As a rule I should very much not like to live on one of those little gated burbclave type deluxe estates. But I have to say that I might make an exception for the one I saw last night.
Inheriting, some five years ago, a large patch of land on a wooded hillside off the via Aurelia in western Rome, a part of the city I don't know well up behind the Vatican, the boss of a local building firm decided to both build himself a house and set himself up for life. He built nine huge villas, each divided in two, each different in shape and style but loosely similar, endowed with loggias and balconies and painted the same shade of soft yellow. They have individual gardens and terraces, whilst between the houses and along the short roads are mature Mediterranean pines and flourishing oleandas. The views off the whole estate are spectacular, as you look out over an expansive green valley. The houses are loosely grouped around a 30m swimming pool, a 5-a-side football pitch and a tennis court in the centre. The chap who built the place kept one entire double villa for his family, living in one half with his wife and younger kids, giving the other half over to his adult son (now 28). The other places he sold for what I can only imagine to be truly offensive sums of money. Incidentally, I think that the inclusion of the calcetto pitch is deeply Italian. Luxury villa developments in the UK, I'm sure of it, would perhaps have included tennis courts, but not the 5-a-side pitch.
Anyway said adult son, Gabriele, is best mates with the sister of a colleague of my flatmate. Confusingly. So we were there for a party to celebrate someone's graduation and someone else's birthday. As an aside, can I ask why no-one ever invited me to parties hosted by single, handsome, toned, intelligent, Roma-supporting architects with their own enormous villas when I was also single? It was the kind of party at which people casually mixed up vats of caipirinha ('yeah I think there's a case of cachaça* under the kitchen table, will you grab me that bag of limes'), where there were more bottles of prosecco than guests, and the house was filled with tables groaning with cheese and salami and salads and nibbles. The party sprawled through the multi-level gardens, with dancing on the terrace: there was a DJ, an up-and-coming Italian hip-hop type sang a few of his songs (not bad, considering), disco lights, those huge outdoor citronella candles everywhere, and then sun-loungers to retire to when it all got a bit strenuous. Should we take something, I'd asked my flatmate on the way over there, should we take a bottle or two of wine? (It was about half-eleven, since we'd only got back home from our day lazing on the beach at about 9pm.) No, he said, I don't think that will be necessary. Ah. Indeed not, it turned out.
[*fun with spell-check: would you like to change cachaça into Dachau? er, no thanks.]
It was also the sort of party at which B-list celebrity neighbours drop in, like Roman comic Max Giusti, and a couple of other guys off Quelli che il calcio, like Massimo Caputi who also did L'Isola dei famosi. (Sadly La Ventura did not put in an appearance, however). Other guests included implausibly glamorous Russian blondes with waist-length hair and a hip-hop producer from San Diego. After the eating, drinking, dancing etc there was 4am swimming (happily I had been warned and so had a cossie with me) and pool-based silliness. It was, all in all, the sort of party which the likes of me don't normally get invited too. So yeah, lifestyle envy. (The villa, incidentally, would have looked *so* much better with its walls lined with history books.)
Ah well. Today I am mostly downloading interesting CCCP propaganda posters and translating press releases about hairdressing.