A Picturesque Retreat in a Tiny Town in Puglia

Sep 13, 2017 55

BY: MARELLA CARACCIOLO CHIA

THE ART HISTORIAN and curator Peter Benson Miller was 13 when his parents began taking him to antiques markets and junk shops near their weekend house in Litchfield County, Conn. By the time he moved for good to Italy almost 30 years later, in 2009 — he is now in charge of the exhibition program and special events at the American Academy in Rome — he had amassed a huge number of objects, or, to be precise, collections of objects: 30 prints depicting Mary, Queen of Scots (‘‘I am attracted to the history of English female martyrs,’’ he says), dozens of French ice buckets in the form of pineapples, 200 cactus-shaped vintage ceramic salt and pepper shakers from the American Southwest.

He had hundreds of pieces in storage, and several hundred more jammed into the rented apartment in central Rome he shared with his partner, Giovanni Panebianco, a civil servant. But when yet another package from eBay arrived at their doorstep, this time containing what seemed like the 100th vase inspired by Constance Spry, the Martha Stewart of mid-20th-century Britain, even the patient Panebianco knew they needed a house where they and their things could spread out. ‘‘It felt like we were in a Pirandello play,’’ Miller recalls, ‘‘but instead of the ‘Six Characters in Search of an Author’ it should have been titled ‘Thousands of Objects in Search of a Home.’ ’’

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SOURCE: https://www.nytimes.com

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