The 1986 Merchant/Ivory film adaptation of E.M. Forester’s 1908 novel remains to this day, one of my favorite romantic movies. The room the title refers to is in Florence, Italy overlooking the Arno River.
In the spring of 1998, Jim and I visited the south of France, Monaco and a heavenly slice of Italy that included Florence and the surrounding medieval hill towns. We’d been dating for a year and a half.
In Tuscany we feasted on wild boar, porcini mushrooms and all of the “B” wines. Brunello. Barberesco. Barolo. We toured Florence in a horse drawn carriage and walked across the Arno River on the city’s oldest bridge, the Ponte Vecchio. Although there have been shops on this bridge since the thirteenth century, since 1593 only goldsmiths and jewelers have been allowed to ply their trade there. In a tiny shop on the Ponte Vecchio, Jim bought me a beautiful souvenir. A gold ring set with a sapphire and four small diamonds. A ring I have worn every day since.
Not long after this dreamy vacation I discovered at the ripe old age of thirty-six that I had breast cancer. A year later, after surgery, chemo, and radiation treatments, Jim and I got married in the Napa Valley with a weekend-long celebration of “life, love and gluttony” as our rather unusual wedding invites declared.
In one way or another cancer has been part of our lives for a long time. Imagine the courage of a man who asks a bald-headed lady to be his bride? That’s Jim. Now that Jim is in the cancer hot seat, that courage and tensile strength is more apparent to me than ever.
Recently, our neighbors Buzz and Pat invited us to meet Buzz’s brother, the artist William Berra. Their home is filled with Bill Berra’s sublime, luminous paintings. While he has painted landscapes and figurative subjects throughout the world, Italy remains one of his favorite places to paint.
Today, we accepted the temporary loan of one of Bill Berra’s paintings. We’ve set up a special nest in the guest room for Jim to recover from surgery. From the bed where he has been snoozing he now has a magnificent Berra painting of the Arno River and the Ponte Vecchio.
Thank you, Buzz Berra, Pat Newport and of course, the artist William Berra, for Jim’s new room with a view.