-of-a-kind modern paintings that can elevate the design of any space.dec 2022 | Art, Decor
Whole House Interior Design 2022 Winner
The goal of the winning design of the Whole House Design category for 2022 was to conceptualize, design and build a grand, Cape Cod-style...jun 2022 | Decor, Design, Design Awards, Local Home
Best Bathroom 2022 Winner
The winning designer for the Best Bathroom category in 2022 set out to expand and modernize a dated primary bathroom to meet the lifestyle...jun 2022 | Design Awards