A month after we bought the house in Ghivizzano, Pepper and I came to Localita’ Camparlese Number 6 for a short stay. We were still living in the U.S. (North Little Rock, AR) and were nervous and excited to see our ‘new’ house.
Over the following 3 weeks, I completed a long list of items: changing the utilities to my name, finding an architect to begin planning the renovations, our first visits to Bar Sport, Maria Pia, and other businesses in town. It was a cold March and we slept many nights under newly-purchased blankets and piles of coats. Most days were sunny, though, and we quickly fell in love with Ghivizzano and the Serchio Valley.
We hadn’t decided on a name for the proposed bed and breakfast (and we were blissfully unaware that we were still a long, long way from our inauguration, so we would have plenty of time to decide.) I wanted something that conveyed the tranquility of our promontory, away from Via Nazionale and traffic. It was quiet at night and we slept with the windows open, serenaded by the Segone, the stream that flows between Camparlese and Ghivizzano Alto. Pepper proposed names that captured our natural surroundings: the forests, mountains, and the Serchio river. He rejected my suggestions as being too much like the name of an assisted-living residence. I rejected his proposals because to me they gave the impression that we were in the wilderness, probably fending off bears. So we were at an impasse, awaiting inspiration.
On one of our last days before returning to the U.S., I had a rare moment of idleness. The previous owner had mentioned in passing that a plaque over the front door possibly showed the year the house was built. (In fact, our neighbors’ house has a corner stone with ‘1746’ clearly incised). To me, it was an illegible gray rectangle, with vague characters in low relief. I was curious to know how old our house is and decided that a rubbing might reveal the date on the plaque. I grabbed a pencil and piece of paper. I placed a chair in front of the door and climb onto it. Up close, the plaque was obviously tin, not stone, so I was disappointed; this was not going to be at all like our neighbors’ cornerstone. But I was there on the chair and felt I should finish what I started. I held the paper over the plaque and began rubbing the side of the pencil against the paper. Slowly, like magic, instead of numbers, letters began to appear. L-A P-A-C-E. I felt goose bumps and almost fell from the chair. I jumped down and rushed to bring Pepper the paper. We looked at each other and suddenly knew our home already had a name. Casa La Pace is ‘House of Peace’.
Five years on, the plaque had become even more illegible and rust was beginning to show. After much cajoling, Pepper decided to paint it so that everyone can read the name. Our good friend David, who is cycling through Europe (and ‘wooff’ing during a good portion of his journey) was staying with us for a couple of weeks. He was ready to lend us a hand on any task. So Pepper supervised while David applied the color.
We still aren’t sure when our house was built, but I am happy to know that we’ve chosen just the right name.