There are some places on earth that just beckon you back over and over.
From the moment you begin driving up the hill, you know there must be something incredible waiting at the top.
The gates give a mere hint at what awaits within. And by hint, I mean you will stand there with your mouth wide open at the view. And then you notice that the gate is padlocked.
Not to worry, it turns out to be the wrong gate, the one they never use.
And this is the reward that greets you as you step into what feels like another world. Lush and fragrant, you are at once transported to the Italian seaside villa of your wildest dreams.
One of the lower courtyards in bloom. Late summer has been very kind on this side of the hill.
Around the corner, and the house begins to come into full view.
The family bought this property in the 1970's, when it was just a (smaller) house in significant disrepair, with several acres of wasted, barren hillside "dirt". In the thirty years since, they have lovingly restored the home, and added incomprehensible amounts of landscaping as well as literally tons of "hardscaping". I hesitate to use such a generic term for what they have accomplished.
It takes your breath away.
A photo "op" at every turn.
Someone should have told me to buy stock in the company that produces plaster columns and statuary. And palm trees.
And, well, planters.
Another verdant garden, looking down to one of the guest houses that were added along the way.
Are you getting that Italian feeling yet?
Well, this ought to do the trick.
On the balcony behind the statue is the "apartment" where Daughter, The Boy and I stayed for a good deal of the month of August. I fear that we stayed too long, and dancing boy up there is blowing that horn with all his might, trying to scare us up a shuttle back to the airport.
But when you have views like this to greet you each day, and Italian music playing through the sound system all over the grounds, how exactly do you tear yourself away?
That is the dance floor that you see, being covered with a green shaggy carpet for a three year old's Princess Birthday Party.The "magic gazebo" will be put up later in the day. Many family weddings have taken place on and around that dance floor.
And now another generation comes here to celebrate.
Sometimes you are above the clouds, as the coastline begins to shed it's morning shroud.
Everywhere you turn, a view more stunning than the last.
A young family moved on to this property thirty years ago, and seven children were raised to be humble and gracious servants of all they had been blessed with. These are kind and generous people, welcoming and open-hearted to a fault.
It's no accident that they are doctors. Doctors and nurses, physical therapists and medical estheticians.
So many paths to wander. So many steps to climb!
When I first began to visit here, I thought I would never figure it all out.
I got turned around more than once.
Somehow, like a compass, I would always end up pointing north. Well, and a little west.
As night falls, the house is a beacon, guiding everyone back, leaving the rest of the party decorations to wait until morning.
Late in the evening, I always feel compelled to step out onto a balcony, any balcony, just to take it all in once again. The coastal air is cool and breezy, and the twinkling lights are just astonishing.
The allure is complete.
It has been hard for Daughter and I to leave our beloved California, even if it is only for a year or two. It has been only very recently that we have relocated to Texas full time. We try to get back as often as we can to see our friends and family, to shop in favorite stores and eat in favorite restaurants. To feel like we're home.
And sometimes, when we're very, very, very lucky, we get to experience our city from someplace so beautiful, so quintessentially California, that the homesickness is abated for a time.
And for that we are so deeply grateful.