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The Villa Grazioli

The Villa Grazioli is a palace in Frascati, near Rome, where Cardinal Antonio Carafa once lived. In the novel Celia says that she stayed there when her father was asked to design the Royal Pavilion in Rome.

There are numerous references throughout the novel to people that I know and places where I stayed. The Villa Grazioli was one of those places where I spent a holiday with my family in 2005. It has wonderful frescoed rooms and beautiful gardens that overlook Rome. The food, I remember, was always excellent. At the time my son was very young and despite the grandeur of the palace, the staff were always happy to let him eat his meals in a full, plastic centurion outfit. Celia then refers to becoming giddy looking up at the frescoed ceilings of the Vatican. This little vignette was based on a recollection of my son, doing exactly the same. He then sat down in the Sistine chapel took out a pad and pencil and tried to draw the 'Creation of Man'.

Edwin Lutyens was commissioned to design the British Pavilion for the Rome Exhibition of 1911-2. Lutyens borrowed inspiration from St Paul's Cathedral in London. It was decided afterwards that this building should become the British School at Rome. From 1912-16 Lutyens re-designed the internal structures to accommodate the resident artists and scholars, a library, and administrative facilities. The work that Lutyens was undertaking in Rome marked a shift in style from the arts and crafts movement to a more classical look. That classical look continued into the design for New Delhi.

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