Oh to be here.
Winter coming in and a lobby filled with the scent of evergreen boughs at the finest hotel in Tuscany. Queen Margherita coming for a week’s stay. The dining room all sparkly. Every maid in the hotel set to burnish every inch of the royal suite and the silver picture frames so shiny you can nearly see yourself in the dark.
Her suite not so happy but what can one do. Best spots in the servants’ hall for family dinner but not the same as the palace.
But the queen all smiles. A banquet that takes up the dining room. Ride to the cathedral and back for tea.
An outing to San Galgano up in the hills. A parade of cars filled with furs, mulled wine, rugs, and armchairs so her majesty can sit and watch the clouds. A few having had to be borrowed from the hotel down the street but not something for royalty to have a way to find out.
The last day and a gift. A silver box. Musa, it is. A place so ancient they were already old when Napoleon took Savoy and Sardinia took it back.
Something to treasure. On top of one’s jewelry box and locked up in the safe for holidays. Something to treasure your whole life long . . . .for generations not yet born . . . .wherever they are. . .
This is not my story. An honor it is to have been entrusted with it by my dear friend Colleen P. The story is that her late husband’s grandmother had the finest hotel in Siena from early 1900 to after the second world war. Queen Margherita di Savoia came to the hotel for New Years and gave her hostess several small gifts, with a small silver box with her seal amongst them. Brought to America by her descendants, it was lost in a wildfire. This lovely piece of silver must stand in its stead. A memory now . . . .all we ever really have.